Go Eat: Don't let his age fool you

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By Julien Perry

Sometimes your dreams come true - sooner than you imagined.

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It happened to Eric Donnelly.

"A lot of times the first reaction is, 'You're the chef here? You look so young!' I get that one all the time."

Eric was tapped to be the executive chef at The Oceanaire Seafood Room after Kevin Davis left to open Steelhead Diner last year.

"It was a great opportunity for me. I'm only in my early thirties (32 to be exact), you know, and to be running a restaurant of this caliber."

If you've never been to The Oceanaire, it's sort of a cross between a retro steakhouse and a 1940s luxury cruise-liner.

"Yeah, when people would go out and have a Steak Oscar and, you know, old school dining. That's kind of the concept of the restaurant, but I would say, definitely my cuisine doesn't lean to that. It's more homey, comforting."

Eric was never formally trained as a chef, but he did get hands-on training from his Irish grandma.

"The only time my family would really come together was at my grandmother's house, and she would prepare meals at this big table. Seeing how that affected people, I wanted to be able to provide that experience for people, also."

After graduating from Shoreline High School, Eric landed jobs at Sazerac, Tulio and Inn at Semiahmoo.

"Sometimes people ask, like, 'haven't you been to France?' or 'haven't you studied in such-and-such or done x, y or z?' and I've been like, not so much. I've just been on this kind of path bringing my vision to life."

He's doing that by making a name for himself at The Oceanaire.

"A dish I'm doing right now is a braised sturgeon osso buco where we're taking the whole sturgeon and dressing it up like an osso buco. Being in the Northwest we have a good Asian influence here, so I'll do a lot of, like, sashimi fish or tuna tartares."

Eric is working towards opening his own restaurant someday.

"The best things happen sitting around a dinner table - you fall in love, you make business deals, you iron things out with your family or whatever, but great things happen while you're dining."

Places Eric likes to Go Eat!: Portalis, Tavolata, Senor Moose, Sambar, South Park taco trucks.

For more information:

http://theoceanaire.com/

Eric with the day's catch in Alaska:

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