Seattle

Meet Chef Logon Cox of Homer - Beacon Hill's new neighbohood hot spot

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In the winding story to find the self, the path we hang our hooks on seldom reflects a catch from first cast. Practice, patience, perseverance and u -turns quite often come before the gathering. The bounty a chef’s career. For some cooking, serves as a utility, a task to feed the belly, a job to pay the bills, while for others, cooking represents a way of life, never a means to an end, rather, the start to a beginning, a conversation, a meal, an experience, an exchange. 

Meet Chef Logan of Homer restaurant on Beacon Hill, who found his way into kitchens at the age of 15 and continued working there while attending Virginia Tech on a football scholarship. Logan’s food story evolved from curiosity, exploration and dedication that had him scheduling classes around the Great Chefs Show long before the Food Network & studying CIA cookbooks in his free time. 

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Compelling choices acted upon reflect the moment a value moves from mere existing to a reality. A conscious choice made in the face of uncertainty had Logan switching from his music major to a major that would allow him a more comfortable schedule to work full time in kitchens, because he realized that his passion for food far outweighed his passion for music. Fortunate to work under chefs he admired along the east coast, then in Orvieto Italy before settling into a chef position at Sitka and Spruce in Seattle.

Though we may have missed out on enjoying Logan’s musical explorations, we enjoy his willingness to experiment with food in a way that celebrates the abundant flavor of other cuisines, while mixing with fresh, seasonal, NW ingredients. Today Logan makes Lamb Ragu with Tahini.

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TAHINI

  • 1/2 pint Tahini (Villa Jerada brand, of course)

  • 1 pint water

  • 3 lemons (juice of)

  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar

  • 5 raw garlic cloves

  • Salt to taste

In a blender (preferably a Vitamix) add your raw garlic cloves, lemon juice and rice wine vinegar.  Blend on the high setting until the garlic is finely minced and well incorporated into the juice and vinegar.  Leave this mix in the blender.  Add the water and blend on high to mix.  While the blender is running, slowly add the tahini in an even steady stream, making sure to stop adding tahini to gauge the texture of the sauce. Once you reach the consistency of something similar to thick buttermilk, stop. Add salt to taste. Place your now uber delicious tahini sauce in a container!

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LAMB RAGU

Serves 6

  • 1 boneless lamb shoulder

  • 1 quart lamb stock (beef or veal work too)

  • 1 pint thick full fat yogurt

  • 8 cloves garlic

  • 1 yellow onion (diced)

  • 3 inch piece ginger (peeled and julienned)

  • 1/2 cup red wine

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 Tbls fennel seeds

  • 1 Tbls fenugreek seeds

  • 1 Tbls Aleppo chili 

  • 2 star Anise

  • 1 Tbls Berebere

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 6 sprigs thyme

  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

In a dutch oven (that has a lid) or large stock pot (also requires a lid), place on your stove top and set to the highest setting and add 3/4 cup of olive oil. Once the olive oil starts to smoke add your garlic, onions and ginger. With a wooden spoon move the "mirepoix" around until it gets lightly caramelized. Once caramelized add the the fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon stick & star anise.  Toast the spices in the oil with the vegetables until they release their fragrance. Immediately add the red wine, bay leaves and thyme and let reduce by half.  Gently place the whole lamb shoulder in the pot and add the stock. Cover the pot with a lid and place in your preheated oven.  

Let the lamb shoulder cook in the oven until it can be pierced with a fork with no resistance (think pulled pork). Remove the lid from the pan and let cook for 20 more minutes, fully caramelizing the lamb. Pull the pot out of the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Then remove the lamb and place on a large plate or serving bowl. It's ok if a few spices and seed sticks to it, they're edible and delicious! Strain the braising liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a heat-proof container. Skim the fat from the strained liquid with a ladle and whisk in the yogurt, Berebere, Aleppo chili and salt to taste. Pour your now finished sauce over top of the lamb OR into a bowl for your guests to sauce their lamb however they like. 

You'll just need plenty of pita (I heard Homer has some good ones…), some pickled onions, raw lettuce and/or vegetables, fresh picked parsley, mint, dill & cilantro AND more Aleppo for heat.

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Logan admits that he is not an authority on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine though he has a strong affinity for the food, and the inspiration that follows. Mostly he loves the way that the dishes encourage sharing when brought to the table, which was how the meal was enjoyed at Homer on this day. When asked what dish customers order most, we’re told the spreads sell more than any other item, especially the Lamb Ragu on Tahini. People break bread at the table with warm pita straight from the oven served with delicious spreads. Sharing good food, in good company, happens without effort, exactly as the Homer experience was intended.

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Why VJ? “Every spice we use in the restaurant we buy from VJ. As well as the VJ Tahini. Their products are the best. When I was on the east coast, I used to buy from a spice merchant called "The Saffron King" out of NYC. He really sparked my interest for using high quality spices instead of the run of the mill you would get from a purveyor that would also sell you cleaning products. You just know the quality control isn't there. Villa Jerada has pristine quality and not just "luxury" spices but every seed, I know is going to be delicious.

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So many whys racing through the mind as we sit eating great food on a busy Friday night. Every table full by 6pm, with a line waiting near the door. A bright space with expansive windows dominates the front, great for curious eyes peering in on the drive home. The room acoustics vibrant as conversations from smiling faces flow forth like musical notes. Hues of whites, ocean and midnight blues, earthy yet dreamy, with natural woods to ground us in. The Homer team so welcoming, every member playing their part while they dance in tune with each other. A team that Logan credits with much gratitude for getting Homer up and running. Why the Ostrich walking with its head in the sand and what is it looking for? Gold light shining like the disk of the sun; food perhaps. Why Homer and why on Beacon Hill?

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Passion implanted on the path remind us that we have something special, a skill that needs practicing, something sweet and colorful that needs to be shared. For Logan, cooking professionally was the first part of his food story, the larger dream was always to open his own restaurant. The moment of realizing that it could be done, came from having the support and help from his wife Sara whose organizational skills and motivation were key in making Homer happen. 

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Ambition materialized brought about by love, so it comes as no surprise to learn that Homer is both an homage to Logan and Sara’s ball loving, snuggle inducing, eat everything in sight kind of pup, as well as, a tribute to the vivid memories of when the two ran a luxury adventure lodge near Homer Alaska that was accessible only by helicopter or float plane. They lived sparsely in a 10'x10' plywood cabin with one outlet and no running water. Simple living, humbled together in their tiny home, would form the foundation and inspiration for opening a neighborhood restaurant in the Beacon Hill area where they live, walk their dog and genuinely desire to be part of the fabric of the community. Homer, an extension of themselves feels like Home. Every meal has a story, and when we break bread and share food, we share community, connecting ourselves to the whole. 

Photographer - Alicia Pollett Food Stylist - Julia Whiteside

Stateside's Eric Johnson shares Pumpkin Curry & Hunan Pork Ribs

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A bright Autumn day bursts through the massive windows shimmering off beveled antique mirrors, reflecting the warmness of hovering lights and colorful palm leaves adorning the walls.  An artistic touch filters through the space. Attention to detail, a moment experienced elsewhere inspires here. A well traveled path, culinary craft, staged, tested, blended and shared. An homage to SE Asia, time spent in France, and a NW return with an old world feel.

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Today we find ourselves at Stateside, lunching with co-owner and Chef Eric Johnson. A day in his life before opening his restaurant would take him from working in NY establishments for 5 years, to clocking 2 years in Paris working with famous Michelin starred chefs Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whom he followed to Shanghai as Chef for an 8 year stint, while increasing his knowledge, fascination and palette for SE Asian cuisines.

Keeping it real with seasonal, quality, locally sourced ingredients, and a Stateside developed curry blend, one of two that VJ freshly mills

Keeping it real with seasonal, quality, locally sourced ingredients, and a Stateside developed curry blend, one of two that VJ freshly mills

Pumpkin Curry

Curry paste (PART 1)

Paste for one batch of curry:

  • 2 stalks lemongrass, smashed

  • ½ ea large onion

  • 10 cloves garlic

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 2 Tbsp turmeric, ground

  • 6 Tbsp curry powder

  • Stems from 1 bunch of Cilantro

Blend all to a smooth pasted in a blender or mortar and pestle.

Curry (PART 2)

  • ½ cups canola oil

  • 3 large onions, sliced

  • Curry paste from above

  • 1 can whole tomatoes, drained and pureed in blender

  • 5 3/4 c coconut milk

  • 2 ¾ c water

  • Salt to taste

Sweat onions in oil until fully cooked with no color. Add paste and continue sweating until fragrant. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 min. Cool. Eat immediately or even better the next day. Serve over steamed Pumpkin with rice.

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Taking it back to the city that harbored him with one of his customers favorite dishes, Hunan Chili & Cumin Pork Ribs featuring VJ spices. A sensational dish aromatic and bold from the cumin and chili, crispy on the outside, and melt in your mouth tender on the inside.

Hunan Pork Ribs

Ribs:

  • 5 lb St. Louis Cut Pork Ribs (about 2 racks)

  • 2 qt Water

  • 10 cloves Garlic, sliced

  • 1 large knob Ginger, sliced

  • 1 ea Large Onion, sliced

  • 1 piece Cassia Bark

  • 3 pc Star Anise

  • 1 c light Soy Sauce

  • 1 cs Shaoxing Wine

  • 1 large chunk, Chinese Rock Sugar

Simmer the ribs for 1 – 2 hours until fully tender but not falling apart, switch off the

pot and leave for 30 mins to rest. Transfer ribs to a dish and cool in the fridg

Marinade:

  • 1 c Shaoxing Wine

  • 1 pinch Salt

  • 2 Tbsp. Light Soy Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp. Dark Soy Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp. Potato Starch

Combine with ribs in a Ziploc bag and marinate at least 6 hours or even better, overnight.

Cumin Mixture:

  • 1 large knob Ginger, minced

  • 10 cloves Garlic, minced

  • 1 ea, Fresno Chili, minced

  • ½ c. Canola oil

Sweat together until fully cooked, without color, cool, then add:

  • 2 c. cumin seeds, toasted

Deep fry the ribs, then brush with whole butter. Finally, coat with cumin mixture.

Sprinkle with sliced spring onions (green parts only) and cilantro leaves.

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Balanced out with the freshness of spring onions and cilantro. Use plenty of quality aromatics and spices to have a recipe that will truly impress!

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Some businesses begin to solve a problem, fill a market void, or follow an urge to realize a passion. It’s clear that the latter precipitated the culmination of Stateside, and the natural progression of it’s success, for how could we not fall for the passionate creativity that lived experience inspires, especially when we get to benefit both in the aesthetics of the space, and the special flavor that is Stateside. 

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Yet, what about fate and the intersecting of life’s paths? Relationships, timing and collaboration did indeed bring the idea of Stateside into fruition. Eric’s business partner Seth Hammond methodically runs the front of the house and Eric’s girlfriend Callie Meyer did the interior design and branding. Relationships old and new bring us to this instant. Mehdi Boujrada of VJ, Eric’s trusted purveyor for aromatic quality spices, and Extra Virgin Organic Moroccan Olive Oil, sits half dreaming, filled with gratitude as the time passes, both fleeting and fulfilled. A moment made memorable with good food and conversation.

VJ Ras el Hanout cocktail served at Eric’s new retro cocktail lounge  Foreign National

VJ Ras el Hanout cocktail served at Eric’s new retro cocktail lounge Foreign National

A love for the outdoors and a strong childhood connection from summers spent in his fathers home state of Washington brought Eric back to Seattle. His fond past now intermixed with his present as he stands hand extended with a warm welcome to us all. A parting gift shared only with good friends, VJ Ras el Hanout cocktail.