How did you become the chef of a former gas station turned restaurant (with a stellar summer patio)?
I kind of fell into cooking. And moving to Seattle was little more than putting a map on a board and throwing a dart. Way back when, I got a kitchen job at a four-star hotel in Rochester and the chef there took me under his wing and trained me as a sous-chef. He taught me everything about fine dining and plating. We'd regularly cook for parties of 500; I even got to prepare a meal for Nancy Reagan. I've been cooking for 20 years now.
What have you done to raise the bar on Lloyd's fine dining?
The first thing I did was nix the chicken strips. They were those frozen bag kind and I hate that stuff. I've replaced those with fresh chicken fried in my special homemade batter. We're also working on a new menu at the moment, so there will be more changes next week.
What do you like about cooking here versus in a hotel?
I love our regulars, like Mr. Butler and Mark over there. Often, I'm playing chef, bartender, and waiter all at once, and if I've got something cooking in the kitchen, Mr. Butler will watch the bar for me. They're the type of people who will walk right up to the kitchen and tell you if you're screwing up. I love that.
Do you take menu requests?
Definitely. If you're a chef, you've got to listen to people and what they want. My goal is to make people full and happy; I'll cook anything for anybody, whether it's on the menu or not. Tonight I'm cooking ribs and beans for dinner on request.