This post was originally published on sothebysrealty.com.
Acclaimed chef Ned Bell spent parts of his childhood on the rugged coasts of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, instilling in him a taste of the sea’s diverse delicacies—and an appreciation for its delicateness. Sourcing seafood wisely and creatively has never been more important, and is the focus of his bestselling cookbook Lure: Sustainable Seafood Recipes From the West Coast.
“Cooking on the West Coast, we’re committed to sustainability, we’re committed to ethics, we’re committed to seasonality,” says Bell. “The Pacific Ocean, from California to Alaska, really has this deep commitment to the environment.”
That concern certainly extends to California’s Rancho Santa Fe, where nearby Moonlight State Beach borders on a state-protected marine conservation zone. And just 20 minutes away is this palatial equestrian estate listed by Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty, built in the style of a Spanish manor house, where the top-of-the-line gourmet kitchen lends itself perfectly to sustainably sourced seafood dishes.
Here you’ll find a backsplash of meticulously painted tile, custom lighting with an antique finish, and the immense island with walnut butcher blocks on either end of an expanse of leathered bianco granite: perfect for gathering friends around to feast, says Chef Ned.
Start your guests off with Chef Ned’s naked oysters and a whiskey mignonette served in the 9” thick concrete wine vault, complete with an impressive view into the Sukabumi lava tiled pool.
You might follow up with Bell’s apricot halibut, perfectly roasted in the La Cornue convection oven. This top-of-the-line range not only includes the stovetop, hood, and double oven, but comes with a steamer and griddle built-in.
Gliding atop the Turkish marble flooring throughout the kitchen, you’ll also find Thermador appliances including two refrigerators and a freezer, a wine dispenser, and a clear ice maker for concocting perfect cocktails to satiate your guests. All of this is adjacent to the walk-in pantry, with its Taj Mahal slabs and custom cabinetry.
If the weather is amenable, maybe you’ll draw the party outdoors to enjoy the large recreation area, playing games of bocce ball, horseshoes, or pickleball. Here, Bell would ante up with his cedar planked salmon over the outdoor grill, gathering for stories around the fire pit and lounge area.
Aside from the classics like halibut and salmon, what else is inspiring Bell in the world of sustainable, West Coast seafood? Kelp is one of his favorite ingredients, along with other types of marine algae. “There are ten thousand edible plants in the ocean,” he explains, “—be a little bit more adventurous.”
Bell champions a principle he calls 52 and 12: “I want you to eat sustainable seafood 52 weeks of the year, at least once a week. And once a month, I want you to try something from the ocean you’ve never had before.”
That spirit of adventurousness applies to cooking as much as it does to sampling, and with a full outdoor kitchen—complete with a pizza oven and al fresco dining area—this home grants everything a gourmet chef needs to test new ingredients and techniques. Bell notes that he’s a fan of a well-equipped kitchen with state-of-the-art gadgets on-hand, but everyday cooking should be fundamentally simple—and above all, pleasurable.
“I encourage people to carve out time at least once a week to be in the kitchen, pour a glass of wine, listen to your favorite playlist or podcast, and just cook something,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what you’re making. It just matters that you’re in there trying something slightly different. Food doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the best recipes never are.”
(Download recipes here)
Ned Bell’s culinary training started as a teenager, cooking dinner for his siblings while his real estate agent parents were closing deals late into the evenings. He graduated from Dubrulle French Culinary School in 1994, and went on to become the Culinary Director of The Vancouver Club, Executive Chef at YEW seafood + bar, and most recently as Ocean Wise Chef Ambassador. Ned founded Chefs for Oceans in 2014 to raise awareness and advocate for responsible seafood choices and the importance of supporting healthy oceans, lakes and rivers. He is currently the owner and chef at the Naramata Inn.