I feel that much of my life has been a training ground for Allium. The training started even before my humble beginnings as a prep cook for Lisa Dupar and Jonathan Zimmer, who graciously allowed me to work for them, even though I had no experience in a professional kitchen.
Allium involves all the aspects of my past: my studies in botany, my years as a flight attendant (when airlines offered gracious service and amenities) and life on an island.
The training continued on in the kitchens of Gerard Pangaud, Thomas Keller and David Kinch, where I learned to respect the ingredients and to let the food speak for itself. I gained an international flair with stints in Germany and Korea. I found my courage in New Orleans during Katrina, staying for the storm, and for the aftermath. I re-directed my focus closer to home, learning at The Herbfarm to take local eating to a tighter level.
Now I have (unbelievably) the privilege of carrying on the torch for Christina Orchid, who I have admired from a distance for so many years. I am honored that she would entrust me with her baby. While it will no longer be fine dining or even Christina’s, I hope to continue the warm hospitality and tradition for great food that she created for so many years.
- Lisa Nakamura