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Top Chefs

By on September 5, 2016

Aji 2There is a seemingly endless amount of very talented chefs in this region. Below, we help shed some light on the people running the back of the house.

Boucanes – Nicole Burton and Brandon Ivey

Brandon Ivey and Nicole Burton, brother and sister from Oakland, California, opened the doors to Boucanes in March of 2013. Both grew up in the restaurant business since their father and uncles owned a very successful restaurant called “Ivey’s” in Jack London Square in the Bay area.

From growing up in this environment and having gained the knowledge, Nicole and Brandon both knew they would one day take over the business. After high school, Nicole continued her education in the Travel/Tourism Hospitality industry, earning herself a degree. Brandon earned his degree in massage therapy and also worked in the hospitality industry before he went off to join the army Reserves.

Brandon has now worked in culinary arts for ten years and has taken over various positions with the family, while Nicole, before Boucanes, gained her experience preparing family dinners and get-togethers. Previously, she owned a very successful janitorial business in the Bay area. After having both worked in many different fields, their passion for cooking is evident as both consider their greatest achievement in their careers to be Boucanes.

They both deem their signature dish to be their ribs, which aren’t any particular style except their own. Their rib sauce is also top notch, and they are currently planning to get it bottled.

Nicole and Brandon want to inform the community that they are happy to be back and are extremely thankful to everyone who welcomed them back with open arms. Also, they wish to remind all their costumers to always come in early or call in their orders, since they buy fresh ingredients every day and the popular products can easily run out early.

Both hope to continue providing the best customer service and excellent food.
Ruffhaus – Charles Knight
Similarly to the unique flair of his quick style serve restaurant, Charles Knight, owner of Ruffhaus Hot Dog Company, has great experiential talent in the field of culinary arts.

Originally from Denver, Colorado, Charles relocated to Northern California and thus began his highly successful culinary career. He was an Art major at American River College and soon followed his brothers into the world of culinary arts.

Starting at the young age of fifteen, Charles has now been cooking for over thirty years. After all these years of dedication to his passion and having previously worked as a pastry chef and then moving on to fine dining, this skilled Chef is no stranger to the various types of cooking in the business.

Before opening Ruffhaus, Charles worked for ten years at Slocum House Restaurant in Fair Oaks and was the Opening Chef for Henry’s Steak House at Red Hawk Casino. His signature dish at Ruffhaus is the house made sausage because they are completely unique and you’ll be unable to find them anywhere else.

Charles also deems himself to be a “closet tree hugger”, as he has always been concerned about the environment. At Ruffhaus, he is careful to always use recycled paper products whenever possible.

Besides working in his restaurant, in his spare time Charles loves to restore vintage Volkswagens, play classical and Flamenco guitar, and spend time with his family. He considers his greatest achievement to be his two children Max and Daisy, ages twelve and nine. In the future, Charles hopes for Ruffhaus to become a successful chain and for his unique take on a hot dog joint to become a franchise.

Land Ocean Roseville – Tom Lucero
Executive Chef Tom Lucero has always loved a challenge and pushed himself his whole life in order to live out his passion in culinary arts.
Having always looked younger than his peers, he has had to work even harder to get himself to the place he has today.

Tom is originally from Sacramento and attended the California Academy in San Francisco. For over thirty years now he has had various positions in restaurants before becoming a chef. Prior to Land Ocean, for twenty-eight years Chef Tom worked in restaurants including McCormick & Schmick’s, Yard House, and Black Angus Steakhouse.

He has also has incredible success as a Regional Chef where he trained several other’s who are now very accomplished chefs today. His signature dish is his delicious Pan Seared Halibut with sautéed roasted corn, fava beans, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and a roasted red pepper puree.

Also, Chef Tom is very adamant about staying active and enjoys a variety of outdoor activities. He loves kayaking, hiking, biking, and running and recently just signed up for his sixth half marathon and fourth Spartan.

His main philosophy in life is “you never stop learning.” In turn, he considers every new challenge a learning opportunity.
Sienna – Jason Doolittle
Chef Jason Doolittle has been in the business of culinary arts for twenty-five years now. While growing up, in Tucson, Arizona, he was introduced to cooking by his family. He has countless memories with them in the kitchen when they would all make varieties of dishes from hot tamales to delicious linguine in a white clam sauce.

Chef Jason’s motivations throughout his career have been his parents and brother, and he also gained inspiration from watching famous chefs such as Julia Child and Martin Yan. Chef Jason is extremely passionate about his career, and it brings him great delight to share his passion and tasty cooking with others. He describes this joyous feeling as being “on top of the world.”

Recently, his favorite dish that he’s been reworking is an Andouille wrapped scallop with avocado, roasted creamed corn, and fried leek. Chef Jason believes that it’s extremely important to keep a balance between trying new dishes and sticking with your classics. This is a philosophy he lives by in all his endeavors and currently as the Executive Chef of Sienna.

One of his more recent achievements was opening Esquire Grill at the Sacramento International Airport with Chef Kurt Spataro. Also, he had a chance to briefly work with award winning chef Suzanne Goin and open The Larder at Tavern in LAX. Furthermore, Jason believes he owes his success to his long time mentor Chef Tony Constentino.

Jason is married to wife Cindy and has three children named JJ, Jocelyn and Jenna. When not in the kitchen, he spends time with his family and usually is going to baseball, soccer, and the park with his kids.

Land Ocean Folsom – Brian Butler
Executive Chef Brian Butler of Land Ocean Restaurant in Folsom was born in Wyoming and raised in the Central Coast of California just south of Pismo Beach.
He is married to wife Katie and together have three children; Tyler, Jaxon and Wyatt. Brian attended The Art Institute of California, Sacramento in 2009 and found his home at Land Ocean when the restaurant first opened its doors in 2011. Brian always enjoyed cooking and creating in the kitchen.

After he and his wife planned and catered his sister’s wedding, Brian found himself in culinary school three months later. Brian’s style in the kitchen is described as eclectic. He is always creating something new and goes with the notion of whatever feels right at the time. He feels it is essential to implement simplicity when creating his menu; dishes that are easy to execute and enjoyable for all diners.Chef Brain believes that if you can’t replicate a dish, there is no reason to keep it on a menu.

Chef Brian recommends the Kobe Flat Iron Steak, one of the signature dishes of Land Ocean.

When at home with friends and family, Chef Brian loves creating a Tri- Tip, Santa Maria style prepared in an oak pit barbeque with salt, pepper, garlic and served with salsa. His love for culinary arts and preparing a great meal has launched his career and allows diners to enjoy his incredible creations.

Mikuni Restaurant & Sushi Bar – Taro Arai
The owner of Mikuni Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Taro has become a local and international favorite for his positive attitude, unfailing faith and upbeat demeanor. This year celebrates Mikuni’s 30th anniversary with the opening of the Hazel location back in 1986. Contributing to their success, Taro places a large emphasis on never sacrificing quality. Staying align with the “Farm to Fork” movement, his seafood purchases are also selected in such a manner. Corners are never cut for a less expensive substitute of what is listed on their menu. With daily fish deliveries, you can be assured only the finest and freshest fish is being served and what is listed on the menu is exactly what is being rolled up.

Cibo 7 Roseville – Ray Silva
Executive Chef Ray Silva of Cibo 7 has an extensive resume and a passion for culinary arts unlike any other. He started his career at RM Upstairs in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada and trained under renowned seafood chef Rick Moonen and his culinary team.

Next in his career, he perfected his culinary talents in classic French technique at Michelin 2 Star and AAA 5 Diamond Award winning Restaurant Guy Savoy as Chef Tournant. Also on Chef Silva’s resume is Michael Mina’s flagship and Michelin 1 star, Restaurant Michael Mina in San Francisco where he worked under Executive Chef Ron Siegel. He then continued in his career by working in other restaurants within the Mina Group including Bourbon Steak at the Westin St. Francis and French Bistro RN74.

Cibo 7 Ristorante Wine Bar & Spirits has granted Chef Silva the opportunity to execute his expertise in cooking. With the European-inspired cuisine, exceptional wine, and house made desserts, Chef Silva has turned his restaurant into a setting for the ultimate dining experience. It is important to him that Cibo 7’s cuisine showcases the freshest and finest ingredients so that the restaurant remains refined and unforgettable.

Whether he is using his talent to handcraft delicious pasta or bake traditional focaccia bread, Chef Silva is unique in his techniques and innovations. For Chef Silva, his culinary career is a chance to search for and embrace new challenges Bistro 33- Manny Cruz Having started in the restaurant business with no cooking experience some ten years ago, Manny Cruz would not have guessed he would eventually become a chef.

Working under the guidance of Executive Chef, Fred Haines, Manny successfully worked his way up the ranks, developing his skills in the kitchen where he eventually “fell in love with food”. Once he set his mind to cooking, everything fell into place, and Manny eventually became chef at Riverside Clubhouse in Sacramento’s Land Park neighborhood.

After almost ten years with the company, Chef Haines recently transferred Manny to Bistro 33, another of the company’s restaurants, as their new head chef. Bistro 33, with their relaxing ambiance and unique cuisine, has been one of the most popular restaurants in El Dorado Hills since their opening several years ago.
Manny considers this transition a big moment in his career and is looking forward to new challenges at Bistro 33 El Dorado Hills. Chef Cruz is eager to make his own mark at Bistro 33 as their new head chef.
Aji – Junior
Meet Junior. Junior is a chef for those in the know. At thirty-six, Junior’s technique and style was developed over nearly two decades and truly allows him to quietly stand out from the rest. With what seems like one million “sushi restaurants” in the Sacramento area, all populated with similar rolls and sauces, Junior’s lighter, more deliberate, and finessed touch shows just why Aji’s food is considered the best in the area.

“Everyone’s serving tuna and Hamachi, but almost no one is serving cured unicorn leatherjacket.”

In Junior’s mind, if you love sushi that means you love the best fish and the highest quality rice that can be found, and he is very proud to have this under his roof at Aji. Junior began by washing dishes at South Villa in Sacramento where he first met mentor Koji Hitotsui.

Hitotsui gave him nearly a year long apprenticeship in the kitchen before allowing him to be passed to his next mentor Yamani Shigeo, a man to whom Junior attributes his love of finesse, delicate flavors, and the old school way of doing things, which is the focus on quality and more costly ingredients that sushi is meant to highlight.
Junior pronounces his love for sushi by stating, “Sushi is art. It is about how much you care about your fish and your product. How much you care can quietly set you apart from the rest.”Junior also believes he is very lucky to have found two mentors in Russell, head chef, and Nick, the owner of Aji.

“There are lots of good chefs out there, but being able to work with them has taught me balance between art and business, and it has allowed me to develop another layer of skill, maybe not with a knife, but with my team.”

Junior, very excited for the future he has at Aji, states,“We are focusing more and more on great food and great raw fish while turning away from rolls that everyone else does.” Also, he is looking forward to be heading up the new, unique yakitori program at Aji where there will be good, inexpensive food from Tokyo. Junior adds, “I mean, who doesn’t love a good street barbeque?”

subscript to Lavish Living Magazine

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