Richard & Alvin 10 2009.jpg
Ponti Seafood Grill owner Richard Malia and chef Alvin Binuya go way back.
Ponti Seafood Grill has a new chef. Well, not exactly new. Veteran

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Ponti's Binuya Has Been a Mentor to Some Very Haute Chefs

Richard & Alvin 10 2009.jpg
Ponti Seafood Grill owner Richard Malia and chef Alvin Binuya go way back.
Ponti Seafood Grill has a new chef. Well, not exactly new. Veteran chef Alvin Binuya has returned to the kitchen he helped set up after Madoka, his restaurant on Bainbridge Island, closed. He has updated the menu, and the beautifully situated venue is getting good buzz again. It's not a big shock. This guy has been in the business a long time. He's a pro. A pro who has mentored some very accomplished chefs. Read part one of this week's Grillaxin Q&A for more.

SW: If you could only eat one fish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Binuya: Salmon. King salmon, to be specific.

Any idea what might be the next trendy seafood/shellfish dish?

It's already taken hold, but black cod is hot and should remain so for a while if the prices do not get too far out of line.

What's the most rewarding part of your job?

For me the greatest reward comes from the people I work with. Teaching is a constant dynamic. I particularly enjoy watching a cook succeed at something that has challenged them in the past. They learn something about themselves, and I do as well.

Part of your job as executive chef is to train cooks. Who have you worked with in the past who has gone on to become a success?

Here are some of the fine chefs I've worked with and the places they work, at least the most recent information I have:

Kelly Degala (Va de Vi Bistro, Walnut Creek, Calif.)

Scott Sasaki (Garibaldi's on College, Oakland, Calif.)

Peter Morrison (Currently with Café Umbria, but owned and operated Moxie on lower Queen Anne)

Bobby Moore (Barking Frog)

Jasper Alexander (chef/owner of Hattie's/Saratoga Springs, N.Y.--he beat Bobby Flay in his "Throwdown" show)

Michael Davis (was chef/owner of 26 Brix in Walla Walla and is now at The Waterfront in San Francisco)

Michael Doctulero (chef of Scott's in Costa Mesa, Calif., which as the same ownership as Campagne)

Maria Hines (Tilth/Golden Beetle)

You've been at great restaurants that didn't make it. What went wrong?

I feel all of the restaurants I have been a part of have been successful. If we are talking about Madoka, while it was not a success financially, I felt we accomplished what we set out to do, and created a great restaurant.

What's your advice for people who watch Top Chef and decide they want to get into the professional kitchen?

Before enrolling in culinary school, get out there and find a kitchen which will take you in on a voluntary basis, and work any position they will allow for at least two weeks, preferably a month. Set it up so it's like an internship, where you work alongside the other cooks from setup through service and cleanup. It's important to gain a perspective on the day-to-day aspect of this business, which is far different from what is portrayed on these reality shows.

Check back for part three of this week's Grillaxin for a recipe from chef Alvin Binuya.

 
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