Our new Executive Chef Damon Gordon is like a breath of fresh air on a windless day. Now overseeing the culinary outlets at Miramar, Gordon has big plans to “innovate and do new things” at FIG, Lobby Lounge, and Dogtown “The reason I became a chef is that I love to cook,” he says. “That drives me on a day-to-day basis.”
Born in Ipswich, England, Gordon has worked alongside some of the world’s top Michelin-star chefs: Alain Ducasse, Claude Troigros and Marco Pierre White. He’s been the top toque at Miami’s stylish Delano and NYC’s Gansevoort hotels.
“I love using vegetables when it comes to cooking,” he says. Gordon learned from Alain Ducasse there are many ways to coax flavor from a humble vegetable–” roasted, grilled, en papillote,” he says. “When it’s wild mushroom or sunchoke season, we’ll be incorporating that.”
With a strong commitment to sustainability, Gordon looks forward to expanding the composting program in the kitchen, and, along with his team, growing the Organic Rooftop Garden that overlooks the ocean. He also plans to source seasonal produce from the farmers and foragers at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, “that little treasure chest up the street,” he says. “Being able to support and sustain local growers is one of the things that drives me.”
A spotlight will shine on vegan and plant-based dishes at FIG, but Gordon has his own uniquely elegant spin on that, too. “When we do vegan cuisine, we’ll use all vegetables, and the vegetables will be the star of the plate,” he says. For example, he plans to put marinated Hen of the Woods mushrooms, grilled like a steak and topped with crispy tempeh and red wine emulsion, as an option for the four-course New Year’s Eve menu. Other innovations include slow-roasted red onion with wild mushrooms and slow-cooked duck with local carrots. Traditional holiday specials will be featured, such as a Prime Rib Carving Station and a four-course Thanksgiving Dinner. “Looking outside the box is the only way to create something new and move it forward,” he says. “Starting with a superior product, using the best ingredients, and cooking them perfectly.”
Aspirations toward perfection–along with a love of simplicity–may have been shaped by years of cooking Japanese cuisine in NYC. With all of these stellar influences, guests at FIG can expect food that is not only full of flavor but served with a gorgeous aesthetic on the plate.
The recipe, according to Gordon, sounds simple, though it’s anything but: “Support for sustainability initiatives along with using the best ingredients and cooking them perfectly.”