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Internationally-traveled chef lands at the Salish

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SNOQUALMIE - Although there can be a lot of romanticism in the decisions people make to become chefs, the choice Roy Breiman made to dedicate his career to food was simple.

"Some people have stories of how they helped their grandma in the kitchen and that is why they wanted to become a chef," said Breiman, the new executive chef for the Salish Lodge and Spa. "For me, it was an analytical decision. It has allowed me to do all the things I wanted to do."

All of those things have included supporting himself and his family while traveling and working in different parts of the world. Being creative and making a lot of people happy with outstanding cuisine at the same time have been some of the many benefits.

"It's a job where you get to use all of your senses," he said. "You are only limited by your creativity."

Breiman, a native of California, made the decision to become a chef in his early 20s. Working in restaurants while growing up, Breiman realized he wanted to stay in a profession that offered inventiveness, travel and room for advancement.

He began work in San Francisco, New York City and Newport Beach, Calif. before heading to France for additional training. It was there Breiman learned about the French approach to food, which savors everything about a meal from its presentation down to the origins of the ingredients.

"We tend to produce a lot of mainstream food," he said. "In France, it's more provincial."

The experience was so invigorating that after coming home to the United States for further training, he returned to France to work in the towns of Nice and Eze.

Upon returning to the United States, Breiman worked in Napa Valley and then in Portland, Ore. In 1999, he headed to Martha's Vineyard where he oversaw a restaurant called Opus.

When the opportunity to work at the Salish presented itself last month, Breiman said the decision was easy. The Salish has been routinely named a top resort by travel publications and was recently named one of the best resorts in Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

"The Salish has an excellent reputation," Breiman said. "I want to be with the winners."

While Breiman has been trained by the finest European chefs in some of the country's most well-known restaurants, he insisted that his menus are not entirely Continental. It was in France that Breiman learned to savor food and the craft of being a chef, but he sees his meals as a marriage of European and American cuisine. The menus at the Salish's restaurant and at the more bistro-like Attic restaurant will be based on the finest ingredients Breiman can find in the region.

"This will not be a European restaurant," Breiman said. "Our menus will be seasonally and regionally inspired."

Breiman said that while being a chef allows room for creativity, his personal style also dictates some boundaries. He has chosen to stay away from dishes that are combinations of ingredients thrown together for no reason.

"It [serving ill-conceived dishes] is cooking for effect rather than taste," he said.

With 20 years of experience, Breiman said his menus will be more like a greatest hits album. He and his staff are developing some signature dishes that he hopes will encompass all he has learned, from France to his first few weeks in Snoqualmie.

"It will be a like a kaleidoscope of the last 20 years," he said.

Ben Cape can be reached at (425) 888-2311 or by e-mail at ben.cape@valleyrecord.com.

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