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Chef's Kitchen

Each month, a guest chef gives us a tip that elevates their cooking or simplifies things in the kitchen; something a home cook might not know. They also provide a recipe that uses the tip, so you can practice at home. Our guest chef this month is Chef Kevin Davis of Canyon River Grill.

When Chef Kevin Davis landed at Canyon River Grill on the Yakima River, he surveyed his surrounds - a river frontage and lots of open land. A chef relocated from the city where his views were skyscrapers and busy roads, he realized his dream to have his own culinary garden could come to fruition, and indeed it did!

The secrets to a culinary garden, by Chef Kevin Davis

In its second year now, my garden is flourishing, and as a novice gardener I've learned many a lesson. Here's my advice to you:

1. Make an action plan - consider your space, weather and soil condition, and plant accordingly. For example, if you only have a small space, grow herbs.

2. Start with good soil - take time to fertilize and prepare your soil adequately, with products such as bone meal and worm castings, as once the plant is in, it's often too late.

3. Recycle your kitchen waste into your garden, i.e., make compost. There's few things more satisfying than seeing your vegetable and kitchen waste end up as beautiful soil to enrich the garden where you grow produce to supply the kitchen - a complete cycle.

4. If you're looking for some easy gardening, think about radish and mint. I harvest these daily from my garden and still have more than I need. And balance what you plant with what you can use. For example, there's only so much you can do with zucchini which can be very abundant. However pickling cucumbers and tomatoes can be preserved to use during winter months.

5. Tomatoes are one of the most popular plants chefs grow, including me. Do your research and make sure you select the right tomato for your space as they range from huge bushes to long upright stalks. And keep your soil well fertilized and watered.

6. Finally, take time to spend with your garden every day, from watering to pruning, protecting from the elements and enriching the soil.

Having a garden is one of the most fulfilling things I have done. It gives me something to look forward to each morning. Watching each new sprout not only brings you pure joy, but keeps you focused on the land and your efforts.

Tomato and Burrata Salad with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Serves 2


  • 4 medium heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 ball burrata, halved


  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, and garlic to taste
  • 2 ounces (or more, to taste) grated parmesan cheese

To Serve

  • Fresh basil leaves


1. To make the pesto, blend the seeds until coarsely ground. Add oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Pulse to a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese. Adjust seasoning. (This will make more than you need for the dish - keep in a sealed container in the fridge for many other uses - spread on bread, over steak, fish, or chicken, tossed through pasta.)

2. Spoon pesto onto plates, top with tomatoes, followed by the burrata. Scatter basil leaves over plate and season with finishing salt and freshly ground pepper.

Canyon River Grill
14700 Highway 821, near Mile Marker 15
South of Ellensburg, WA 98926


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