Favorite Things: New Heights’ Ron Tanaka

The chef shares his favorite drinks, dream trip, takeout of choice, and other must-haves.

Photograph by Scott Suchman.

You might not know Ron Tanaka’s name–he tends to stay out of the spotlight–but he has cooked at such high-profile restaurants as Palena and CityZen. After almost four years at Cork, he now mans the stoves at New Heights. He took a break from testing a pickled-boar recipe to tell us about his favorite drinks, dream trip, and takeout of choice.

Always on the bar: Nolet’s gin.

Special-occasion drink: White burgundy from Etienne Sauzet.

Post-work bar: Bar Pilar on DC’s 14th Street.

Liquor store: Barrel House Liquors in DC’s Logan Circle.

Energy source: Vitamin Water Focus.

Breakfast: Steak and eggs.

Lunch spot: Chix, near DC’s U Street. “It’s very serene.”

Lazy carryout spot: Thaiphoon in Dupont Circle.

Sandwich: Corned beef on rye from Deli City in Northeast DC.

Healthy snack: Banana.

Unhealthy snack: Rye with a couple of ice cubes.

Chocolate: Valrhona white chocolate. “All the pastry people are going to go, ‘That’s not chocolate–what a wimp!’ “

Grocery-store cookie: Pepperidge Farm Brussels.

Farmers market: 14th and U Market, Northwest DC.

Dessert: “My mom’s strawberry shortcake.”

Ice-cream flavor: Pistachio or peach.

Kitchen aroma: Basil or a braise with star anise.

Always in the home fridge: “Something that should have been thrown out weeks ago.”

Always in the pantry: “Dust and paper plates.”

Condiments: Sriracha sauce and fermented bean paste.

Cut of meat: Veal shank.

Fish: Sablefish.

Vegetable: Asparagus fresh from the garden.

Knife: Ten-inch Kikuichi slicer.

Appliance: Robot Coupe blender.

Cookbooks: The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dorenburg and French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David.

Mentors: Eric Ziebold, Michel Richard, Frank Ruta, and Susan McCreight Lindeborg.

Most influential chefs: Auguste Escoffier, Madeleine Kamman, Fredy Girardet, and Fernand Point.

Dream trip: Antarctica.

Food city: San Francisco.

Cooking clothes: Shorts and a bowling shirt.

Kitchen shoes: Mephisto clogs.

Cooking music: “Sports talk radio for a bit, then we’ll put on Pandora shuffle and have Johnny Cash next to Max Romeo.”

This article appears in the April 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.