Tom Douglas: Celebrity Chef On Foodie Style
Toss aside your vision of a celebrity chef in a white coat. Tom Douglas cooks it up in a t-shirt and shorts and says the single most important thing in any meal…is love.
When you think of a top chef, you envision the white coat and food, plated with pretension. Not for Tom Douglas. Seattle’s top celebrity chef made his mark on the food world with superior ingredients, a laid-back attitude and a whole lotta love.
Even now, Tom Douglas is a bit offended (in a light hearted way) when people say they were surprised he beat Chef Morimoto on Iron Chef. The secret ingredient in that episode was salmon, and while Douglas knows salmon well, Morimoto, the sushi chef, is handy with fish. “People can’t believe I beat Morimoto. I say, screw you,” Douglas laughs.
Bottom line, Douglas doesn’t take himself – or food – too seriously. That, he says, is core to his own list of secret ingredients to having style when it comes to enjoying food.
What to Wear:
His favorite shirt for cooking is the staff-only t-shirt with the logo “Serious Pie” (his newest restaurant showcasing pizza fare).
“Be comfortable and enjoy yourself with food,” says Douglas. “Whether you’re in shorts in a t-shirt, in a gown, or in a dress. Whatever you’re wearing, as long as there’s no pretension, it’s great. I don’t like places that require a coat and tie. I understand what a restaurant is offering. It’s the whole experience.”
What He Keeps in the Chef’s “Closet”:
In a word: “fresh”. Douglas stocks his chef closets (the refrigerator, the pantry) with ingredients he considers “best” for that day…and then takes it from there. Fresh is key, and buying in bulk is the last thing you should do, according to Douglas.
Step into his refrigerator, and you’ll see small portions of shiitake and chanterelle mushrooms…small containers of edamame, broccoli and garlic…little trays of bean sprouts, chocolate bites…and small boxes of fresh fruit. There are a few trays of meat; the best cuts of beef, lamb and more. In the pantry, there’s not much in the way of staples, since it’s all about “fresh”, but you will always see soy sauce and oh - peanut oil. Douglas loves everything about it.
“We try not to buy anything too far in advance. I hate it sitting around. Nothin’ sexy about old food. Whether it’s walnuts, or anything else. Some things you should buy in bulk. Other things you shouldn’t. If you buy soy sauce, you should use it in a week. Americans like to buy big – like at Costco – and then it degrades. I like to buy the smallest quantity and use it soon. Nothing sexy about old food.”
• Born in Cleveland, raised in Delaware
• Started cooking professionally at age 17 at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware
• Nicknamed “Cream Puff” on the football team in high school because he always brought the food from home economics class to the team
• Guilty pleasure: Cream Pies
• Favorite Dish: Chinese BBQ duck with garlic bok choy and hoisin sauce
• Never gets tired of eating