My West Coast Culinary Adventure

Chad Myers, Executive Chef of Dubuque (Iowa) Golf & Country Club, made the most of his time after the 2018 Chef to Chef Conference in Seattle by exploring the culinary scenes in Washinton and California. He returned to his club inspired and excited.

What does the Chef to Chef Conference, Pike’s Place Market, Kurt Cobain, Michelin Stars and Southern California all have in common? They were all a part of my recent west coast culinary adventure.

My wife, Billie, and I began our journey in Seattle at the 2018 Chef to Chef Conference. I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest so the 90s kid in me was pretty excited to visit the birthplace of grunge music while the chef in me was equally excited to see Pike’s Place Market and attend the annual club chef conference.

The Conference did not disappoint. There is still so much information to process, but I’m reminded of or apply something I learned there almost daily. Whether it’s piping melted chocolate into ice cold water to create chocolate garnishes, onto bubble wrap to create a beehive effect, roasting oranges to create an orange mayo, making scallop foam, or even the debate on whether or not to get certified—the information at this year’s event was so beneficial.

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I was also really fortunate to be able to visit Pike’s Place Market where Billie ate some of the freshest shrimp I’ve ever seen along with fried chicken. (I have a seafood allergy so I didn’t have any.) It was fascinating to browse the market and look through some of most bountiful seafood displays I’ve ever seen. I can’t imagine having access to this market every day. It would change my whole operation.

Seattle wouldn’t be complete without a few tourist stops like the space needle. We also took an Uber across town to see Kurt Cobain’s house and Memorial Park. It felt a little paparazzi-esque taking pictures of a house in a residential neighborhood, but we weren’t alone. There was another couple from Brazil there as well. And, as common courtesy, I shared my marker as we all left our names on the park benches commemorating Nirvana’s frontman.

The next leg of our journey took us to the culinary mecca of San Francisco. The sheer number of must-sees in San Fran are unreal, but our main mission was to eat a Michelin Star dinner at Coi where my friend, Erik Anderson is the Executive Chef. I could not pass up the opportunity to see him in action and have my first Michelin dining experience.

Coi was mind-blowing. I thought I had an idea about what this level of service and food might be like, but I was wrong. The attention to detail by the service staff and their almost soldier-like ballet dance through the dining room was magical. They welcomed me as I was getting out of my Uber by saying, “Welcome, Chef!” It was very impressive.

As for the meal—and I know that I have some bias since Erik is my friend—it was absolutely incredible. There were 12 courses with unexpected flavor punches presented as dishes of fine art. It represented everything that I strive to be as a chef.

Here are the courses:

  • 1st course: Sunchoke Tartlet and citrus marshmallow
  • 2nd course: Ham and Cheese Gougere
  • 3rd course: Lemon Verbena Panna Cotta (my wife had version with Crab)
  • 4th course: “ham and eggs”  White asparagus, crepe, and shaved ham
  • 5th course: Foie and Sweet breads en croute with truffle sauce
  • 6th course: Deconstructed Pigeon with pommes soufflé
  • 7th course: Duck Royale with copious amounts of black truffle
  • 8th course: Palette cleanser, marinated Etrog fruit
  • 9th Course: Blood orange sorbet with marshmallow and citrus discs
  • 10th Course: Chocolate Mille Feuille
  • 11th Course: Chocolate pot de crème
  • 12th Course: Assortment of treats

Service included bread with local bread and butter from Normandy. Both were delicious. We were also given monkey bread to take back to the hotel afterward that had black truffle in it.

Like most chefs, I love truffles and foie gras. This meal delivered on those areas in a way that I cannot even describe. It was so freaking good. I sucked the head of a pigeon and it was delicious—something I never imagined I would do. The fact that this meal was adjusted to my seafood allergies was also a huge bonus.

It was great to see Erik in action. I know the service staff was laughing under their breath as I was going all fanboy with my camera phone and my giddy, partially intoxicated exuberance. It was an experience I will never forget, an anniversary dinner with my wife for the ages. She even said it was the best meal she has ever had, and she doesn’t share my love of foie and truffles.

After seeing some of the sites in San Francisco, we headed south to Long Beach, California to visit friends and enjoy some rest and relaxation. We were pretty burnt out on restaurants at this point, so the first night we had a get-together and made some delicious, authentic tacos. We also indulged in some vino and Modelo. It was a perfect California night. The next day we toured the Pacific coast highway where we happened upon this little shack on the water called Pearson’s Port. They had live spot prawns that were the freshest I’ve ever seen. My wife and I also ate at In & Out Burger to taste what all the hype was about.

During this trip, I was able to surround myself with hugely talented people who have inspired me to be a better person and a better chef. I’m so thankful my club encouraged me to go to the conference and take some time afterward to further expand my culinary world. I have returned with dozens of ideas and I’m inspired to be better, do more and improve every aspect of my operation so that my members can enjoy their club dining experience that much more.