Let’s Talk Food: Chef Maximillian Petty and Sean Arakaki of Seattle

  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Making flavored foam.
  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Various ingredients needed for Petty's experiments.
  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Sean Arakaki of Seattle, formerly of Hilo, and Petty.
  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Chef Maximillian Petty demonstrates some of this techniques.

Thanks to the Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation, Chef Maximillian Petty and Sean Arakaki of Eden Hill in Seattle worked for three days with the culinary students of Hawaii Community College’s Culinary Arts Program.

Petty approaches his culinary career like each dish he creates: imaginative, purposeful and without boundaries. He began cooking at his sister’s restaurant in Port Angeles, Wash., which made him realize his love of cooking. He went to Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore., then worked at Zaytinya, Creme, King Estate Winery and Olivia, before returning to his hometown to open Eden Hill in 2015.

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His culinary style and execution earned him accolades and a reputation for inspired and imaginative cuisine. He was a 2016, 2017 and 2018 James Beard Rising Star Chef finalist, a Eater Young Gun semi-finalist, one of Austin’s Under 40 and Zagat’s 30 Under 30.

Petty brought his right-hand line cook, Hilo born and raised Arakaki, who knew he wanted a career in which he could work hard and play hard, so he chose culinary arts. A graduate of HCC’s Culinary Arts Program, Arakaki worked at Canlis, The Rainier Club and Hilo Bay Cafe before joining Eden Hills. His parents still live in Hilo and must be very proud of their son.

Eden Hill on Queen Anne is an 18-seater restaurant with a shared plate, chef tasting and a grand tasting menu.

The shared plate, or family style, features focaccia and pretzel, which is Walla Walla onion, smoked gubbeen cheese and farmhouse dip for $11, and the crispy pig head “candybar” is d’anjou pear, champagne soup, merlot cabbage and serrano ham for $16, just to name a few dishes. The chef tasting menu is usually seven courses and takes more than two hours to wine and dine. Per person charge is $105 and with a wine pairing, $85. The grand tasting menu can be up to 24 tastings and, depending on the wine ordered, can cost $600-$800 per couple and takes more than three hours. Chef has had customers say they can’t eat or drink anymore and leave before the courses are all served.

At Eden Hill, it is all about the science of food, with nitrogen used to instantly freeze something such as a lemon to completely change the structure, fermentation of vegetables such as sauerkraut or Spanish curtido. Spherification of juices such as calamansi limes that form “caviar” to top oysters, or lecithin foam with fresh lemon juice to plate with a variety of dishes. Petty had the second-year students at HCC play with edible foil, wrapping it around tiny roasted new potatoes and calling them “Potatoes in Foil.”

It is a total experience to dine at Eden Hill, as you are asked if you would like a temporary rosemary- or thyme-scented tattoo for your arm.

I opted for the rosemary tattoo and did not wash that area for a couple of days. Petty wants his patrons to really get into the whole experience and even told a story about one couple who came for their anniversary. The next year, they both came back to Eden Hill, this time with permanent tattoos of rosemary and thyme.

With his life savings, Petty opened up Eden Hill, and when he was crying at the accountant’s office, trying to pay all his bills, he had to really embrace farm-to-table, head-to-tail or root-to-flower. In other words, he tries not to throw anything away and somehow thinks creatively to make something out of everything with as little waste as possible.

Cabbage and leftover vegetables are in a container with salt, left out, and through lacto-fermentation, a curtido is created.

Like a laboratory or a mad scientist, there are containers of isomalt, lecithin, methylcellulose, xantham gum, calcium gluconate and a canister of liquid nitrogen for all the chemical reactions desired for the final presentation.

Here is a recipe featured in the Seattle Times in an article about Eden Hill:

Geoduck with Buttermilk, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Gel and Roasted Scallion

One geoduck

1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 dash of hot sauce

1/4 cup pickled lemon thyme

One red green onion

Salt and black pepper to taste

Lemon gel:

1 cup simple syrup

1 cup lemon juice

2 1/2 teaspoons agar

Directions for lemon gel:

Whisk all three ingredients together while cold. Place on medium heat and bring to simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour liquid into a flat container to cool completely. It should set like hard Jell-O. After set, place in blender and blend until smooth. If it is too thick to blend add a touch more lemon juice and simple syrup. Place gel in bottle with fine tip.

Directions for lemon thyme oil:

Place the pickled lemon thyme in the blender.

Bring 1/4 cup olive oil to 275 degrees. While hot, very carefully pour the oil into the blender. It will start to “cook” the thyme. Turn blender on low and gradually speed up to max speed. Blend on high for 2 minutes. Pour oil through coffee strainer and let cool.

Directions for geoduck:

Slice geoduck on a bias as thinly as possible.

Place geoduck in mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon lemon juice, with a touch of salt and fresh chopped cilantro.

In a separate small bowl, mix buttermilk with hot sauce and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once achieved, lay over geoduck as a sauce.

Add dots of more lemon with a lemon gel. Drizzle with a touch of lemon thyme oil.

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Rub green onion with a touch of oil and lightly grill. Take green onion off grill, wrap in plastic wrap while still warm to steam in its own heat. Place in refrigerator 10 minutes, and then remove from wrap and slice thin. Sprinkle with a little sea salt.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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