Before he was the Camo Gourmet, Tommy LeVasseur was a talented professional ballplayer. Drafted in 1983 as a shortstop by the San Diego Padres, he played for 6 years plus a 3 year detour to Parma, Italy. He played with stars like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Grace and managed such notables as Jason Veritek, Derek Lowe and David Ortiz, aka the Big Popi. As a professional athlete and understanding the importance of playing at a consistently high level, Tommy’s obsession with high performance nutrition blended with an appreciation for and pursuit of unique and delicious regional preparation styles. Whether it was ribs in St. Louis, Tex Mex in Austin, or Parmigiana in Parma, style was everything but nutrition was the ultimate goal. The shortstop learned to cook up more than a double play.
It was in Parma, Italy where he began to perfect his culinary skills. Living above a local restaurant, he learned that the keys to a good meal were family, a good recipe, and fresh, wholesome, locally grown, organic ingredients. No pesticides or inorganic fertilizers, no hormones or antibiotics. Regional and seasonal were key… and a good glass of wine!
Back in the US, he joined the Seattle Mariners, pursuing every opportunity he could to hunt and fish between games. Whether after chukar in Idaho, salmon fishing in Washington, or elk in Colorado, his passion for all things outdoors extended further to healthy, nutritional dishes of wild game and fish proteins prepared with a regional flair. He learned that each area had its own style of preparing local fish or game. Regional and seasonal ingredients were still the keys… and good glass of wine!
From this philosophy came “Tommy Ray’s”, a popular restaurant in Studio City, CA. His menu featured seasonal wild game proteins, fruits and vegetables all prepared in a healthy and creative manner, paired with a good wine from their extensive regional wine list. His clientele was a steady mix of Hollywood, little league parents, famous movie and TV actors, PTA members and Grammy winning musicians. It was a family restaurant with an edge.
"It was in LA that Tommy gained considerable notoriety as a professional guide and hunter who could also deliver as a celebrity chef preparing his specialty gourmet dishes of fish and game for his guests in the field." In essence, the Camo Gourmet was born. Whether it was elk steaks from Colorado, wild boar sausage from central California, or salmon from Washington it was going to be prepared with organic ingredients with a healthy, fresh, regional flair… and a good glass of wine!
The Camo Gourmet now resides in Leander, TX, where he and his wife, Danitza, have a new endeavor called the “Silver Spoon Restaurant”. Down there, comfort food is the regional favorite. Their new approach of fresh, healthy local ingredients added to old favorite southern dishes has been a hit, and his monthly Camo Gourmet game feasts are sold out weeks in advance.