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Chef Dylan Herrick

The Barking Frog has a New Executive Chef

Long-time Barking Frog Executive Chef Bobby Moore called Dylan Herrick in August 2021 to see if he'd be interested in returning to Barking Frog. At first Dylan declined, but then Bobby called again, sharing that things were changing, and it would be worthwhile to join the team again. Bobby then shared that he was planning to leave Barking Frog after 20 years to start his own restaurant. He wanted to coach Dylan to take over as Executive Chef.

Executive Chef Dylan Herrick

"I'm here today because it's the Barking Frog," says Dylan. "It's a special place to me, like coming home. I met my wife here. It's the place that gave me my culinary chops. I'm excited to build on the legacy that Bobby created with my creativity, inclusive management style, and general positive outlook." Dylan returned in September 2021. "I worked with Bobby for nearly a year before he left; for a month, there were two Executive Chefs!"

As of October 5, the Barking Frog's fall dinner menu was official ( click here to read menu ). It will have an 'offerings to start' section of small bites. "We see it as a welcome distraction between courses, or at the beginning of the meal, and to help the flow of service. The fall menu is a team effort. People say it's the first menu from the new Executive Chef, but it's also the first menu for newly promoted P.M. Sous Chef Simon Knight, who played a major role. As Executive Chef, my job is to guide, pump the brakes if needed, and make sure things happen. I'm not delusional-it's not all my food."

The new tasting menu (five courses) is different from previous tasting menus. "We're now doing dedicated beverage-paired tasting menus, with our first being a tour through Washington. The first will be the Olympic Peninsula, then Puget Sound, North Cascades, High Desert (east of the mountains), and back to Woodinville. The menu and wine will change monthly, and we may mix it up occasionally with cocktail or non-alcoholic pairings. Tasting menus are a blank canvas. I am only held back by my imagination; it is my favorite style of cooking, providing the guest with, I think, the best possible dining experience, entering the mind of a chef and igniting all senses along the way."

Dylan has given thought to what it means to follow a long-term chef like Bobby. "I want Barking Frog to feel like it's part of me, like Bobby did, and leave a legacy. I don't know what that will look like exactly, but I know what's important to me: an environment that is inclusive from the day we hire and retain the 'teaching kitchen' atmosphere so people can grow, provide feedback, and have a voice. I want our kitchen to be a place where cooks put down roots, grow their careers, and become tomorrow's culinary leaders. My stamp will be to offer exceptional dining experiences without the fuss. Yes, we're a fine dining restaurant, but also part of a property with a hotel offering high-end service with a laid-back feeling. Guests can wear flip flops or dress up and celebrate. I think it's rad that we get to cook pretty, delicious, and exciting food in a setting that has a feeling of home rather than a museum."

Barking Frog has always been considered a farm-to-table restaurant, but Dylan plans to take it to a new level. "From my time here and at restaurants around the Puget Sound, I have developed great relationships with purveyors; we can get almost anything local and do that whenever we can. Willows Lodge has a large catering business and offers guest room service, so we operate on high volume, and have to balance getting produce from outside the region to serve at scale. We've also broadened menu descriptions. Because ingredients are fresh and local, sometimes we can't get something, say broccoli. Rather than say the dish includes broccoli, we'll say brassica." Brassica is a family of vegetables that includes turnips, radishes, brussels sprouts, and more. "This is also a way to create more contact between servers and guests; they can talk about what the brassica or stone fruit is today."

One farm Dylan works with is Ecolibrium Farms, less than a quarter mile from the restaurant. Dylan is one of a handful of Northwest chefs who have partnered with Row 7 through local farms. Row 7 is a seed company built by chefs, farmers, and breeders working to make ingredients taste better before they ever hit a plate. "We've tried experimental varieties of carrots, peas, and potatoes that Row 7 allows Ecolibrium to grow and us to utilize with an understanding we can't discuss in depth what they are. We incorporate them into our dishes and give them feedback on how these vegetables react to different cooking techniques, how they change the flavor profile of a dish compared to other offerings of the same variety, as well as our overall consensus."

Dylan has gained valuable insight from others over the years. "A big lesson was about how to interact with guests and large crowds. I learned techniques, am creative, have a good palate, but had to learn about engaging with our guests and how this improves the guest experience. In the back of the house, I learned how to stay organized, work 'clean,' and show I wanted to be a leader in the kitchen. I care about everyone and want to be approachable. I got the nickname 'Hurricane Herrick' because I was all over the kitchen multitasking, which was good, but left my station a disaster because I hadn't yet learned the importance of cleaning as you go." Read more about Dylan's background here.

After 22 years (Barking Frog opened in 2000), Dylan is amplifying the wine country concept the restaurant has always had. "Willows Lodge has long been the heart of Woodinville Wine Country, but not tied down to one kind of food or experience. We continue to try new things and add new parts to the menu while preserving what has made Barking Frog a guest favorite. There is always an opportunity for ebb and flow, and we'll keep that going to provide outstanding experiences for our guests."

Connie Adams/October 2022

Barking Frog
Willows Lodge
14580 NE 145th St
Woodinville, WA 98072
425-424-2999

www.willowslodge.com/barking-frog


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