Donald Link: The Beginning

Donald, Val, AJ

A few years back we were lucky enough to befriend Donald Link through a mutual friend in the restaurant business. Donald is the chef/owner of the stellar New Orleans restaurants, Herbsaint and Cochon. A nationally recognized chef, Donald is known for his uncompromising technique, eye for quality ingredients, and delectable results. On a personal level, Donald is family oriented, extremely generous, and one of the most talented chefs we know. His food is not pretentious or overly fancy, it is just ridiculously delicious!

As a special treat for my husband’s birthday, Donald agreed to come to Santa Barbara for the weekend and cook for our family and a few friends. On his first night with us, Kim and I prepared dinner for him (stay tuned for that menu with recipes). The second evening Donald prepared an unforgettable six-course dinner for 15 in our dining room. Chris Robles selected and paired the wine with the menu Donald created. The meal can best be described as an explosion of taste and ecstasy in your mouth.

We are thankful for our friendship with someone as accomplished as Donald. I am, as always thrilled by his willingness to share his passion and talent with me…and now with you.

Ridgeback Shrimp

Strolling through the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market with Donald and Joe (Joe is the manager of, and runs the wine program for both Herbsaint and Cochon) was a delightful experience.

As we strolled by Dee at Georgita Seafood, Donald quickly snatched up some Ridgeback shrimp, which are newly in season. He was thrilled to see them at the market and was shocked at the price. You pay a pretty penny for Ridgeback shrimp elsewhere in the country. When we arrived home, Donald prepared them as a little snack, below is the recipe.

Donald was like a kid in a candy store. We left the market loaded up with bags and bags of beautiful organic Santa Barbara produce. I was so proud of our local farmer’s market when Donald remarked later that evening that if he had known all that was available here, he would not have brought as much product with him from New Orleans.

donald2

2 lbs Ridgeback shrimp

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 beer

½ cup chili peppers (your choice on the heat)

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 stick of butter, chopped

3 tablespoons chives cut in 2 inch pieces

½ lemon, juiced

2 cloves of garlic, diced

In a hot pan sear shrimp in olive oil. Toss in chili pepper and add beer. Let steam for 4-5 minutes. Remove shrimp to plate or platter. Then, add butter, salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic and chives to the hot pan. Over medium-high heat reduce by 2/3rds. Pour butter sauce over shrimp and sprinkle with sea salt. Peel and eat!

Drink recommendation: We polished off the dish with a cold Red Stripe beer.

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