Elk-inspired private dinner event // Chefs David Sanchez + Joe Gerbino // Seattle food photographer

April 5, 2022

Headshots, Photography

Recently I was catching up with my friend Matt, someone I’ve known since daycare days, and he mentioned to me that his brother, chef David Sanchez, was coming to town all the way from New York to cook a six-course meal for Matt and his business partners – a meal featuring and based around the elk that he had hunted.

My ears perked up immediately – chef? six courses? food you hunted? With my love for food and watching people cook (you learn so much!), I knew I had to find a way to be at this dinner.

So I invited myself.

Well, kinda.

“Hey, does David need photos of this so he can share on social media and his website? He needs to market these private dinners!”

Access: granted. 😉

Matt is one proud big brother! 🙂

I’ve actually known David since he was born – his dad was my softball coach for years! I haven’t seen David since he was a lil’ kiddo hanging out at middle school softball games, so when he greeted me at the door, my mind was trying to calculate how he could possibly be a real adult – and a fabulous chef, at that!

David introduced me to his team for the evening – Joe Gerbino, and David’s girlfriend Shelby. All three of them had flown out from New York for the weekend.

And they were amazing – answering my questions, letting me and my camera get in their way as they prepared each dish, and making sure I got to eat! (The way to my heart is through my tummy – we are now bffs, I hope.) 😉

Shelby, Joe, and David. David has worked at Trust in San Diego and Musket Room in New York. Joe is currently acting chef de cuisine at Death & Co in NYC and was previously sous chef at The Kitchen in Jackson Hole.

I read the menu and tried not to get drool on my camera. I couldn’t wait for them to get started so I could watch the culinary magic happen!

A menu with notes – I equate this to a band’s coveted set list some lucky fan gets at the end of a concert.

The team had done a lot of prep work the day before so that all of the elements for each dish just needed to be put together once everything was cooked.

Chefs David Sanchez and Joe Gerbino review the evening’s menu.
Shelby and David prepare the elk sugo + goat cheese polenta with fried rosemary.
Pork roulade was also on the menu.
The pups knew something amazing was happening!
Polenta aka heaven in a bowl.

Seriously – if I could have David remake me just one item from the entire menu, it would be this polenta. Closely followed by the hush puppies. WOW. Just wow. My eyes widened with delight at my first bite of this rich and creamy polenta.

Canapes: Elk shank hush puppies with deer ham + honey butter; pork shank terrine with horseradish crème fraiche + pickled blueberries; elk tongue pastrami on a rye crisp with caraway aioli and kraut.

Unnecessary but I’ll repeat it anyway: I wanted ALL the hush puppies. SO GOOD.

Joe tops the oysters + apple champagne mignonette with caviar.
Shelby hand tosses the kale salad featuring blood oranges, goat cheese, carrot ribbons, and hazelnuts.
Et voilà, the salad is complete!

I’m a big fan of the little details – observing how everything was prepared, stored, and labeled in advance. Not to mention, all of the colors and textures here are just lovely! Pure art, in my opinion.

The main event: elk neck “quetta” with sage and citrus; back strap steaks with bone marrow cognac butter and truffle; pork roulade with pork sausage, apple and mushroom.

The “presentation of the proteins” – as I’m officially calling it here – was stunning. Also, watching David and Joe slice the meats made me realize that I desperately need to sharpen my knives. #notetoself

Don’t forget the roasted carrots + fennel topped with carrot-top pesto.

One of my favorite insights from the evening – David shared with me how restaurants do their best to (save money and) be sustainable by using every part of their ingredients – in this case, the tops of carrots! #brilliant. I love this mindset and it makes me excited to see how I can incorporate parts of fruits or veggies that I might normally toss into the compost bin.

Smoked foamed potatoes.

Have you ever seen those pressurized whipped cream dispenser like the ones they use in coffee shops? Okay, so, imagine potatoes instead of whipped cream. Like, whaaaaat? This was such a unique taste experience – the tiny bubbles in the potatoes caused me to liken it to sparkling water. Super light and fluffy, but rich at the same time. Topped with caviar. A party in your mouth.

Olive oil cake with port wine poached pears and handcrafted cardamom ice cream.

Of course I couldn’t leave before a bite of dessert – which immediately turned into finishing the entire thing while continuing to ask questions about the menu.

Okay, so, clearly this photoshoot was as delicious as it was beautiful. But it was also really special to me because I love connecting with small-business owners, entrepreneurs, and creatives to document them doing the thing that lights them up.

This is the essence of personal branding photography.

I’m here to help people share their stories, their passions – and getting to know people better and learning from them makes my job even sweeter than olive oil cake with cardamom ice cream.

HUGE hugs and thank you to Matt, David, Joe, and Shelby for including me in this delectable evening.

To learn more about David and Joe (and perhaps book a private dinner for yourself!), you can connect with them on Instagram or at dsanchez696@gmail.com and jpgerbino21@gmail.com.

// Tara Brown is a personal branding photographer based in Edmonds, WA, serving the Greater Seattle Area and the Eastside. //