30 Under 30 winner Cole Dickinson has worked with Michael Voltaggio on and off for seven years, first at Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, then at The Bazaar at SLS and now as chef de cuisine at Ink. He works in tandem with the Top Chef winner, from running the day-to-day operations of the kitchen to collaborating on new dishes for the menu. If you don't see Voltaggio at the pass, you'll spot equally well-inked Dickinson making sure every dish is as spot-on as the next. We checked in to see what's going on at the Melrose restaurant for the first weekend of spring.
What's your favorite dish on you menu right now?
The one dish I just put on the menu is what we're just calling the "pea dish." It has different textures of peas, plus almond blossoms, surf clams and Dungeness crab. There's a pea and almond jus, pea flowers and tendrils, sugar snap peas and English peas. It's just a really "springy" dish. We're selling a lot of it right now.
Why does it rock your world?
Because, well, it's delicious. It also just looks really good on plate. Everything is naturally sweet. It's just delicious.
What was the inspiration behind it?
We have a woman that we buy stuff from, her farm is about 90 minutes from here, and she said her almond trees were blossoming. And I remembered how delicious the almond blossoms were last year. And at the farmers market, I have people looking for stuff for me, and our guy had some great peas. So from there I started putting it together. I tried juicing whole English peas and it was delicious, and since I wanted to use the almond blossoms, I added in some almond oil and sea salt. I'll just see something in my head and imagine how it tastes, and try to plate it towards that picture in my head. Sometimes it's exactly how I picutred it, sometimes it's totally different. This was about 50-50.
What should we drink with it?
You know what? I don't drink at all, but I grew up in Sonoma Valley and know about wine. I imagine a good Sauvignon Blanc would be great with this, or maybe a fuller bodied Chardonnay.
What ingredient (produce, meat, spice, etc.) are you excited to use next and why?
My favorite thing, and I eat about 10 of them a day, are these really delicious tangerines. Ojai Pixie tangerines. They're on the hamachi dish right now, just really simply served, it's ridiculous. We also have fava leaves, and I'll probably start working on something with those today.