Early on Alvin got a degree in chemistry and worked for several years in a research lab before changing course at culinary school in Chicago. He staged in one of the best kitchens in the city and cooked for four years before moving to Seattle. After working for Bon Appetit at both Seattle University and Amazon he ended up running one of the cafes. Missing restaurant kitchens, he found an opportunity at ESR as the chef at Mkt. in Tangletown before becoming the manager at Cortina.
Rosemead, California. Our claim to fame: Sriracha. The original factory was a mile from my house.
First Restaurant Job
Lula Cafe, Chicago. Single-handedly the best work experience I've had and one of the best restaurants in the city. If you're in Chicago, check it out. It will not disappoint (get a pasta ya-ya).
Last Restaurant Job
That I care to admit…Chef de Cuisine for Bon Appetit at Amazon.
Alternate Universe Career
Funny thing, this was my secret dream job. If I had to pick another, a carpenter, a drummer and/or a DJ...none of which I currently can do.
Favorite Late Night Snack
In the kitchen: definitely croutons.
At home: Filipino dried mango.
Best Meal Ever
Valentine's Day 2007. Had plans to get out of Chicago with my then-girlfriend. A huge snowstorm buries the city and we can't get out of town. Called a friend who was the chef at a downtown to see if he could fit us in that night.
Came in with a case of beer (PBR of course) as a thank you. Got sat and looked over the menu for a few minutes before our server came over.
"Let me know if there's anything you see that interests you. But, Chef John is just going to start sending you out some food"
What proceeded were three hours of culinary debauchery the likes of which had not been seen or since. I would list the dishes we had, but they have faded into a haze of tastes and sights and smells and lots and lots of wine.
Needless to say, my friend and his crew got a little drunk (well, at least a little buzzed. It was just PBR) and I ended up getting married to that girl. Coincidence? I think not.
After Work Hangout
Care...and lemon juice.
Favorite Seattle Restaurants
Before: Revel, Walrus and the Carpenter, Delancey's, Red Mill Burgers.
Now that I live in Northgate: Kukai Ramen, Toyoda Sushi, Five Guys.
Let the ingredients decide what they want to be. Don't decide a dish ahead of time and then force it. See what you have and let it inform and inspire the dish.
Restaurant Pet Peeve
Ordering one dish at a time. Come on. You know you wanted that steak when you sat down. Why wait until you've had three other courses to go ahead and order it?
Memorable Kitchen Disaster
When I was a young(er) cook, I used to wish the power would go out on particularly hot, crushing weekend nights so service would end and I could leave. One day it did. Worst. Night. Ever. Not only did we still cook in the dark (probably illegally), without the hood exhaust we nearly suffocated in a fog of smoke and fumes. Then we spend two hours putting everything on ice. Ended up leaving there later then I normally would.
Can't Live Without
What's On The DVR?
What's On The Nightstand?
Just My Type by Simon Garfield, various chicken/gardening/home improvement books, my, iPhone, an iPad, two iChargers, five chapsticks, two glasses of old water (days/weeks), receipts, and a couple of legal pads.
What's On The iPod?
Mashups by Isosine. Check them out.
Favorite Movie Quote
"Hold on to your butts" and "That'll do pig."
What Have You Learned?
Every person you meet knows more about something than you do. And, every person you meet is as scared shitless as you are.