Welcome to the “Trilogy’s Top Chefs” series, through which we’ll highlight some of the incredibly talented chefs leading the culinary teams at the Trilogy communities.  Our first article in this series, featured Chef Randy Lutz of Trilogy at The Vineyards, and the second article, featured Chef Charles Weber of Trilogy at Monarch Dunes.

In this third issue, we’ll get to know Chef Nathaniel Cooper, Executive Chef of The Mantel at Trilogy at Tehaleh in Bonney Lake, Washington.

Born and raised in the wine country of California, Chef Cooper is a recent transplant to the Pacific Northwest. Upon graduating culinary school, he completed his externship at Jean-Georges in New York City, worked for a year in Italy, and gained experience in several restaurants from San Diego to San Francisco. Chef is ready for this next adventure and is excited to be a part of the Trilogy at Tehaleh family.

Get to know more about Chef Nathaniel Cooper through our “Ten Questions for the Chef” segment, below.

1.)  When did you first discover your passion for food?

I have been in love with food for as long as I can remember. When everyone wanted to be a fireman or police officer when they grew up, I wanted to be a chef.

2.)  How would you describe your cooking style or your culinary point of view? 

My culinary style could best be described as modern comfort food. I believe that with the proper and freshest ingredients, you don’t need a lot of spices to confuse the palate.

3.)  Which chef has most inspired and influenced you during your career? 

Right now I’ve been following and reading a lot of Eric Ripert’s work. He is the owner and chef of Le Bernardin in New York. He is also the author of On The Line, a book that takes you behind the scenes of the kitchen at Le Bernardin. It’s a fascinating read!

Chef Eric Harra from Black Bar and Chef Richard Reddington from Redds have also inspired my talents and guided my theories of food and cuisine.

4.)  What are your favorite ingredients to work with? 

As I mentioned earlier, my favorite ingredients are the freshest ingredients – so many of these change with the seasons.  This past spring, I was especially excited about fiddlehead ferns.

But for my all-time, year-round favorite ingredients, my go-tos are garlic, thyme, and butter.  With these three ingredients, you can pretty much cook anything.

5.)  What is your favorite tool or piece of equipment in your kitchen?

I’d have to say my chef’s knife. My knives are an extension of my hands, so they get the most use and allow all of the creativity in my cooking to come out.

6.)  If you could have any meal prepared for you tonight, by any chef in the world, what meal would you choose, and who would prepare it?

Well, I’m a glutton and couldn’t settle for just one dish, I would want the tasting menu from Le Bernardin – and yes, I would want Chef Eric Ripert to prepare it.

7.)  Since many of our Trilogy members love to pair wine with their favorite meals, what are your favorites wines to enjoy with dinner?

I love wine, and one of my favorites is a red wine by Bogle Wineries. It’s a Petite Sirah and pairs well with most of the red meats that I prepare and eat.  To complement fish and chicken dishes, my favorite wine is a Sauvignon Blanc, preferably by Groth or Mondovi wineries.

8.)  What is the best piece of advice you would give to aspiring home chefs who are nervous about stretching out of their cooking comfort zone?

The best advice I can give to a home chef is to not be afraid to try something new. Even if it doesn’t come out exactly the way you planned, it can be a learning experience.  Experimenting in the kitchen leads to creativity. Every time I cook, I learn something new for the next time.

9.)  What is your favorite culinary event that you’ve hosted so far at Trilogy at Tehaleh?

So far, my favorite event has been Pie Day. We made several different pies and then enjoyed our creations. The community turn out was amazing and all of the members really seemed to have fun with it.

10.)  Can you give us a teaser of some of the culinary events that the Trilogy at Tehaleh community can look forward to in the coming months?

I’m really excited about the upcoming classes and culinary demonstrations I have planned.  One that I know our members will love is a class series on the “Mother Sauces.” This will be a five-part class series on the main base sauces, and each class will offer in-depth instruction on a different sauce – how to create it, and how to use it in your cooking.

Thank you to Chef Nathaniel Cooper for sharing a bit about his kitchen and his culinary perspective!