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New Bistro chef to take menu in ‘downtown’ dining direction

Northwest Guardian

Published: 02:13PM November 7th, 2013
New Bistro chef to take menu in ‘downtown’ dining direction

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

New chef Randy Mulder works alongside cook Erica Lab during a recent lunch rush at The Bistro on JBLM Lewis North. A new menu will soon follow.

Randy Mulder creates works of art in the kitchen.

Dressed in his uniform and baseball cap, the chef blends ingredients and crafts picture-perfect culinary dishes.

For the last three months the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts graduate has shared his culinary craft and experience as manager and chef of The Bistro at Russell Landing on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

While working as sous chef at a resort and conference center in Arizona, Roger Disbrow, chief of Business Operations at JBLM, contacted him.

“I needed someone who knew the back of the house that could take The Bistro to the next level of my expectations,” Disbrow said. “I’m looking to turn this into something like if you go off JBLM to downtown, I want it to be the same kind of experience.”

Mulder applied for the position at The Bistro and after a visit to the facility located on American Lake, thought it was something he’d like to do. It was an added bonus his brother, Capt. Richard Mulder with 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, is stationed at JBLM.

“The biggest thing I wanted to do was make an instant impact that was noticeable so people notice a change is happening,” Randy Mulder said.

The 24-year-old chef went right to work and created a new menu with Disbrow. The restaurant now offers a new limited menu with a full menu set to debut this winter. The Bistro will continue to offer traditional pasta dishes but will transition to more of a “roadhouse style” with burgers and sandwiches geared toward the popular lunch crowd, including the Reuben sandwich — 1/2 pound of corned beef stacked high on a pretzel roll.

“I’m calling that one my baby,” he said. “Every time I make that I want it to look the exact same.”

Mulder has already established an impressive resume in his short career, which affirms he chose the right career path.

While a freshman studying pre-med at the University of Arizona, Mulder was cooking for his roommates and friends out of his dorm’s tiny kitchen when he realized he no longer had a passion for medicine.

He finished his freshman year and two months later started culinary school in Scottsdale, Ariz.

It was three months before Mulder saw a kitchen at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, where he first had to study such things as the history of food, sanitation practices and herbs. Eventually he started out on vegetables and moved through the basics of French cuisine.

Upon completion of the accelerated program, Mulder completed an externship at a resort where he was hired on full time as a cook and was quickly promoted twice. “I started to develop after my externship,” Mulder said. “You got to stretch your creativity.”

Mulder moved on and returned to his hometown of Prescott where he was sous chef and helped establish a new restaurant at a golf course club house. It was there he gained experience of creating a new culinary team and building a kitchen from the ground up.

Mulder was working as interim executive chef at a resort in Prescott when he accepted the position at The Bistro.

In the past three months Mulder has worked with Disbrow about the vision for The Bistro. Mulder switched his staff’s uniform from polo shirts to black collared shirts with silver ties, to create more of a bistro atmosphere. Mulder has also helped develop a new buffet menu for anyone interested in booking a private party at the restaurant.

“Since Randy has been here I’m very impressed,” Disbrow said. “He’s taken it to the next level.”

When Mulder isn’t in The Bistro kitchen, he’s cooking meals for his brother and sister-in-law who now live just a short drive away.

The Bistro is open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, and 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday. The restaurant is closed Sundays.