Coho Restaurant in Friday Harbor offers fine dining on San Juan Island.

How this San Juan Island Chef Develops New Menus

Menu Development Process These coming weeks should be pretty interesting at Coho. Chef Bill is on the creative path again, developing new dishes for his Fall menu. That means he'll be trying out lots of specials in addition to the regular menu. But don't for a moment think that we're using our guests as "guinea pigs." The specials are actually well tested before they are even announced. The process starts on Bill's daily runs with his dogs on the trails of San Juan Island or the old gravel pit. It's his time to let his brain unwind, to allow thoughts to come and go at will. When he is relaxed and open to whatever comes up, that's when the ideas start coming to him. The ideas are then analyzed with viability and available ingredients in mind, and he might call farmers and purveyors to see what's been planted or scheduled to come in during the coming months. Costs of ingredients are always a consideration as well. Of the ideas that seem promising, he actually creates the dishes for himself first, maybe more than a few times, tweaking and refining. Once that's done, those dishes that he likes, he'll offer as a special, to see how it flows when making it during busy service hours. This is a critical consideration; the dish may be fantastic, but if he can't get all the freshly prepared components pulled together in a reasonable amount of time when hungry diners are waiting, then it's simply not going to work as a regular menu item. As always, Bill and the staff are looking for immediate guest feedback, but it's even more welcome on the specials. How does it look? How does it smell? Is it cooked to your liking? What do you think of the interplay of flavors and textures? If you tell us as you're dining, we can make immediate adjustments - better for you, better for us. So come on in, try one of our specials, and let us know what you think. We're all ears!      

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