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Chef Ben Makes a Splash at Surf House

Fresh and Savory Poke Bowl

Article by Rhonda Stephens

Photography by Jessica Patterson Photography

Originally published in Frederick Lifestyle

Chef Ben Baunmann fell in love with food at a young age. He smiles as he recalls watching reruns of Iron Chef in elementary school and notes the influence it had in directing his life’s path toward creating unique and delicious recipes. Ben is young. He has a huge smile, an open demeanor and laughs easily—not always how one might envision an up-and-coming chef who’s in charge of the kitchen at a popular restaurant. 

Ben’s culinary journey has taken him from Arizona to Maryland. He studied engineering but kept being drawn back to the creative and challenging work of the kitchen. He laughs as he recounts his first foray into the kitchen as a dishwasher at a scratch Italian restaurant. While there, he jumped at the chance to make and toss pizzas when someone didn’t show for work. He found it both challenging and exciting.

Working under great chefs who encouraged him in his pursuit, he began to study on his own, reading books to learn what he didn’t know, all the while gaining experience. He's grateful and credits each of the chefs he’s worked under for their influence on him and how they each inspired him in different ways.

“I always look to use herbs and flavors in unique ways,” he adds when speaking excitedly of a new cold soup recipe he created using watermelon and cilantro. The flavors combined were unique and refreshing and will appear on the summer menu.

One of his favorite dishes to prepare is the carne asada with its layers of flavor. Ben especially enjoys exploring the freshly chopped flavors of the Southwest and how using them brings depth and richness to the meal. It’s also important to him to try to source locally.

“People want to know where their food is sourced from, and I love that this area has a great availability of organic and locally grown produce,” he says.

His desire is to continue to grow and create new and exciting dishes and perhaps have tequila tastings and small-course pairings in the future.

“I love food and feel like I got very lucky to have started working in kitchens at such an early age and to have found something that I truly love to do,” he ays. 

Poke Bowl


Ahi tuna

Sliced ginger





Secret Sauce:

8 ounces soy sauce 

4 ounces rice wine vinegar

4 ounces honey 

2 ounces sesame oil 


Combine all ingredients, whisk and transfer to a lidded container. Shake before serving.


  • secret sauce
  • mango