We caught up with Chef Erich Duchene who is the executive chef of the Cast and Plow at the Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey. He talked to us about the moment he knew he wanted to be a chef, beverage pairing with his menus, his favorite cocktails, and more.
When did you first know that you wanted to become a chef?
My mom is a great cook and as long as I can remember, she was making every single meal homemade. As a toddler, I used to love make quiche dough-mixing the flour, the eggs, and other ingredients. It was messy and a LOT of fun! When I was 6 years old, our teacher in class asked us to paint something on a white plate to hang on the whole at home, guess what I painted-yes of course……. a chef with a big chef hat!.
How much consideration do you give beverage pairings at when developing a menu?
I love pairing food with beverage flavor profiles! At our restaurant, “Cast & Plow,” we often offer a tasting menu such as a local beer pairing brunch, whisky dinner, tequila dinner and so on.
What is your all-time favorite or go-to cocktail?
I am not going to lie, I love a very fancy Jack and coke lol!
Are there any mixology trends that you think go well with food and fine dining and that you hope to see continue?
I love creativity and unexpected ingredients. Handcrafted bitters and infusion.
Where do you go for inspiration when it comes to creating new dishes?
It is a lifelong learning experience. I get inspiration from my previous trips with my wife around the world, from a book, a magazine, or a discussion with a friend. Really you can find inspiration everywhere.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to pursue a career in fine dining -whether it be as a chef or behind the bar?
I think that these careers are simply a lifestyle. If after the long hours, the stress, the heat, the cuts, the intensity of a chef or a manager that is driving for perfection you still wake up every morning with a smile and do it all over again, then don’t change anything and a bright future is in your hand in this industry.
Photography courtesy of the Ritz Carlton. This interview was originally conducted for Tasting Panel Magazine.