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.

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