Just when you think you've got it straight, you find that some of your favorite chefs have moved around. That includes young and energetic Logan Cox, last seen in the kitchens of New Heights. Now overseeing the things at Ripple, a move he made more than a year ago, Cox seems to have found his footing in a very comfortable setting. "This restaurant is more casual," he said. "It has a strong focus on quality ingredients: local, sustainable, organic and environmentally sound. It is a restaurant with a conscience."
A hometown boy who has made good, Cox launched his career at an early age, when he gave up playing football to work in the kitchen. One of his first kitchen experiences was making bagels at Chesapeake Bagel Bakery at the age of 15. Then in college, he worked in several fine-dining restaurants. He finally gave up a career in advertising to pursue a full-time cooking career, though he chose not to go to culinary school.
Instead Cox worked for several top-notch area chefs, such as Bob Kinkead of Kinkead's and the now-closed Colvin Run Tavern in Tysons Corner. Cox further honed his kitchen skills by traveling to Italy, where he spent a year learning classic Umbrian techniques from chef Lorenzo Polegri of Zeppelin Ristorante in Orvieto.
|If you go|
|» Where: 3417 Connecticut Ave. NW|
|» Info: 202-244-7995; rippledc.com|
|» Hours: Daily from 5 p.m.|
A former line cook at Palena, the Cleveland park restaurant owned by former White House Chef Frank Ruta, Cox credits Ruta for allowing him to learn proper techniques and to strive for perfection. Before that, Cox had the good fortune to work for another super chef, Tarver King when he was at Woodlands Resort and Inn in South Carolina, whom Cox credits for letting him explore and define his culinary style.
And that brings Cox to the present, where he faces daily challenges with his menu creations. "Local farmers make deliveries once a week," he said, "so the menu changes daily. ... The menu is hyper seasonal, and that forces me to be creative with what I have." Cox comes up with recipes almost in anticipation with what farmers will bring. Take asparagus, for example, knowing that the spears were in season, Cox devised recipes for soups, purees and asparagus wrapped in mozzarella cheese.
In addition, Cox stresses that his dishes are straightforward and that each dish showcases flavor and texture. But at least one dish has become semi-permanent -- his platter of seasonal vegetables. "Some are pickled, others roasted, raw, or blackened. And these are dressed with a cardamom vinaigrette with a charred lettuce puree forming the base," he said.
As it has turned out, his parents, once skeptical of his career choice, now fully embrace his decision. Besides, says Cox, they visit the restaurant at least once a month to savor their son's creations.
What is your comfort food?
Braised chicken legs like chicken cacciatore.
What has been the greatest influence on your cooking?
I guess traveling to Europe, especially Italy, and noticing the differences in food cultures. I definitely [think] that here we have an appreciation for ingredients and for using whole animals. Waste is a major concern.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
That's tough, I have been to many places, but Seattle: I love the oysters, and the seafood is spectacular. I could go back.
Which is your favorite ingredient?
I guess right now pork because it is so versatile.
What's in your fridge?
A bottle of prosecco, old Thai food, and I guess cheeses. I am not home enough.
Serves 5 as a snack
1 pound shelled pecans, raw, unsalted
1 cup diced Benton's Bacon (available online) or other smoky bacon like Nueske's
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Espelette pepper powder, or Spanish pimenton or smoked paprika with a pinch of cayenne
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange the bacon pieces on a sheet tray in the middle shelf of the oven, and bake until the fat is rendered, 10 to 15 minutes. Strain off the bacon fat, and set aside in a bowl; place the crispy bacon pieces in a separate bowl.
Toast the pecans on a sheet tray for about 12 minutes, or until their oils are released and they have a nice aroma. Toss the hot pecans with the bacon fat, and season them with the salt and Espelette pepper. Spread them out to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Before serving, garnish the nuts with some or all of the crispy bacon.