While Chef Michael Keskin was furiously slicing, chopping, stewing, and roasting in the kitchen last week, we took a few minutes to ask him some questions. While (not so skillfully) dodging the daikon and steering clear of the hot pots, we managed to glean a little more insight into what makes our chef tick. You can also read his bio here.
So to start out, what was your first job in the kitchen?
My first job was a dishwasher when I was 14. It was at the Dulles Marriot in Virginia. My dad was the General Manager. It really was the beginning of my exciting career as a food lover.
Who and what are your biggest influences in food?
My biggest influence is my stomach. I love food. It really makes me happy. Also, seeing my customers eating and having a great time makes me really happy too. Being a Chef is like being a creative entertainer, I love seeing people enjoying themselves.
Who are your food mentors? Or even life mentors?
Chef Bruno, Chef Dylan, Chef Charlie, my dad, my best friends, Iron Chef Chen Kenichi, Bill Hatch, Tim, and many more people have been my mentors. Some of these chefs, I’m sure you don’t know, but they taught me valuable life lessons…and also made my life a struggle… but they made me who I am as a chef today. I love them very much.
What is your favorite Vegetable?
Favorite veggie?? All of them. But asparagus is my super favorite.
What is your favorite fruit?
Mango for sure, but a good Georgia peach is hard to beat, too.
What about dessert?
Cinnamon roll is a no brainer.
Is there a particular cuisine that you just LOVE?
BBQ/Cajun creole. It just has so much flavor. Being from Virginia, I love Southern food. Ribs, collards, corn bread, the list goes on and on. I also love how it is a melting pot of so many cultures.
When you are not making or thinking about food (which we know is ALWAYS) where could we find you?
I enjoy being with my lady, of course. Timmmbbberrrs, Blazzzzerrs, yoga, sitting by the river, hiking, camping, and barbequing with my buddies.
What attracted you to Healthy Cooking?
Healthy cooking is important in all of our lives. Balance is everything. I enjoy the challenge as a chef to make and create healthy meals that let the ingredients speak for themselves. It’s been great for me; I’ve been eating so healthy since joining the Farm-to-Fit family.
What do you love most about being Executive Chef at Farm to Fit?
Favorite part of the job is hearing our clients give compliments on the food, of course. I also enjoy creating the menus every week.
How do you define Northwest Cuisine?
I believe Northwest cuisine is food that comes from the farm, season, mountains, rivers, ocean, and all of us chef’s using our influence on these ingredients. It’s truly a special place to be a Chef.
Why is cooking with local Products important to you?
It’s important, because you know it’s fresh. And we support our local economy as well. It also creates menus that are seasonal, and changing. People love that here, you can tell because they get so excited to go to farmer’s markets!
What can we look forward to on the menu this summer?
Lots of fresh, local, summer veggies, tasty creative salads, cold summer soups, and some tasty, healthy sweet treats.
IF you were not a chef what would you be?
A mail man, professional surfer, yoga instructor, a Timber player, ice cream scooper, a Blazer cheerleader… that’s funny.
What are some of your favorite places to eat in Portland?
I love so many places in Portland. Hmm…a few are Ken’s Artisan Pizza (Baked Calamari is so yummy) , Yoko’s sushi, Podnah’s BBQ, and Taqueria Santa Cruz. Too many, and that’s not a problem!!!
What Country would you like to visit?
Spain. So many different regions of beautiful food. Olive oil, prosciutto, seafood…. Love it.