Life’s been different since I moved to Logroño almost six months ago with my longtime friend and chef, Ian Whalley. I’m spoiled in the kitchen daily with 5-star meals and am getting dangerously comfortable with it. I know this set up is temporary, so I’m enjoying -exploiting- the hell out of it while I can.
Click HERE for a video of a vineyard barbecue in Huercanos, La Rioja.
Ian’s top 4 plates:
It isn’t easy deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life. When I was a teenager, I had one friend who always seemed to know what direction he wanted to take his career. Ian has had a passion for cooking for as long as I can remember. A craft that seemed to have started with queso dip when we were 12, evolved into four years of study at the The Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York. What followed in 2015 was over a year of kitchen experience at one of Virginia’s top 5 restaurants: Trummer’s on Main.
Having an aspiring chef as a best friend, you would think that over the years I would have taken advantage of it by asking for his tasting menu. While in college, we lived about six hours apart, so I never saw the full extent of what he was capable of in the kitchen. Ian rarely cooked for friends, as we usually ate his mom’s food (@itswhatsfordinner) when we would hang out at his place. It was at one of these dinners that I brought up the idea of moving to Spain. I told my friends –half joking- that they should ditch their jobs and come with me.
Now, fast forward to 2016:
Chef Ian Whalley gave his two weeks’ notice at Trummer’s, bought a ticket to Spain, and packed his bags. He came to Logroño with no job lined up in hopes of learning about the food and wine culture of La Rioja. Now we’re living together, and the word “Roommate” has become synonymous with “Personal chef”. Don’t take that lightly. This man cooks for the house every day and never fails to impress. The least I could do is document his dishes, so why not help him build a nice portfolio by taking photos of every plate he makes? There are 16 plates pictured at the bottom of this post. Ian has celiac disease, so each of these plates is #glutenfree.
We’ve had a handful of dinner parties and picnics since we moved to Spain and I’d say I’m milking it as best I can while living with Ian. One of the most memorable times was when we had a barbecue at a vineyard in Huercanos, La Rioja and grilled 2 kilos of pork butt over grape vines. The weather was perfect and the food was better. Take a look at a video of that day HERE.
Living with a chef is a blessing and a curse. While I’m learning a bunch watching and (sometimes) helping him cook, it’s easy to get comfortable, sit back, and just do the dishes. You have to keep an eye on him though. Today, he made a phenomenal chicken salad and when I had two bites left on my plate, he told me that he snuck the heart, liver and a mystery organ in the salad. He had me guessing the ingredients while I was crushing my plate and I had to put my fork down when I heard his surprise. I guess it’s flavor, right? All this aside, I wouldn’t change anything. La Embajada restaurant is pending Michelin review and the future is looking bright.