Chef Don’s Bio
I’ve done a little of everything in my working life. I’ve worked on construction crews and sung in bars to get myself through college. I cofounded The Missoula Children’s Theatre, was the leading baritone with Seattle Opera, did stints as a sales executive and consultant on both the retail and wholesale ends of the business world, and have served as a Development Officer in the nonprofit sector.
Throughout all of my professional personas, my passion has been cooking and the continuous discovery involving the bounty we call food. I love to learn about its evolution, how it has traveled through the world’s kitchens over the centuries and how it affects our health.
My journey in the world of cooking began at age 12 when my hard-pressed, working mother of four kids (I was the youngest) gave me the gift of a comfort zone in the kitchen.
She started by drafting me to help with the holiday baking, and followed by eliciting my help with getting the evening meal on the table. By the time I was 14, I was capable of putting an entire dinner together. That draft as her kitchen assistant was perhaps the greatest gift she gave me as a young man.
While working in the Opera world, I met people from all over the world who readily shared their cultural cuisines and favorite dishes. My culinary education continued to evolve through travel to other countries where I experienced new worlds of foods, flavors and preparation techniques.
In the early ‘80s, my father had a heart attack, followed by a stroke, and I was suddenly aware of my own vulnerability to the lifelong effects of eating a meat-based diet. As much as I admired Dad, I knew I didn’t want to follow his path. Healthful eating became a priority.
I was inspired to learn about vegetarianism from my daughter and the more I studied plant based diets the more I realized how the planet suffers as a result of the meat producers.
When I married my wife, she encouraged me to continue to re-engineer and share the comfort-food recipes of my youth in a more healthful way. As I pursued a plant-based lifestyle, I discovered that my plate was far more interesting, colorful and flavorful. And today, the meatless options are plentiful and varied. The development of plant-based “meats” has made even meat eaters converts.
I feel blessed that both my wife and I enjoy a pretty robust and healthy lifestyle as a result of eating predominately meatless for the past 30 years. I would say the recently coined term “flexitarian” best describes our diet over that time frame. Flexitarian means a plant-based diet which allows seafood and some animal products in moderation.
My goal is to help as many people as I can to adopt a similar plant-based approach to eating. That change doesn’t have to be made all at once. It can start with one to two meatless a week. I can do my part by creating meals that are more flavorful, memorable and sustainable in the process.
Together we can make a difference in our health and in the health of the planet.