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Beekeeping Fairmont Chef Leaves Hotel After Nearly 20 Years

Chef Gavin Stephenson will work at a new luxury hotel downtown

A dish from chef Gavin Stephenson that uses the hotel's rooftop honey.
A dish from chef Gavin Stephenson that uses the hotel's rooftop honey.
Courtesy of Fairmont Olympic

Chef Gavin Stephenson has left his post at the elegant Fairmont Olympic Hotel downtown, Eater has learned. For 18 years, Stephenson had overseen the hotel's kitchens, including those of the vaunted Georgian restaurant, the more casual, seafood-focused Shuckers, and The Terrace, a lounge just off the lobby.

Stephenson will serve in a new role at the forthcoming SLS Hotel, a luxury property constructing a 43-story tower at Fifth and Columbia slated to open in summer 2017. Details are thin, but the hotel's website promises "nearly 13,000 square feet of food and beverage offerings."

Stephenson was hired at the Fairmont Olympic in November 1998, when the hotel was run by the Four Seasons; he was known for his exceptional, high-end cuisine. But the Fairmont Olympic seemed to struggle to keep fine dining alive in a city that increasingly turns way from white tablecloths; the hotel nixed dinner at The Georgian just after New Year's Eve last year, ending a 30-year tradition.

Stephenson also made a name for himself keeping bees on the roof of the Fairmont, a project he started in 2009. The honey his urban hives produce is used in the hotel's kitchens, is gifted to overnight hotel guests, and makes appearances in specialty beer brewed by Pike Brewing, as well as a cider made by Seattle Cider Company.

The Fairmont has not yet hired a new chef to replace Stephenson, telling Eater they'll step up efforts to replace him in the new year. Meanwhile, his bees are well cared for by executive sous chef Paul Shewchuck, who oversaw the apiary at his previous hotel post. Stephenson also trained a squad of hotel employees to help with the bees, so the apiary should continue to thrive.

Georgian Room

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