I’m not one for being smitten with celebrities. I never had posters of New Kids on the Block on my bedroom walls, etc. But I’ve discovered recently, that food stars are an entirely different thing. Perhaps it’s because these celebrities capture so many of your senses at once, or because my adoration of food as one of life’s greatest and most profound pleasures gives me something in common with them, or perhaps it just because Tillamook is a choice product for so many incredible chefs and in this line of work I’m getting to actually meet them in person. Regardless, if I could find a poster of Chef Keegan Gerhard, I would most certainly hang it on my kitchen wall.
I recently had the good fortune to be on location at his famous D-Bar Restaurant in Denver, Colorado as were filming him for his debut in the Tillamook Kitchen. Keegan is part chef, part food philosopher, part entertainer, and part family guy.
Keegan as chef:
Showing us how easy it is to make a swan out of his pate a choux recipe! He said when he was in school they would practice making swan heads for hours to get it just right. I would say he still has his flair.
Keegan as philosopher:
The one thing I wish I could have captured for you all is Keegan’s dedication to making delicious food accessible. He has extraordinary classical training. He knows all the fanciest French words for tasty things. But he doesn’t use these tools and tricks to create food that is relegated to some white-linen, reservations-only eatery. He shows you how to do simple things to make your food good and whole and as it should be. Not being a terrific cook myself, I was so inspired to watch Keegan cook, because he not just makes it look easy but he teaches you how to make it easy yourself. His Mac & Cheese recipe is the perfect example. I have tasted a LOT of macaroni and cheese in my day, and I can definitively say his Mac & Cheese is the best I’ve ever had in my life, especially with a touch of the Tillamook 3 Year Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar. That little touch of quality made all the difference in the world in this easy dish.
Keegan as entertainer and host:
After a long day of filming (and mind you, Keegan and his crew had already been in the kitchen hours before we showed up prepping all the food for the day!) Keegan invited us to dine at D-Bar and we got the absolute royal treatment. WHAT a gracious host! Even though the restaurant quickly became jam-packed for the dinner hour, he repeatedly kept stopping by to check on us and bring us special dishes. He kept pairing drinks with all our delicious eats: beer to pair perfectly with his special bacon pimento cheeseburger, amazing wine from his friend’s secret stash, winter-warm coffee drinks to protect us from the 1 degree weather outside. And all presented and done with only the passion of someone who loves what they do.
Keegan as family guy:
Speaking of love, sweethearts and business partners Keegan and his wife Lisa Bailey wrote the book. When Keegan was finally able to drag Lisa out of the kitchen, we were able to capture this photo:
It just says it all.
Huge thanks to D-Bar and the wonderful crew out there in Denver! All in all, it was an amazing culinary adventure! Good luck on your new San Diego restaurant. We’ll be sure to stop by soon!
~ Gillian of the Tillamook Team