jesse and craig at taste.JPG
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Line cook Jesse Dean with chef Craig Hetherington.
The chef as rock star has become as tired as fussy mac-and-cheese, but

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Line Cook At Taste Hits All The Right Notes

jesse and craig at taste.JPG
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Line cook Jesse Dean with chef Craig Hetherington.
The chef as rock star has become as tired as fussy mac-and-cheese, but in this week's Grillaxin Q&A, we meet a line cook who has got some true musical chops. Jesse Dean is in the punk band Down We Go and a bluegrass band called West, playing alongside his girlfriend. When the Port Townsend native is not working the grill at Taste, he's playing stand-up bass, mandolin and cranking the volume on his Resonator guitar during after-hour jams at a rehearsal space on Queen Anne. Music and food provide delicious escape from stress.

SW: Which came first, cooking or music?

Dean: I started playing piano when I was 10, but I have a picture up in my locker right now my mom sent me when I was in a cooking club in fourth grade. I made my first béchamel sauce back then. So, I guess it was around the same time.

SW: Do you find similarities between music and food?

Dean: When I go into the kitchen, everything in my life just shuts off, if I'm stressed out, if I'm having problems at home, I just kind of forget about 'em. It's the same when I'm playing music. I'm living with four girls right now. We grew up together in Port Townsend and there can be some drama.

SW: What do you like about cooking?

Dean: I love to follow a recipe or come in and create something I want. We have an amuse every night and a lot of times, it's up to the cooks to come up with those. Craig approves them, but we have a lot of freedom. I made a grilled strawberry in crushed pink peppercorns one time. It doesn't sound like it would work, but it was really good. The other night I hydrated an apricot in really strong espresso. That was fun. It's just one quick bite to get your palate excited.

SW: That apricot sounds kinda punk and the strawberry more bluegrass. What's your inspiration?

Dean: What I love about working here is that we get to meet a lot of the farmers whose food we use. And the guys at Foraged and Found, they're great. Last year, Craig took us out to his favorite spots for mushrooms. That was a first for me. I love getting my hands dirty. It's amazing those guys can spend hours and hours working and they don't really know if they're going to make any money. But they love what they're doing.

SW: Did that give a new appreciation for those mushrooms?

Dean: It's so rewarding just knowing them. When we get ingredients in from them, like fiddleheads, or miner's lettuce, it's great to work with them.

SW: A lot of people have never seen fiddleheads before. How do you suggest people cook them?

Dean: They're pretty amazing. I usually take a bite of them when they're raw. They're really earthy and refreshing. Then, I sauté them in a little clarifired butter or olive oil. You don't really need to mess with them.

In part two of our Grillaxin' Q&A with Jesse Dean, he'll talk more about his music, meals, his dream restaurant and his favorite food show.

 
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