Three years ago, Taylor Cole was a teenage dishwasher at a bistro on the west side of the state. Young and passionate, he caught the eye of the bistro’s chef, who moved him up the ranks of the kitchen and helped develop his natural cooking skills.

“I was looking for what I wanted to do at the time, and I was just naturally good at it,” Cole says. Today the 22-year-old is the dinner chef at Ellensburg’s Yellow Church Cafe and the featured chef for December’s episode of KYVE’s “Valley Fresh Fare.”

Cole has no formal training as a chef — though he says he’d love to study abroad someday to learn a different style — instead, he has a lifelong love of cooking and a natural talent. He grew up cooking for family and friends, who encouraged him in his future career.

“That’s kind of what gave me a positive influence to go more into it,” he says.

He calls the Yellow Church Cafe’s cooking style “modernized American,” but “it’s really a gray area ... we have a little of everything.”

The restaurant serves breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, and lunch and dinner everyday. A former church building, it seats about 60 people and the dinner menu includes blackened ahi tuna, Thai curry chicken, steaks and pastas. For lunch, diners can choose from sandwiches, soups, burgers and quiche.

Owners Gordon and Kathy Woolen also own Ellensburg WineWorks, a wine bar and bottle shop.

Cole credits his success so far to his passion for cooking, patience and creativity — characteristics he encourages home cooks to develop.

“If you’re doing something that takes a while, it’s worth it to get an end quality product. Don’t try to rush it or cut corners,” he says. “Seeing out the full process brings a better quality product in the end.”

The Yellow Church Cafe episode of “Valley Fresh Fare” will air at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7. The restaurant at 111 S. Pearl St. in Ellensburg is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The kitchen is closed daily from 4 to 5 p.m. For information, go to or call 509-933-2233.

Chef’s note: When making all these products into a great dinner for you and your loved ones, remember, cooking is not constrained by the recipe. It should always be done with love and your own artistic approach, with a side of fun!

Dungeness Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

1/2 pound Dungeness crabmeat

1/4 cup aioli sauce

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 cup green onions, chopped

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

½ lemon, juiced

12 white mushrooms caps

1 teaspoon balsamic reduction

Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the crabmeat, aioli, green onions and Parmesan in a medium sized mixing bowl. Season mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.

Remove stem of mushrooms. Stuff the mushroom caps with the Dungeness mixture using a 1 ounce ice cream scoop or your hand. Transfer onto a sheet pan.

Lightly oil with olive oil, then place sheet pan into the oven and bake for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees, until the filling is hot and cheese is melted.

Plate and garnish with a drizzle of balsamic reduction, Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Serves 4.

Cranberry Cedar Planked Alaskan Salmon

1, 7- to 10-ounce Alaskan salmon filet, per person

4x8-inch cedar wood plank, untreated

Cranberry relish

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup diced sweet onion

3/4 teaspoon 5 Spice

2 cups red wine (Cook’s choice)

1 cup sugar

Garlic, Chive, Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes

3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes

1/2 pound cream cheese (room temperature)

1/4 cup butter (room temperature)

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 bunch thinly sliced chives

3 tablespoons minced garlic

Place cedar plank into a sink and submerge under water for 20-60 minutes, usually done quite some time before cooking. While the plank is soaking, get your prep done.

Boil a large pot of water with kosher sea salt. Once at a roaring boil, place potatoes into it and cover.

Pour red wine into a medium saute pan with sugar over medium heat to create a reduction.

Once the mixture is nice and thick, add diced sweet opinion, 5 Spice and cranberries. Continue cooking until sweet onions are translucent take on a vibrant red color.

Remove plank from water and drizzle with a dime-sized amount olive oil. Place salmon on plank and drizzle on more olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes at 400 degrees. When potatoes are fork-tender, drain water and place into a large mixing bowl.

Use a hard whisk or potato masher to mash potatoes. Add room-temperature cream cheese and butter and continue mashing. Add minced garlic (to taste) and cream until you reach the desired consistency. Add chives and sea salt to taste.

Serve salmon with cranberry relish on top, potatoes and steamed asparagus or other fresh vegetable.

• Savannah Tranchell can be reached at 509-577-7752 or