Orcas is an island that offers tastes from around the world, but one country is not currently represented: Japan.
Local chef Eli Baird is about to change that.
Baird and Jessi Taylor, who co-owns Lulu’s Pasta Rustica in Eastsound, are offering sushi at Odd Fellows Hall on Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. Their restaurant is called Jounetsu, which is Japanese for passion.
Baird is a trained sushi chef who worked in Colorado for five years.
“I like convincing people to try new and exciting products,” he said. “And show them things they’ve never experienced before. There is so much gratification in presenting a meal.”
Baird, who has spent summers on Orcas, moved to the island this past March. He was a chef at the New Leaf Cafe, but as the season has died down, he’s had more time on his hands.
“We’d like to do more than one day a week. It would be great to do it on a week day,” he said.
The menu will feature four main fish: salmon, ahi, eel, and hamachi. A veggie roll will also be available. Baird and Taylor will go to the mainland every Friday to pick up fresh fish. Their supplier is in Bellingham, but as they branch out with their menu offerings, they may head to Seattle for a bigger selection. Other dishes on the menu include Pad Thai, different varieties of stir fry, and pork tonkatsu.
“We want to bring more Asian fusion,” Baird said.
Taylor, who will be out on the floor and in the kitchen, had recent aspirations to attend sushi school in Los Angeles. When she met Baird, it seemed like perfect timing to learn from each other.
“This way I don’t have to go to sushi school, and I get to start a new business, which I love,” she said. “I’ve been cooking Italian for the past three years, so it will be great to do something new.”
Baird says he has been “going back and forth between nervous and excited.”
“This is my passion,” he said. “This is what I want to be doing. I don’t want to focus on other people’s menus.”