Bekofsky is one of 60 guest chefs teaming up with Northwest farmers to transform locally sourced, sustainable ingredients into edible art. He will be a featured chef for Lunch on the Lawn at the International Pinot Noir Celebration. in 2015, Bekofsky used liquid nitrogen and Kitchen Aid mixers to create Pinot Noir ice cream, Riesling ice cream and Moscato floats on-site during IPNC’s Sunday Sparkling Finale Brunch.
Recently, we stepped into his kitchen to ask him about his work.
How do you share your talent with Linfield students in Dillin Hall?
I try to constantly rework our menus in a way that highlights the season. The bounty of our local season here is August through October, and we focus on our vegan and vegetarian station and the salad bar, incorporating the local produce as much as we can. We also look at food trends and see what the students like. Last year, they really enjoyed middle Eastern food – tabbouleh salad, homemade hummus, fresh made pita chips, wraps, and stews made of ingredients like butternut squash, toasted almonds, raisins, tomatoes, curry, cumin and other spices.
What is your favorite dish to prepare?
Again, it’s all seasonal for me. I grew up with a garden in the back yard and I do that with my kids as well. It’s all about the best produce that you can pick and eat right now. That’s the part I like… enjoying the bounty of the seasons. I can’t commit to one dish because it changes all the time.
What can we expect from you this year at IPNC?
I am doing a chilled heirloom tomato soup with fresh Dungeness crab and pea tendril salad. I have a ton of heirloom tomatoes ripening right now – 200 pounds. The soup will have a little bit of a thai influence with coconut milk, lemongrass, scallions and chicken stock. So all this depth of flavor, pureed nice and creamy. Best of the season, primetime, we focus on that. This is for the first course on Friday, and it pairs nicely with Pinot Gris.
Bekofsky, at Linfield since 2009, has always known he wanted to be a chef. Raised in the Pacific Northwest on macrobiotic principles in an organically minded household, he sees his decision as a natural one.
“I was always around food, and Mom was always in the kitchen cooking,” he said. “The garden was always out back, so I was hands-on with that and in the kitchen.”
Bekofsky embarked on a 30-year adventure that led him to his position as district chef for Sodexo at Linfield College. He began work at age 14, making salads and washing dishes at a four-star restaurant. From there he traveled to Europe to open his mind to other cultures while “eating on a backpacker budget.” He stayed in Germany to work at a hotel restaurant in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. He returned to Eugene and was hired as the executive chef of the Excelsior Cafe. Bekofsky earned a degree at the Culinary Institute of America and since then he has worked at restaurants around the United States.
Now in its 30th year, the IPNC is a three-day event, famous around the globe as a mecca for lovers of Pinot noir and northwest cuisine. World-renowned winemakers, northwest chefs, media, epicures and wine lovers gather at Linfield for three days of exploring Pinot noir, savoring inspired cuisine and learning and celebrating with luminaries of the food and wine world.