By Lea Hurt
Chef Sonny Tena of Blackwall Hitch has a passion for food that started at a young age. His father was a pastry chef and he frequently watched his mother and grandmother cook meals at home. While his first attempt at a family meal was a bit charred, he fell in love with the culinary process and knew the kitchen was where he wanted to be.
Tena’s motto is that everyone starts from scratch and everyone has something to learn. Although he leads the Blackwall Hitch kitchen, he is known for appreciating and adapting the experiences of others as he mentors the next generation of chefs.
Tena began his career on the high seas as a dishwasher on an international cruise line. He worked his way up to a full-time kitchen position, learning from a highly skilled, international kitchen staff and studying the cooking styles and flavors of a wide range of cuisines. Tena went on to work in Washington D.C., where he developed a deep appreciation for Japanese and American cuisine.
Tena prides himself on being a problem solver and purveyor of unconventional techniques, often blending flavor profiles to give guests a unique taste in an otherwise traditional offering. Tena employs his passion for food to connect and open a culinary conversation with diners at Blackwall Hitch in Alexandria.
Check out Chef Tena’s recipe for salmon kale salad below.
Lea Hurt is a writer and consultant in Annapolis, Maryland.
4-5 oz salmon filet
1 tbsp basil oil
1½ cups kale, finely shredded
¼ cup mango, cut into ½ inch dice
¼ cup roasted beets, cut into ½ inch dice
2-3 tbsp lemon poppyseed vinaigrette
2 tbsp candied walnuts
1. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and grill or pan sear for 2-3 minutes. Flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the salmon is just cooked through.
2. In a mixing bowl combine the kale, mango, beets, candied walnuts and the vinaigrette. Toss well and place on a plate.
3. Place the cooked salmon on the plate. Drizzle the basil oil on top of the salmon and around the plate and serve.