Chefs Mary Hinds And Stu Stein
The Philosophies of Chefs Stein and Hinds
We firmly believe that organic, chemical-free food is better for the soul, and we base our entire menu on this philosophy. We bring local fruits, vegetables, seafood, meat, and handcrafted wines, beers, and cheeses directly from our neighborhood farms and producers into our restaurant. Our menu changes daily based on the quality of organic, antibiotic and hormone-free meats and produce available to us each day. We support farming techniques that are sustainable, organic, and regenerative. We believe in the Earth-2-Table concept, which celebrates indigenous ingredients and affirms the web of ethnic strands that define this region. Our goal is to bring the entire Earth-2-Table process closer to the diner.
Our culinary philosophy is developed around flavors - isolating them, maximizing them, and combining them. The goal is to find the best possible ingredients, local or otherwise, unlock their natural flavor potential, and create a harmonious balance. We have become a nation removed from involvement with the food we buy, cook, and consume. It is a fundamental fact that no cook, however creative and capable, can produce a dish better than the quality of the raw ingredients. Organic, chemical-free farming is the first step of cooking. The raw ingredients are the stars of the show, and foods that are in season taste the best. They are bountiful - making them more available, more economical, better tasting, and more healthful. The basic premise of cooking is to always start with the freshest, highest-quality ingredients and to then coax and encourage the best out of them. In our cuisine, our guests find the familiar, the traditional, and some things that are very new, but all of our meals are infused with our passion for creating wholesome, delicious foods.
Our wine philosophy stresses that food and wine are intended not only to complement each other, but also to inspire one another. A list should be able to offer something for everyone: from the first-time wine drinker to the most serious oenophile. California, Washington, and Oregon offer us great diversity in varietals and styles, allowing us to showcase the best the region has to offer and make the interplay of the wine and food an integral part of the dining experience. Our list is weighted toward California and the Pacific Northwest, but we offer a limited inter- national selection from some world-class producers - some wines are just too good to pass up.
Our service philosophy is described as "invisible"... seamless, unobtrusive yet attentive. The goal is to anticipate and then address every guest's needs, questions or problems. Our staff is educated in the "local knowledge" of cuisine and wines. The restaurant is about ambiance: cloth napkins, flattering lighting, soft music, nonjudgmental waiters, and a dining room that provides a haven from urban reality. The Peerless, through the use of an open kitchen design, makes our guests feel as if they are in a European public square where people gather to eat and drink.
Stu Stein's culinary background is extensive. In 1991, he won the Champagne Mumm Award for Culinary Excellence while working as Sous Chef at the Chicago restaurant La Fontaine (later to be called Jean Claude's) and was given the opportunity to work and study in France with the legendary chefs Paul Bocuse of Lyon and Francis Garcia of Bordeaux. Six months later, Stu returned to the United States to work as Sous Chef at Ciboulette in Atlanta - a restaurant consistently ranked the area's finest French dining establishment by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. After serving as Chef de Cuisine at Kansas City, Missouri's renowned Café Allegro and a brief stint in Atlanta, where he helped open and became the Chef de Cuisine at Riviera Restaurant (Zagat Survey's "Best New Restaurant of 1996"), Stu moved to Washington, D.C. to become Executive Chef at the renowned Oval Room. During his tenure at the Oval Room, the restaurant was rated "Excellent" by the Zagat Survey (in 1997 and 1998), and the Washington Post rated it as one of the city's finest dining destinations. While at the Oval Room, Stu was asked to participate in the International Pinot Noir Festival, held in Oregon. He immediately became enamored with the Pacific Northwest and accepted a position at the California Culinary Academy as a Chef Instructor. Finally, in January 2000, Stu joined The Peerless Restaurant in Ashland, Oregon, as Executive Chef and Co-Owner. Fresh, bold flavors, and seasonal Pacific Northwest cuisine are The Peerless Restaurant's trademarks, and the high quality of the food and the relaxed atmosphere have quickly made the restaurant a dining destination. Under the direction of Stu Stein and his wife (co-owner and Executive Chef) Mary Hinds, The Peerless Restaurant is the only restaurant in Ashland to win a coveted Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence for 2004 through 2001 and the Outstanding Oregon Wine List Award from Wine Press Northwest Magazine. As a radio food commentator, Stu can be heard weekly on Jefferson Public Radio (Southern Oregon/Northern California National Public Radio affiliate).
Mary Hinds, a native Oregonian, began her culinary career at a specialty bakery while earning her degree in Psychology at Whitman College. After graduation, Mary continued her culinary training at Jake's Famous Crawfish, one of Portland, Oregon's historic restaurants, moving up the ranks to Lead Line Cook before leaving in 1988 to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where she was named "Outstanding Student of Wines and Spirits" in her graduating class. Mary spent her CIA externship at Kasper's, one of Seattle's premier restaurants, learning everything from hot and cold line positions to pastry work to banquet preparation. After completing her culinary education, Mary worked several years for Sheraton, first as Sous Chef at the Sheraton Washington (D.C.) hotel, then as Chef de Cuisine at The Sheraton Society Hill in Philadelphia, and finally as Executive Chef at the Sheraton Suites in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, where she not only oversaw the entire day-to-day culinary operation but also more than doubled the food and beverage revenues of the hotel. In 1997, Mary accepted the position of Executive Chef at the brand-new McCormick and Schmick's Seafood Restaurant in Washington, D.C. Under her direction, the restaurant earned several awards and accolades, including Washington Magazine's Best New Restaurant of 1997 and Best Seafood Restaurant in 1998. In 1999, Mary moved back to the west coast to become Executive Chef at McCormick and Kuleto's Seafood Restaurant in Ghirardelli Square. Mary's seafood expertise, in addition to making her a sought-after chef, was also the basis for her invitation to Hong Kong as a guest chef at the exclusive Aberdeen Marina Club in both 1999 and 2000. In early 2001, Mary returned to her home state and joined her husband Stu Stein at The Peerless Restaurant in Ashland, Oregon. As Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Mary's culinary and business talents are contributing to both the quality and integrity of the food and the financial success of the business.