Top Resort Chef: Executive Chef Sunny Jin, The Allison Inn & Spa
We’re switching up our Top Spa Chef feature this month to turn the spotlight on a fabulous Top Resort Chef and some of his unbelievable cuisine! Executive Chef Sunny Jin of The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, Oregon, brings the garden-to-table concept to life at the Inn’s JORY Restaurant.
While a graduate of Portland’s Western Culinary Institute, Chef Jin’s culinary career didn’t start in school. “Cooking has always been a strong influence in my life,” shared Chef Jin. “My mom cooked nearly every dinner at home as far back as I can remember. I still remember sitting as close as I could in front of the TV after kindergarten with my own-made snacks and watching all my favorite cooking shows. I can recall an absurd amount of Jeff Smith episodes, as well as Great Chefs of the World. Before second grade I was trussing chickens, and basting roasts. I can’t figure out why the process was so interesting at an early age, but I’m sure glad I have something to fall back on considering my lack of life-pertinent skills!”
This curiosity in all things culinary led Chef Jin on a learning journey across the globe. “[It has] led me to every type of kitchen imaginable. I’ve worked in little mom-and-pop restaurants, Chinese-American buffets, and even cooked at a country club for free golf.” Once Chef was married he began to take his passions more seriously, enrolled in culinary school and started his work and studies in prestigious and renowned kitchens around the globe including the California’s French Laundry, Australia’s Tetsuya, and Catalonia’s El Bulli. During his culinary journey of sorts, Chef honed his skills and explored world class culinary cultures. Once Chef Jin returned to the U.S. he began his position at JORY, where his menu is focused on seasonality, garden-to-table, and an affinity for wine.
This garden-to-table value is what inspired Chef in his answer for what was up next, or what he hoped was up next in the culinary world. “I would love to see more collaborative dinners between farmers and chefs. It’s a vital connection and gaining more traction. Bringing our guests closer to the farmers instills a stronger respect to produce they may currently have in their home.”
Regarding trends that are passé Chef said bluntly, themed restaurants. “I like a good Renaissance Festival with jousting as much as the next guy. I’ll take a giant smoked turkey leg and goblet of Mead any day! I just never understood the appeal of seeking out a restaurant for its indoor tiki torches, or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s jacket from Terminator. But, the more I think of it, aren’t we all catering to our particular niche clientele? Hmmmm…”
Want a taste of JORY at home? Chef shared his recipe for a Blueberry Beet salad which has a true garden-to-table gives back story behind it! “The story of our blueberries is one of my favorites among many,” shared Chef Jin. “There’s a sizable plot of old growth blueberry bushes on our property. The bushes grow alongside an old, one room schoolhouse within eyesight of our dining room. They produce large, fragrant, and immensely sweet berries from all the direct sunlight and careful pruning. They become ripe and ready every July, yet they go unpicked by our hands. Instead, they are harvested by our local youth outreach program. We have developed a lasting relationship that allows kids from our community to harvest the berries. They are sold back to us, and local businesses at a fair market price. This active involvement gives the kids a basic sense of how to run a business, and at the same time put money back into a worthwhile program.”
Blueberry and Beet Salad
with Chèvre Panna Cotta, Mizuna, Radish Lamelles, Cardamom Graham Cracker, Blueberry-Verjus Gastrique
For the beets:
8 baby beets
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 pod of star anise
8 each peppercorns
8 each allspice
1 quart water
Olive oil, to taste
Banyuls vinegar, to taste
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1. Clean baby beets by rinsing under cold water. Scrubbing may be necessary but be careful not to puncture the skin.
2. Place in a shallow pan with juice from the orange, cinnamon, bay leaf, star anise peppercorns, allspice, and water. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for 60-90 minutes. Check doneness with a toothpick. Beets are done when tender all the way through.
3. Peel the beets while still warm. The skin should remove with ease by rubbing a paper towel over the skin. Cool the beets in the refrigerator. Slice into wedges once they are cooled. Toss the beets with olive oil, banyuls vinegar, and sea salt and pepper.
For the Chèvre Panna Cotta:
1 cup chèvre
½ cup mascarpone
2½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
4 sheets of gelatin (bloomed in ice water)
Small silicone molds (roughly 2-3 ounce molds) to hold the panna cotta
1. Gently warm all the ingredients (except the gelatin) over a double boiler. Remove from the heat once all ingredients are fully emulsified.
2. Squeeze the excess water out of the gelatin, and gently stir into the mixture until it dissolves completely.
3. Next, slowly fill the silicone molds with the warm panna cotta mixture.
4. Gently place in the refrigerator on a level surface until it sets.
For the Cardamom Graham Cracker:
2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons of sugar
½ cup of melted butter
1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
A pinch of sea salt
1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
2. Stir in the melted butter until evenly combined.
3. Take the mixture and roll to a quarter inch thick.
4. Place onto a sheet tray and bake at 350°F for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until dry and golden brown.
5. Once finished, set aside to cool. Break the cracker to your desired shape and size.
For the Blueberry-Verjus Gastrique:
1 pint blueberries
1 pint red verjus (red wine is a great substitute)
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
Banyuls vinegar, to taste
1. Place the blueberries, verjus, sugar, and water in a sauce pot and cook on low heat until the berries start to fall apart.
2. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, and reduce until the mixture becomes a syrup consistency.
3. Balance the heavy sweetness with banyuls vinegar. Cool, and set aside.
1. Drizzle the verjus gastrique on a chilled plate.
2. Place a portion of the chèvre panna cotta on the plate.
3. Add the marinated beets and blueberries to the plate.
4. Place a few portions of the cardamom graham crackers over the beets.
5. Garnish the salad with radishes and Mizuna to give a small sense of spice.