I met Executive Chef Hal Decker on a drizzly day in June, which was supposed to kick off the summer with the Fremont Solstice Parade. While the weather didn’t necessarily cooperate, Chef Decker provided plenty of information to keep me writing. He was occupying the Demonstration Chef position at Sabra’s booth, and he was preparing different dishes using their traditional hummus. He demonstrated a pasta salad made with hummus, which is both creamy and indulgent and also higher in protein and using heart-healthy olive oil, unlike typical pasta salads made with mayonnaise. Hummus isn’t just for pitas anymore.
I sat down with Chef Decker a few days later to discuss Master’s Touch Kitchen. This new catering business’ chef is not new to cooking. For over thirty years, Chef Decker has worked as the chef for various locations, including hotels in Las Vegas. Chef has prepared meals for famous individuals and for dinner parties in the thousands. Now that he’s done most of the executive chef jobs in the major specialties, he has moved into catering.
He has his sights set on corporate catering events, but he books some weddings and other catering activities as well. He doesn’t restrict himself to one cuisine, and he’s eager for the challenge. “I’ve done it all,” he says, without pretension. His resume could seem intimidating, but he’s knowledgeable and completely approachable. But don’t mistake his humility as a lack of zest for seizing a large chunk of the catering world.
This summer, he is focusing on some well-known events in Seattle. After the Fremont Fair, you could find him at the Ballard Seafood Fest. He is also planning on some significant catering events, but he wouldn’t disclose the guests just yet.
Master’s Touch Kitchen stood out at the Ballard Seafood Fest. There he served Blackened Salmon Sandwiches, Oyster Po’ Boys, Blackened Salmon Salads, Shrimp Louies, and Shrimp Louies Salads. These items weren’t your average overly oily, bland foods. They popped with flavor and were prepared to order, so your food was fresh, crispy, and hot.
The blackening seasoning was incorporated into the oyster breading, which was only made of corn flour and spices, and the punch from the cayenne pepper was just right. Chef Decker also appeared to sell the only oysters at the Seafood Fest this year. They went like hotcakes. Or freshly breaded oysters, hot off the grill.
The grilled, blackened salmon was fried on an extremely hot griddle without oil, so the sweet flavor of the salmon juxtaposed the blackening seasoning, which was dark and smokey from the heat of the grill. The shrimp louie was creamy, popped with fresh celery and full of shrimp. The chewy bread was firm but tender, and it held up well the brightly seasoned roumalade sauce that was spread over the slice.
You can still meet him at the Kirkland Go Dog Go event on July 24th and contact him for your next catered event. No cuisine is too difficult, and his flexibility will allow you to design any event. Visit his website for details, great reading, and chef secrets. You can also read insights about the culinary profession at his blog, Foodilicious.