Ivan’s recipe for Crispy Skin Pan Seared Salmon below.
During the late 90s, I had the pleasure of meeting Ivan Flowers when he was the Executive Chef at A Different Point of View in Phoenix. The meal was so memorable, that when my longtime friend Brenda Hill and I decided to write our first book, Our Love Affairs with Food & Travel, I knew I wanted to include Ivan. He provided us with two delicious recipes at the time.
Since then, I have followed Ivan from Sedona and then on to California.
Now, Chef Ivan Flowers is bringing his 25 years of culinary experience to Resource Media. As a Culinary Project Manager, Chef Flowers finds talent, media trains and lends his culinary expertise to their various television productions. Prior to that, he spent two and a half years at Top of The Market. While he was Executive Chef at Top of the Market, the restaurant earned many awards, including: top 10 seafood San Diego by Gayot, Best Fine Dining Seafood Restaurant 2015 by the CRA, Best Thing I ate 2014 by San Diego Food Finds, Best Thing I ate June 2014 by San Diego Magazine and much more.
Before becoming Executive Chef at Top of The Market, Chef Flowers owned Fournos restaurant in Sedona, Arizona. Fournos received many accolades, including being named a top 25 restaurant in Arizona. He was also Executive Chef at L’Auberge de Sedona, the AAA Four-Diamond, Four Star award winning restaurant. While Executive Chef at L’Auberge de Sedona, Flowers completely re-designed the menus for the dining room, bar and catering. After this change, the customer satisfaction rating soared to 99 percent. Flowers has created extraordinary cuisine for some of the finest restaurants in Arizona, including T. Cooks at Scottsdale’s Royal Palms Resort and the Phoenician’s Mary Elaine’s and Different Pointe of View.
Flowers’ passion for cooking stems from his father, who was chef and owner of Rendezvous Restaurant in New York. He learned from his father that a good chef lets the food do the work with respect to flavor and presentation. This lesson has guided Flowers’ elaborate career, earning he and the restaurants he has led an abundance of accolades and awards. This lesson has also made Chef Flowers an accomplished and sought-out teacher to aspiring chefs from around the world. However, he also said, “I also spent many days shopping and cooking with my Grandmother Millie.”
Though his food is influenced from countries around the world, he combines a love for French and Italian cuisine with a passion for Mediterranean – what he likes to call “global fusion”. Flowers prides himself on offering a healthy yet diverse menu, featuring organic products whenever possible with vegetables and herbs. His menus change to capture the best of each season, allowing Chef Flowers to creatively blend inspiration with the finest foods available.
From 2001 to 2007, Flowers served as Executive Chef at Different Pointe of View in Phoenix, where his distinct menu earned praise from food critics around the world. Here, Flowers’ “teaching kitchen” became regarded as one of the most coveted places for up-and-coming chefs to develop their skills and discover their own style. Different Pointe of View became the finest restaurant for high-end cuisine for Hilton Hotels worldwide. Chef Flowers was bestowed the honor of one of the greatest chefs globally for the Hilton Hotel Corporation.
Prior to this role, Flowers was the lead instructor and chef of L’Ecole restaurant at the highly respected Le Cordon Blue SCI Culinary Institute in Scottsdale. As chef and instructor, Flowers was responsible for educating an ongoing class of thirty students in classical French cuisine. In addition, he handled all restaurant operations including menu development, budgeting, forecasting and catering. During his tenure, L’Ecole received its highest Zagat® rating and went onto to a four month waiting list for reservations.
Flowers’ culinary experience also includes serving as Chef de Cuisine at T. Cooks at the Royal Palms, where he contributed to the attainment of the restaurant’s fourth Mobile star and TOP 10 in Food Arts magazine. Other accomplishments was his role as Sous Chef at the Phoenician’s Mary Elaine’s, where he trained in a five-star setting with two James Beard award-wining chefs, Alessandro Stratta and George Mahaffey as well as Bradford Thompson who later in his career became a James Beard award winner.
Flowers received his A.O.S. degree in culinary arts and restaurant management from Le Cordon Bleu SCI Culinary Institute in 1997. While attending Le Cordon Bleu, he was a Sous chef at ASU’s University Club, as well as a Sous Chef at Scottsdale Center for the Arts. In addition to his culinary education, Flowers holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the New York Institute of Technology.
Naturally, we had ask Ivan some of our basic and favorite questions.
Maralyn: What was your families’ reaction to your career choice?
Chef Flowers: They loved it!
Maralyn: Which is your favorite station in the kitchen, the hotline, pastry, etc.?
Chef Flowers: Sauté, because things jump!
Maralyn: What is your favorite comfort food and is there a particular reason?
Chef Flowers: Tuna salad on a French baguette with a nice cup of coffee. I love this because it reminds me of my childhood.
Maralyn: Do you have a favorite dessert?
Chef Flowers: NY style cheesecake.
Maralyn: What is your favorite type of food to prepare?
Chef Flowers: Fish, especially whole, skin-on fish.
Maralyn: How do you personally view presentation?
Chef Flowers: I believe flavor dictates plating. That being said, if a plate is beautiful, but has no flavor, it is useless.
Maralyn: What is your favorite cooking utensil?
Chef Flowers: French fish spatula.
Maralyn: If you could provide one or two tips for prospective chefs, what would it be?
Chef Flowers: It must be in your blood and in your heart to truly succeed in this industry. Always keep in mind how delicious you want to make the dish for the people for which you are cooking.
Maralyn: Ivan, you’ve been a Corporate Executive Chef, owned your own restaurant and are back in the corporate world, can you share the differences and what they offer?
Chef Flowers: As an Executive Chef you are responsible for it all. If something goes wrong, it is your fault. Long hours and never have a holiday off! Owning your own restaurant it’s completely your show. You make all the decisions, including deciding whom you get to throw out! As for the corporate world, you still get your hands dirty, training chefs to share your passion, but at five o’clock, you get to go home.
Maralyn: Do you cook at home a lot?
Chef Flowers: Rarely. My wife does all the cooking.
Maralyn: What are the highlights of your career, your “ah ha” or “wow” moments?
Chef Flowers: Every night in a kitchen is an aha or wow moment. That is why I continue to do this…
Maralyn: When you go out, where do you go to eat?
Chef Flowers: Old style Italian restaurants with red and white checked tablecloths.
Maralyn: Do you focus on using local products?
Chef Flowers: As much as I can. But I won’t sacrifice flavor to utilize a local product.
Maralyn: How do you work with local vendors?
Chef Flowers: I worked extensively with local fisherman, farmers and ranchers.
Maralyn: Anything else you would like to share about being a chef?
Chef Flowers: It is the greatest profession in the world!
You can keep up with him at https://www.facebook.com/ChefIvanFlowers/.
Chef Ivan Flowers passion for his profession comes across in his written interview and more so when we interview him on The Savory Connoisseur. In the many years I’ve known Ivan, his love of food is evident in the presentation and flavor. He has shared his recipe for Crispy Skin Pan Seared Salmon from Top of the Market, San Diego.
Images courtesy of Ivan Flowers.