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Table Talk Q&A: David Peterson

Oct 1st, 2012 | Category: Community

Meet David Peterson, Executive Chef at the Lighthouse Bar & Grill. A resident of the Bellingham area for the last 14 years, Peterson has worked in several area restaurants including Boundary Bay Brewery, Big Fat Fish Co. and the Lakeway Inn and Convention Center.

David Peterson. PHOTO BY ASHLEY BENNETT / BENNETT BELKA PHOTOGRAPHY

At what point in your life did you realize you want to work in the kitchen? How long have you been cooking?

I had been cooking for a few years as a source of income before it finally clicked that this is where I belong, in the kitchen. I had enjoyed cooking and learning about food but it wasn’t until I started writing my first menu for Boundary Bay Brewery that my heart found its home. That was in March of 1999. I started cooking in 1995.

What are some of your favorite ingredients to use in the fall?

Some of my favorite fall ingredients are things like butternut squash, pumpkins and pepitas, honeycrisp apples make the best bread pudding, chanterelle mushrooms on just about everything, and though pork is not a fall item it does taste best with fall flavors.

I say spinach, you say… I still prefer it raw or lightly wilted.

I say oysters, you say… I say Kumamotos please with a green apple cider mignonette.

I say lamb, you say… T-Bones with chocolate espresso pepper sauce.

Is the glass half full or half empty?

It’s just a glass and I’m thirsty. I am a positive person by nature but I am tired of thinking outside the box. Would somebody just throw that damn box away!

What is your preferred beverage in that glass?

Preferably something that will help me forget that I have been on my feet for the last 14 hours. Tequila sure does the trick.

Favorite cooking utensils/instrument(s) in the kitchen? Why?

A knife and a whisk are the best tools for me. There are some great toys in the kitchen, but a tool is just an extension of my own hands. Like a brush to a painter.

What are your go-to spices?

Latin flavors are the most comforting for me… cumin, ancho chile, coriander, smoked paprika, etc.

You grow herbs in windowsill boxes at the restaurant, is that right? What other ways do you incorporate fresh ingredients? Any favorite local sources or farmers?

Yes, we grow herbs and edible flowers here at the hotel. I also make regular trips to the Farmers Market and Joe’s Gardens. We also have great local hazelnuts, cheeses, mustards, pasta, coffee and more than just produce, but there are a couple of booths at the market that I must stop at:  Terra Verde, Alm Hill and Sumas River Farm. I must say that I also love Cheryl up at Cloud Mountain Farm. They have an amazing property and program.

Least fulfilling (or worst) job you ever worked? What did you gain from that experience?

Worst job is a restaurant that shall remain nameless, but what I learned was consistency, cleanliness and character.

When you’re not working, you’re…

Probably hanging out with family and friends, though I do have a new fascination for long quiet walks.

Let’s say I’m cooking and accidentally added too much salt to my recipe? What can I do?

If it is a dish that has a fair amount of liquid in it like a soup or a stew you can throw raw potato in it and let it sit for a while, the potato will leech in the salt. If not you’re pretty much going to have to start over. (That’s why you don’t salt until it’s almost done.)

It’s been a long day and there’s not much enthusiasm for making dinner. Ideas for quick(er), healthy meals?

I have been on a Yakisoba noodle kick for quite some time. It is so versatile and a great vessel for leftovers. Any protein that you want, a ton of veggies and a kick of some good soy or teriyaki sauce and you’re done. Don’t forget the siriacha.

It’s your day off. What are you eating, who’s cooking, and who are you sharing the meal with?

On my day off my go to foods are Thai and Mexican. The best days off are spent with family, the love of my life and our kids, and if it’s a great day off then we are all cooking together.

What dishes or snacks do you crave during the fall season?

I must admit that I don’t have much in the way of seasonal cravings, but when the weather turns colder I crave chocolate.

Any parting words, or favorite quote(s) to share?

Try new things. Cook food that you know is fresh. Buy local from people you trust and love what you eat.

–interview by Becca Schwarz Cole

Table Talk is a monthly Q&A with someone who lives and works in the community. Published in the October 2012 issue of Grow Northwest.

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