Hi. My name is Ryan Shelton and I'm a cook. I've been working in the food service industry for about 10 years now. Currently, I'm the Executive Chef at Bonny Doon Vineyard's Le Cigare Volant Restaurant in Santa Cruz. Its the most recent awesome job that I've had in a string of awesome jobs. Before coming to Santa Cruz, I was the Chef de Cuisine of Baumé restaurant in Palo Alto. When I was at Baumé, we earned two Michelin stars in less than two years of operation!
I love food - cooking, eating, serving, cleaning, growing, dreaming, reading...anything to do with food. My style is Contemporary Californian in technique and flavor. My use of ingredient choice and combination is influenced by both my Italian ancestry and Asian restaurant experience, as well as my classical French training.
Fine dining is a funny thing. Sometimes we work SO hard on a dish, just to bring things together as neatly and as perfectly as we envision. I believe strongly in trying to work with nature instead of against it. This doesn't mean that I prefer preparations with very few steps. It means that when I combine ingredients, I'm mindful of their natural state and habitat. It also means that I expect the techniques I implement to yield consistent results that seem natural. I never make 10 of something because I know only 1 or 2 will turn out perfect. That's not working with nature.
Sometimes though, we find a process which takes a bit more work. We must occasionally endure training and practice bordering on specialization to learn a technique which emphasizes a unique characteristic of an ingredient. Often times guests are stunned and wonder "How did they do that?" Unlike true theatrical magic, part of the fun of eating and cooking is the discovery of how one does "do that". It is for this reason that I am writing this blog. It is my wish that your love of food - eating, cooking, etc, will be enhanced by seeing some of the (often obsessive) steps that we take to achieve what we consider "perfection."