Chef Eric discovered his love of cooking very early when he was about six years old baking cookies with his mom. Still, he never dreamed he would become a chef, especially be cause he was “the pickiest eater” until he was about eighteen years old. Life has a funny way of always working out, today he is passionate about his career and the women of the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority at Washington State are a direct beneficiary.
His path to becoming a chef is interesting, to say the least. Chef Eric grew up in sunny southern California in San Gabriel. In his twenties he lived and worked in ski resorts. After ten years of that lifestyle, he decided to pursue a culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu. He was born service oriented and dealing with others’ human nature. He continued his education studying Pastry Arts at the French Culinary Institute in New York. The schooling was demanding and intense and pushed him out of his comfort zone. But, he says, it helped prepare him for anything and everything.
The artistic freedom the chefs have at College Chefs is unlike any other company, Chef Eric explains. “You have the opportunity to grow as a cook or baker on a daily basis according to the taste of the house.” He says there is a trust to create good, creative food and, “the better you do, the more freedom [and trust] you have.” For those of us unfamiliar with the food industry, he describes other systems as stifling environments with no passion. A chef is told what to do in detail; the chef is just following rules. The positive environment at College Chefs has an impact on more than just the food. There’s a camaraderie in the sorority house with the women, the workers, and the chefs. The people are kind and get each other through bad days. Chef Eric calls this positive work environment a blessing. As the leader in fraternity and sorority food service, College Chefs strives to find chefs (like Chef Eric) that can balance their own passion while catering to the needs of the students.
His creative personality is exemplified through his diverse music taste. When asked about his favorite music genres/ musicians, he listed classic rock bands like Led Zepplin, Old School Hip Hop with Tupac, reggae sounds like Slightly Stupid, and the up and coming Mac Miller. He focuses on the rhythmic, clever lyrics and sees them as background beats. Obviously, he recognizes that there is an appropriate time and place for each of the genres. One of his favorites to listen to while cooking, are the sounds of the kitchen when the air is silent; hearing the hum of the refrigerator and the bars of the hood. He feels at peace with the world. For Chef Eric the kitchen is truly more than just a place of work.
See the Q&A below these beautiful photos.
Pork Pho w/ cilantro,basil, green onion, mushroom, serrano chili, habanero, broccoli, celery, carrot, lime and radish. In a Umami broth.
Deep-fried grass-fed-beef slider.
From-scratch pizza. Chef Eric is master of creating ridiculously good from-scratch pizzas.
Beautiful ratatouille. A little more on the healthy side.
Q: What is your favorite food to cook?
A: “Duck by far. It’s something that takes me back to New York. I walked to the market from my house and bought a product [...] that I looked forward to every week. I can present it to someone like [they haven’t seen] before. They go, “Oh my gosh! I didn’t know I loved that!” I think it’s something that a lot of people don’t expect to be that good.”
Q: What is your favorite food to eat?
A: “Probably tacos, for many reasons. When I was very, very small, we would have tacos frequently in my home, it was something we all agreed upon. I think food memories bring us back to simple times. That’s what it is for me.”
Q: What is your favorite food memory?
A: “One of my favorite food memories goes back to 1974. We did fondu with steak and oil and I thought we were the COOLEST family. I was about six years old [and] I told everyone we ate fondue with filet mignon.”
Q: What do you do when you’re not cooking?
A: Recover physically. I put a lot into work. That’s how I [usually] get my workout in. Relax too. I’m a visual learner so I watch a lot shows like chopped or Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I spend a lot of time, probably too much, looking for anything that can inspire me.
Q: Do the sisters in your house have a favorite food?
A: My house, specifically, is incredibly diverse in taste- Pizza day is the day everybody is happy. You know that song “Best Day Ever” by Mac Miller? That’s the song that plays on pizza day. It’s soul satisfying, with that playing in the background, I can make everyone’s favorite and can make everyone happy.
Q: What do you think the next “big thing” in the food world will be?
A: Let me begin by saying that back in 2006 I talked about creating a gourmet food truck [and now they’re everywhere!] The trend is how to make organic affordable to everybody. This is ab-sol-utley necessary. Up and coming generations are more in tune to that. It HAS to happen.
For a guy who loves teaching and sharing new things, the fraternity & sorority atmosphere is a perfect place to work. He expresses that his joy is a direct result of how many people he can make happy. His passion for his craft is truly inspiring. Chef Eric is currently dishing out great food for the women of Alpha Chi Omega sorority at Washington State.
By College Chefs’ Danielle Gadus