Chef Eric Truglas- An Old Tradition and a New Chef
The newest chef in Mussel Fest 2019 is, oddly enough, also going to have to defend his restaurant’s number two finish at last year’s festival. What will make things more difficult for chef Eric Truglas of the Captain Whidbey, is that he’ll do so without using the hotel’s kitchen.
You see, Truglas and the owners of the Captain Whidbey have generously agreed to participate in Musselfest 2019 even though he’s new and the hotel’s kitchen is being closed and undergoing a major renovation. If fact, the entire 100+ year-old lodge is getting a gentle facelift. The new owners, and the hotel’s management company, The Q Hotel Group, closed the hotel on January 1st and hope to have everything ready for guests in the spring, after Mussel Fest.
“It’s going to be a neat place to be,” says Truglas of the hotel. In addition to full menus all day, he hopes to offer things like cooking classes, wine tastings and even picnic baskets.
The owners bought the hotel in 2018 and are committed to keeping the hotel’s pioneer charm.
As Truglas explains, the remodeling effort is all about, “making sure all the historic aspect (of the hotel) is being kept intact.”
So, Musselfest with be the first chance people will have to see what Truglas will bring to the table.
But, Truglas is no rookie in the kitchen. Born in Paris, he was, of course, trained as a French chef. He’s opened and sold several restaurants, both in Florida and in the Northwest. His most recent effort, Bellingham’s “EAT” restaurant is a farm to table Northwest bistro concentrating on the food found in Whatcom County. EAT are Eric’s initials, by the way.
When asked how he likes to use Penn Cove Mussels, he says, “there’s so many different ways to use them.” One favorite, he says, is the classic “bread and a nice broth.” He then rattled off a number of possibilities, including chorizo and beer, white wine and Dijon mustard or cioppino style with garlic and basil. Or, he adds, maybe presenting it “escargot style” with plenty of garlic butter, and maybe baked on the half shell.
Truglas comes to Whidbey Island after living in big cities such as Paris, New York, San Francisco, and Miami, so he finds life on the island very, “quiet, peaceful, and serine.”
As kitchen construction proceeds, Turglas is busy doing research, building partnerships with the region’s farmers and fishermen, and creating menus. When the inn reopens later this spring, Turglas hopes he’ll be able to, “knock the socks off people who come to eat.”
We’ll all get a sneak-preview of that at Musselfest. You might want to bring extra socks.