Part of Food Republic’s mission is to encourage guys to cook at home. Now it’s time to give props to those who do. Here, we start a new series devoted to men who never use the excuse “I’m too busy to cook,” men who go all out and turn their home kitchens into intense centers of activity to dazzle friends and family with great food. To inaugurate this new series, we tracked down Darryl Wash, a bi-coastal venture capitalist who throws elaborate dinner parties in his LA and NYC homes. Read all about it below the photos.
Darryl Wash is the perfect example of a guy who seems like he’d be too busy to cook at home. A former investment banker with Goldman-Sachs and others, he’s now Managing Partner for Ascend Venture Group. He and his wife split their time between his native Southern California — they have a home near Santa Monica, complete with a spacious kitchen — and midtown Manhattan, where their apartment is tantalizingly close to the Whole Foods at the Time Warner Center.
We caught up with Wash recently as he prepped for a Thursday night dinner where the menu — which he’d already printed on heavy-stock paper — looked like something out of a 3-star restaurant:
- Olives, Quicos and Caramelized Bacon
- Cinnamon Vanilla Bourbon Sours
Fonseca Siroco White Porto
- Spinach-Infused Risotto with Glazed Parsnips and Smoked Bacon (Vincent Girardin 2002 “Les Perrières” Meursault 1er Cru)
- Pan-Seared Shrimp Adobo with Pickled Cauliflower (Jacques Puffeney 2007 Cuvée Sacha Arbois)
- Grass-Fed Beef Prepared Sous Vide with Roasted Baby Mushrooms and Grapefruit Balsamic Roasted Broccoli Rabe (Harlan Estate 2000)
- Crêpes with Clementine Caramel
How did you first get into cooking?
I started cooking about 35 years ago now. When I was very young my grandmother would take care of me after school, and she’d cook regular home meals, more traditional Southern cooking. She grew up in South Carolina, and I just liked to help her. When I went to junior high I was a part of an integration busing effort. A lot of kids knew each other, and I didn’t know any of them. And one day I decided to make chocolate chip cookies and I said I’m going to take these to school. I was an instant hit.
And now you cook more complicated things for friends. How do you find the time?
I really enjoy the whole process of entertaining. When you cook for someone and you share those experiences, they are quite memorable. I view them as life’s moments. My happiest moments are literally cooking for a group and sharing that passion for the food and the wine. And my tastes are eclectic so I’ll cook anything. My wife is half-Danish, so I’ll cook Scandinavian food through northern Italy, even some Asian cuisines.
What about the menu you’re currently preparing for this dinner party? How did you put it together?
All the recipes are self-created. Some are inspired by different people’s cookbooks. Thomas Keller and his new sous vide book, Grant Achatz. Masterful cooking, but hard to master. I view myself as a culinary explorer. I listed that on my resume when I first graduated from college. That was 25 years ago plus.
What do you look for when you’re creating these dishes?
Really it’s what interplays flavors and textures and how they play off one another that’s interesting. Sometimes I’ll take a classic dish and try to put a twist on it or deconstruct it. I remember one New Year’s I made deconstructed tiramasu which ended up consisting of coffee mousse, a dark chocolate ganache — just a hint of that — and then a cognac whipped cream. It was actually quite interesting.
When do you experiment? Is this a Sunday afternoon thing?
No, my laboratory is my friends. They are total guinea pigs. I tell them to come and try to make them something memorable and magical. And every now and then I’ll make something and we’ll all go, “Um, let’s not do that one again.”
Are people pretty honest with you?
Yes and no. You can tell by what’s left on the plate.
I notice that your menu also has pairings. Who’s the sommelier?
I’ve been into wine about 20 years. I have a large collection, from sparkling wines up to dessert, white, reds, all regions of the world. From Greek wines to Chilean wines. Classic wines like Italian, French and Napa. The only hard part in this is stemware. I probably own 500 pieces of stemware between the two places and cleaning them is a bear. I have to do it by hand.
It looks like you also have a pretty serious whiskey collection.
I’m into spirits. The whole culinary experience from mixologist all the way through desserts. I think the only failing I have is that because I have an interest in all of it, I’m probably not as accomplished as anyone focused on one thing. I own a lot of spirits. I like whiskey. I do like bourbon a little better than single malt.
Let’s talk a little about gadgets. What are some of the toys you’ve come to really love over the years as a home cook?
The absolute thing you have to have is a standing mixer. I like the ones by KitchenAid. The one thing you will not believe I don’t have and never feel the need to possess is a food processor. I do most things by hand. I have a mini prep food processor to whip small batches, but never had the need for a [regular] food processor. I love my ice cream machine. I make a lot of frozen desserts. And I love my mandolin.
Okay, this is all well and good, but seriously, you’re a busy guy who has to make enough to support two homes and a serious wine and spirits jones. How do you find the time to do this?
It’s a passion. Just purely a passion. I think that for me it is therapeutic. It is a wholly different thing than the confines of business management. This is all about trying to explore uncharted territory and then sharing it. It’s about the sharing.
Know any guys with a similar passion for home cooking and entertaining? Nominate ’em for future installments of The Everyman Cook on Food Republic at firstname.lastname@example.org