Chef Eric Tucker
Chef, Millennium Restaurant, Cook book Author, San Francisco
Eric Tucker has been creating in the kitchen since he was five years old. "Even when I was little I was cooking scrambled eggs and pancakes. When I was eight or nine I constantly had my nose in my parents' Gourmet Magazine. By the time I was in my teens I was organizing and cooking whole dinner parties, soup to nuts, for my parents." Tucker grew up with food lovers for parents, and they took him to all kinds of restaurants. By the time he began cooking, he had already been exposed to an impressive diversity of cuisine.
During his early teens, distance running and a diagnosis of hypoglycemia compelled Tucker to develop an interest in healthy cooking and nutrition. He soon came to realize the importance of diet. "I was forced to become aware of the profound effect that changing your diet has on your health," he says.
After working in various restaurants in New Jersey, including Everybody's Café in Red Bank, Tucker was able to find a culinary balance that accommodated his lifestyle. The culmination of Tucker's training in healthful cuisine was his graduation from the National Gourmet Institute for Food and Health in New York City in the fall of 1990, which allowed him to become a professional chef focusing on healthy, natural foods. While attending the school, Tucker worked with quality organic produce from the local Farmer's Market. He established contacts in the school that would bring him across the country to Milly's Restaurant in San Rafael as an intern. Within two years, Tucker's total dedication to creating innovative, natural, low-fat cuisine resulted in his being promoted to Head Chef. In 1994, Tucker was able to bring all his invaluable experience to Millennium as Executive Chef of the opening team. Since then, he has been the creative force behind the restaurant's success.
Tucker's cooking style embraces traditional concepts along with unique interpretations of ethnic cuisine. He eschews dairy products, eggs, oil, or other high-fat animal products, but his dishes have been praised for their innovative combinations and unexpectedly rich flavors. In the introduction of his cookbook, Tucker states, "Our food is a celebration - Our food is exciting because we pay as much attention to flavor, texture, and visual appeal as we do to the food's healthful qualities. Down here in the kitchen, we do what we do out of love of food and love for the creative process." His imaginative flair is evident in hallmark dishes such as Plantain Torte with tropical fruit salsa and romesco sauce, Asian Udon Cake (seared udon cake with saute of Asian vegetables, oyster mushrooms, smoked tofu, kaffir lime, Thai basil coconut curry, spicy grilled pineapple sambal, mixed sprouts), Carrot Lasagnette (carrot pasta sheets layered with Meyer lemon, spring garlic, tahini cream and roasted baby carrots, topped with pinenut gremolata, baby herbs and truffle oil) and the New Millennium Plate, with seitan medallions or marinated tempeh, crimini and shiitake mushrooms, olive oil mashed potatoes and Marsala mushroom sauce.
Tucker is passionate about the health benefits of following a vegetarian or near vegetarian diet. "My mission is to show the public that you don't have to compromise flavor and texture as you cut out harmful, high-fat animal products and oil. At Millennium we definitely dispel the stereotypes and misconceptions held by many about low-fat and vegan cuisine."
37 years old, Tucker resides in Oakland, California and when not in the kitchen at Millennium, he enjoys mountain biking and foraging for wild foods.