Twenty-four-year-old Katie Gallego has been named chef de cuisine of Vespolina following Jason Stratton's sudden departure from his head chef role at the downtown restaurant. Gallego takes the helm at a restaurant that has struggled to find its footing, having first opened as Spanish-themed Aragona before switching gears and shifting into Stratton's Italian wheelhouse.
Gallego has honed her skills under Stratton's tutelage at Artusi and Spinasse, where she started as prep cook in 2011. She eventually worked her way up in Stratton's restaurants and was named sous chef at Vespolina late last year. Gallego is a graduate of Seattle Culinary Academy.
"I definitely bring my Spinasse and Artusi roots with me to Vespolina," Gallego relayed via press release this afternoon. "I’m interested in showcasing classic, familiar Italian dishes and using modern techniques to prepare them. My cooking will be different than what our guests find at Spinasse and Artusi. My Sicilian grandmother was a good cook and soup was just one of the dishes that she made so well. I love how deep extraction of flavors can be developed in broths and soups to make them so satisfying. For example, you’ll probably find a rustic minestrone soup on the menu. Pasta will still be at the core of what we do, but dishes might include lasagna or cannelloni."
Vespolina has also announced that Leroy Keener will serve as Vespolina's new sous chef. Keener previously headed the kitchen at Branzino in Belltown. Stratton announced his immediate departure from Vespolina and from Capitol Hill's Artusi and Spinasse last month.