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Let's eat.

From Big Sur's killer cliff-clinging eateries to Salinas' unparalleled produce, this blog aims to sniff out all things Monterey County can stomach, via picture and prose, curiosity and appetite, hand and mouth.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Channeling Christopher Walken and Other Tim Wood Goods

Over the course of a six-part tasting—including delicious day boat sea scallops with satsuma mandarin, citrus brown butter, shiso greens and black truffle shavings (hidden among the wonton crisps above)—Carmel Valley Ranch Executive Chef Tim Wood showed what he can do mighty well. (Read more about the new Carmel Valley Ranch experience and ownership in this week's issue, including a companion piece by yours truly about the restaurant's revival.)

We grazed on Wood's Black Angus sliders with New York cheddar and red pepper jelly, Swank Farms organic beet salad with shaved fennel and olive oil croutons, delicious lox and latkes (it was Hannukah, after all)...

...and a double-stuffed profiterole that had me reconsidering my long-held suspicion of them.

Captivating tastes, all. But it was his commentary that captivated us the most.

He riffed on growing up in the Catskills, the intense types he worked for in New York at spots like Manhattan's Butterfield 81, the early days with Cal Stamenov and Christophe Grosjean at Bernardus' beginning, dropping in impressions of bosses and colleagues as he went.

As the commentary continued—"I'm the one they send VIPs when they need to be entertained and they don't know what to do," he says—he toured us through the kitchen, where he paused to help a cook he calls "Earrings" (for his huge lobewear) master a sauce with notable clarity and cool...

...then through a backstage demo kitchen adjoining a ballroom. He's already scheming some inspired Iron Chef-style events.

My favorite part of his free-flow had to be the comparisons he drew between himself and the rampant wild turkeys cruising the property—"I'm like the turkey up there on the branch, wobbling back and forth, with everyone watching"—and Christopher Walken.

"I'm like the Christopher Walken of chefs," he says. "I don't use punctuation."

Here's hoping Wood can dance like C.W. too: