Jason Franey — James Beard finalist, Food & Wine Best New Chef, and the fifth ever chef at the 63 year-old Seattle icon Canlis — is leaving the restaurant on December 1. Mark and Brian Canlis, the restaurant's owners, say it was a mutual decision and that both parties recently realized it was time for Franey to move on. "He wants to take it to even a higher level, he wants to be in a place where he can get a Michelin star, he wants ownership," says Brian, "He needs to open up his own place." He has an offer with a yet-to-be-revealed entity.
Meanwhile, the Canlis brothers are launching a search for their sixth chef in over six decades in the only way they know how. "We're probably going to do it in a slightly Canlis-y unorthodox way. We're in line with Mark's video, trying to make a small dent and try to change the world a little bit in how restaurants are led," says Brian, noting that the interview process may involve laser tag, a road trip with their mother, and a certain amount of game playing. Adds Mark, "They need to be able to cook, that's a given. But we need to see who they are and that doesn't happen sitting across the table ... We want to push them until the breaking point. We want to see what they're made of. We want to see what emotional intelligence they have. It's like we're bringing on another brother or sister."
The brothers say there's no real deadline on the search and that the restaurant can "hang without a chef for a little while" with its current team. Still, they hope to find someone in the first three months of 2015. Stay tuned for news on their hire next year and the reveal on Franey's new position in the coming weeks.
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