Chef Joshua Parliament is cooking with fire

Chef Joshua Parliament of the Wild Goose has a passion for cooking and he wants his passion to be your passion.

"I'm caring, outgoing. Especially when it comes to cooking, where I'm especially passionate," said Parliament. "I love it. It can be thankless, and doesn't pay great, but I find it rewarding. Especially when regulars come back and chat."

Buoyant and puckish, Parliament is a likable, easy-going guy who doesn't take much seriously. Except his art. With nearly 20 years of experience in the food industry, Parliament is a rising star in Southern Oregon cuisine.

"My favorite thing about this is that good food and good wine bring people together," said Parliament. "I think a lot of people don't realize the extreme amount of energy it takes, getting the food from the pantry to the table. A lot of love goes into that."

Parliament started in the food industry at 13, working as a dish washer in Northern California. 15 he was a line cook at Gianinni's, where he worked for two years.

"I learned a lot from (chef and owner) Al Gianinni," he said. "It was his passion for food that got me excited for food. He took a lot from his northern Italian province."

Following that, Parliament moved to the Rogue Valley, where he worked a number of other line cook gigs.

"During that time, I was a young family guy working to make ends meet. I forgot, for awhile, what drew me to cooking," he said. "After a few restaurant attempts, I gave up for awhile and joined the Army (National Guard), as a cook, of course."

Parliament's craft grew in mixed ways during his six years in the service.

"Going through the Army training program for cooking was difficult, because I really didn't learn any new culinary skills," said Parliament. "But the thing I miss most about the military was the immediate gratitude from the guys who were cold and hungry from the field. I made an effort to not just shove chili-mac at them. For example, I once hand rolled 150 chicken cordon bleu for the troops. I definitely miss the comrade, I made some lifelong friends."

For awhile, Parliament got into the lucrative realm of sales, but ultimately felt something was missing.

"I started to miss the food industry a lot," said Parliament. "Though I was making a lot more money, I was very unhappy. In March of 2006, I quit. I started working for (former employers) Rene and Dal Carver, who own the Wild Goose and the Avalon. I quit the sales, the benefits and gave the industry another shot."

Starting part time, Parliament worked his way up to becoming the Wild Goose's full time sous chef. He now manages the kitchen, orders, creates the daily specials, helps over haul the menu biannually, deals with purveyors, employee scheduling and has a great deal of artistic control in the kitchen.

"I try to approach all these issues in not asking people to do anything I wouldn't. I know a kitchen," said Parliament. "I'm not too proud to say I've been in the dish-pit. I know the line. We're a team, and working for two such warm-hearted people who care so much about their staff &

other business/restaurant owners can learn from the family they've created.

"I love this job. I can be creative, add to the menu, experiment. Creating the specials is the highlight of my day. Coming up with something unique, pushing the boundaries of conventional cooking and creating something people enjoy is great," said Parliament. "This is a great stepping stone for me, and I can't think of a greater place to do it. When my kids are older, I'd like to move to a big city and apprentice under a top chef, to expound on my skills. Then I'd like to come back and open a restaurant of my own. A northwest regional cusine, utilizing all that's bountiful in the Northwest."

Parliament is the father of three daughters, Madison, 13, MeeLa, 11, and Morissa, 9.

"They're my biggest fans. They love to get in the kitchen and help me. Especially MeeLa. She has an exceptional palette and knows more about kitchen prep than most adults," said Parliament. "She has a real talent for it."

Parliament is also a hobbyist. A dog breeder, author and former cage-fighter, Parliament keeps busy.

"You know, the fighting takes a lot of guff," said Parliament. "I got out because I realized that I'm not getting any younger. But I did all right. I have a lot of respect for the sport; and with many of these athletes, it's not about the violence, it's about the competition."

Presently, Parliament is working on a book.

"It's about the ingredients for life. About lessons learned in the industry and having a love for food. Those lessons can be applied to life, like any great passion."

Worldly, unique and a zealous parent, Parliament hopes to impart the merits of a unique and hard-worked life, and the metaphor for success he found in the freedom of crafting creative cuisine.

In the end, hospitality and experimentation are the philosophies Parliament seeks to get across. He doesn't care if he's cooking for a house party, 500 infantrymen or a critic at the Ritz.

"I love the food," said Parliament. "And bringing people together. I'd also like people to know that it makes all the difference when someone says 'hi' or 'thanks' to the kitchen staff."

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