Michael Hodgins has been one lucky corporate chef with a "wild" side (riding his motorcycle on weekends like a Wild Hog) and a penchant for endurance sports (probably a good idea for a food professional).
Early on as an executive sous chef, he cooked with Wolfgang Puck for the Grammy Awards and as an executive chef, he ws encouraged to work with local farms early on in the local movement (thanks to Bon Appetit's sustainability commitment) -- and it was all available to Intel employees.
More recently, Hodgins has been working with future culinarians at the Rio Salado Food Systems Program as their director, where students are learning about sustainable food systems via a hands-on garden, cooking and baking classes as well as online. He also supervises the interns at the Cafe @ Rio, which serves up local produce from their garden and local farms.
While his day job sounds pretty blissful, he adds to this fun by following and entering marathons (he recently flew to his hometown of Saratoga Springs, NY to run a ½ marathon), crusing the road on his hog with his wife Yeimmy and playing in his home kitchen with their two kids Justin (6) and Gabriela (4). On any given Sunday, we might find him roasting his own fair trade coffee bens and watchin the game NY Giants -- as well as Dback and Suns, of course.
Grab a cup and dig into Chef Michael Hodgin's perfect food day:
Breakfast: My favorite breakfast has to be when tomatoes are in season here in the Phoenix area, which is in the spring or fall. Farmer Frank at Crooked Sky Farms, Michael at Love Grows Farm and Maya at Maya's Farm all grow delicious tomatoes that I am proud to use for my breakfast or serve in the Café @ Rio. My favorite has to be when my wife Yeimmy and I can go out to our garden and pick them fresh just as the sun is coming up. The simplicity of the ingredients makes this Alice Waters inspired dish especially great. It starts with a lightly toasted piece of artisan bread that has been thickly sliced. Then a chopped tomato salad with green onions, garlic, tomato, olive oil, fresh basil and arugula tops the warm and crusty bread. The tomato salad mixture is then crowned with a lightly fried or basted egg that is cooked in olive oil. Since we love olive oil at our house, the plate is drizzled with a touch more olive oil and then topped with fresh cracked black pepper. There are a couple of months in the fall when we have tomatoes, basil and arugula growing in the garden.
Couple that with some local eggs from the farmers' market and some crusty bread................and an incredible breakfast takes shape. We roast green coffee beans for the perfect cup of coffee at our house. If that's not convenient, Mario at Matador Coffee in Phoenix has the freshest roasted beans in town.
Lunch: My perfect lunch brings me back to when we lived in the Bay Area. We had a favorite spot that Yeimmy, my (infant at the time) son Justin and I would often end up at. Let me paint a picture of the Fisherman's Wharf hunger effect. The smell of the salt water in the air combined with a temperature that often times would not exceed 50 degrees and the smell of fresh baked sourdough and seafood was enough to have me salivating.
Between Meal Snacks: If my family has a heavy lunch, we may skip a traditional dinner and eat more in the style of how one might eat, around 8 pm in Mexico. Simple tacos de pastor topped with onions, cilantro and fresh lime from the local taco shop complete a great day!
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