About Colin: In the Restaurant
(see below for more on my personal spiritual journey and teaching information).
A little history:
I’ve worked in the restaurant industry since I was 15 years old in every position from front of the house, to back of the house and all of it in between. Being a creative person, and wanting to craft what I was learning into meaningful work, I began my culinary career in 1996 at Western Culinary Institute in Portland. Loving skiing, I began seasonally working in the Crystal Mountain Kitchen. Lucky for me, the owner of Crystal Mt. was so impressed with my cooking, he opened a restaurant based around my menus and personal styling. After my work as Executive Chef at Coho’s Seafood & Wine Bar, I moved to Hawaii to work as Sous Chef at Kinnichi’s with one of my best friends and incredibly talented chef, Peter Coyne, to better understand Japanese cooking.
As my yoga practice was deepening, I began feeling the urge to honor my value of working more closely with that land and create menus that reflected my inner work. And so I took a position as Executive Chef at The Blossoming Lotus, Kauai. At this time I also created special farm to table events that would prove to be a rough model for our restaurant Sutra, Seattle.
When we opened Sutra it was really apparent the old paradigm of being a chef was not going to work for me anymore. Even with the best of intentions it seems traditional kitchens tend toward way too much waste of product, of time, and of life energy which was depleting my creative spark and misaligned with my heart’s values.
I deeply loved our time at Sutra. I found that particular style of cooking allowed people to experience things they wouldn’t normally, and opened my eyes to how a restaurant could be successful and nourishing on all fronts. I also had a little fun over these years as National Rising Star Chef 2009, and being on Top Chef, 2011 and Cut Throat Kitchen, 2014.
In the Mana Kitchen:
The intention at Mana is to elevate what we started at Sutra by being even more connected to our sourcing, showcasing organically farmed and wild ingredients in a fresh and refined way. I’ll be creating dinner menus that create a more synergistic dining experience through a more unified vision and one that involves guests in tuning into the land.
Mana’s intention is to not only source a minimum of 90% of our food from Washington, but to practice a wide variety of preservation techniques throughout the year. In this way we can continue to support our local economy, local farmers, hone our homesteading practices, and involve our whole family in the process, living our dream which is to be in rhythm with nature’s cycles.
What I Love Most About Dining:
The thing I absolutely love most about food is that it’s one of the areas that has the potential to bridge all gaps of gender, race, social issues etc. No matter what judgements or hang-ups one has, food has a way of breaking down boundaries. Eating and cooking are simple, primal, and universal and is something that carries the capacity to bring us all together. I like that even people that aren’t naturally inclined to celebrate nature have an easy opportunity to connect through food.
In my own work, I like introducing people to new things—new flavors, textures, experiences. I feel there needs to be a reconnection to wildness, so offering foods that are a natural part of our eco-system as a way to connect to nature is a really fun vision to carry.
Yoga & Spirit
Yoga saved my life, 20 years ago. I was a restless, scared, suffering young man. My fear was so deep I could not sleep in the dark. I lived in the memory of the past, only enjoying a good moment days after it had occurred, or in paralyzing fear of the future. This is suffering - not being in the present.. Before I found yoga, and along with it, my love for cooking, the only way I understood how to be embodied and present was through extreme skiing, literally riding on the edge between life and death. But I could not bring that experience with me at all times. I knew I needed something more sustainable. Twenty years later I find that both, the practice of Yoga, as well as cooking, continue to create profound, expansive, and meaningful experiences in my life. Both practices keep me mindful and present.
When we are grounded, we are connected to earth. When our mind is open we can see clearly we realize the insignificance of the busy mind. When we are rooted with an open mind our heart naturally opens. In the space of the heart is where the true teacher dwells, and this is ultimately the goal in my classes, be it yoga or culinary teaching. In yoga, I offer a flow class that is balanced between strength and flexibility, helping students to stayrooted and open, and fully alignedin the present moment through the practice of pranayama, meditation, and asana. In the kitchen, the same presence and connection is an essential guiding tool, the most important ingredient I use.
I took my first yoga class in 1996 with 30 year veteran teacher Diane Wilson. I am so grateful for the deep teachings that brought me on to thispath. I started teaching in 1999 in a church at Crystal Mountain after a direct order/blessing from my teacher. I have since taken trainings from Kathleen Hunt, Shiva Rea, Saul David Rea, and Andrea Lapa. My style is culmination of these great teachers and influenced by master teachers such as Eckhart Tolle, Alan Watts, and by the tribal Earth worshiping ancestors. Being embodied and seeking to stay connected to my true self is the great gift that yoga has offered me. And this gift is in everything I do, on the mat, or in the kitchen. In the words of my teacher, “if you have some bread and someone is hungry….wouldn’t you share it?” I hope to share whatever I can with seekers of the truth.