Chef Dominic Rice identifies himself as more of a “Culinary Manager” than an actual artist, a distinction that doesn’t trouble him at all. He is passionate about making sure each of his dishes has the quality he demands by assuring every ingredient used has a meaning, a role on the plate, like telling a culinary story… and he believes all food has a story to tell! This takes “art” to a new level, in which the challenge is found in taking a couple ingredients, add the “spice” of the story, such as a bit of olive oil and salt, and let it turn into something that can really surprise and entertain the palate. Chef Dominic then looks to “manage” all of these different flavors, making sure the elements work together, using the knowledge of how the tongue will “read” them, to bring the best experience to his guests.
Of course, the most important parts of the success of a culinary story are the ingredients themselves, and the best ingredients arrive at the restaurant directly from local sources and farms. “Farm to Table” assures the freshest ingredients that are currently in season, providing the best, strongest, and most exciting flavors possible. The experience gained through years in the business gives Chef Dominic a set of skills that really enable him to be a mentor and a leader for his younger cooks, and he loves seeing both their growth and their drive to achieve their goals and attain the same standards of quality that he strives for in every dish.
As a Chef, Dominic enjoys the “chaos” that sometimes (or most of the time, really) this business brings to all those involved, which combines with the challenge of providing the best and most genuine dining experience to everyone that walks through the door. His passion for excellence is a continuation of the story that originated with his grandparents, who taught him how food, hand-crafted food, can warm people’s hearts and bring families together. He feels he was lucky to grow up close to his grandparents in Michigan, in a region of the country that has four very different seasons, which is perfect for a boy who spent most of his time hanging around in the kitchen!
All his experiences while growing up really helped Chef Dominic embrace the almost worldwide trend of “Farm-to-Table” restaurants, but with so many of his fellow chefs also following the trend, it can be quite a challenge to try and stand out in the crowd. Of course, as with any manager of quality, he faces the challenge boldly by starting with recipes that most people would consider “boring” and giving them a new face, like “writing” a new character, adding surprises and flavors that enable his guests to “rediscover” these dishes with a big and satisfying smile on their faces… whether it be some small snack, appetizer, or a complete meal, it is all about reinventing the “story” and being smart with the “characters.”
That is the way he envisions making a menu unique, will all the different dishes set apart from each other so that each one brings a different “taste experience” and an enjoyable “story” for every single guest!
Chef Dominic knows that maintaining discipline and passion is the best path to success, but he also recognizes that all his past experiences have shaped him and continue to enable him to find the right path. He fondly recalls being only a “culinary extra” in the Gary Danko Restaurant in San Francisco, and experiencing first hand how every piece of the puzzle becomes assembled into a quality dish and a satisfying experience… he learned to always have respect for the cuisine, the menu, and especially the exquisite culinary execution, topped with only the best hospitality. For Chef Dominic Rice, It is never a “one man job,” a successful story must have a variety of characters, and you can find plenty of characters in just about any kitchen!