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My name is: Keith Potter.

I’m known for being: Executive chef at Ventana Big Sur.

My culinary style is: Modern American, rooted in the seasons and the specific location of wherever I find myself cooking.

This spot is special because: The location, at the edge of the country, proves challenging when it comes to sourcing. The remoteness of Big Sur pushes a chef to develop really strong relationships with local farms and purveyors in order to procure the best quality ingredients at the best price, as often as possible. There’s a remarkable amount of products foraged locally, though: The huckleberries from up the coast of California and chanterelles found in secret locations all around Big Sur are incredible. Our organic garden takes some stress off of us too when it comes to sourcing, as we grow many ingredients on property. It’s also stunning to behold; the sunsets are reward enough.

The Sur House

Spa Alila

The Sur House

Sir House

The Sur House

From our organic garden and property, we source: Every flower used for garnish imaginable, red vein sorrel, serranos, jalapenos, shishitos, tomatillos, husk cherries, hakurei turnips, scarlett turnips, summer squashes, artichokes, onions, chives, many types of herbs, bok choy, radishes, beets, baby carrots and more. 

My favorite local ingredient right now is: Chanterelle mushrooms. Meaty in texture, they have a low water content and are very firm. They’re also available here at a higher quality and lower price than I ever found in Chicago.

One dish that feels specific to the area is: Easy question! Our Garden Salad. It may seem simple, but every single ingredient in that dish is from the region—from the cheese to each and every green or herb. The croutons are made in-house and the dressing is made with Brokaw avocados. Our garden salad is prepared with all of our own garden’s bounty. 

The recipe is: It’s really a simple salad. It includes Laura Chenel goat cheese, quickly pickled fennel, our Avocado Citrus Dressing, field greens and herbs and a focaccia crouton—full of shaved garden vegetables.

Your body will thank you for eating this food because: It’s light and clean in both flavor and ingredient quality. The cheese comes from local, incredible quality goat milk; the salad is packed with beneficial fiber. The dish is low carb and the dressing is dairy-free and is prepared using avocado as the fat component (which would suit a Keto diet). The use of local honey to sweeten the dressing and fresh citrus for acidity keeps the sugar content to a minimum and lends balance.

Here’s the recipe for our dressing below:


Avocado Citrus Dressing


fresh avocado

fresh orange juice plus zest

fresh lime juice plus zest

orange blossom honey

chopped cilantro

minced jalapeno

black pepper and salt

extra virgin olive oil

calamasi vinegar


  1. Place the avocado, citrus juice and zest into a blender and blend.
  2. Add in minced chili and the honey and cilantro.
  3. Blend in the olive oil and thin with water as needed.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Fold in the minced fresh herbs 

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