December 20, 2018
GEORGETOWN — Chef Joe Bayley takes over the kitchen at grill-centric restaurant Ciudad, replacing Aaron Willis, who departed last month. This spring, Bayley ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to expand his Filipino tapas pop-up, La Colonial, into a full-fledged restaurant, so it’s unclear what will happen to that plan, and Bayley hasn’t responded to a request for clarification. But he’s bringing Spanish influences to sibling Bar Ciudad’s globe-trotting menu in the form of tapas and pintxos like bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with Valdeón cheese and Marcona almonds and baguette slices with toppings like oil-cured tuna or pickled peppers and salumi spread. Other than those minor changes, Bayley says he’ll stick with the successful menu of grilled meats and vegetables served with various sauces and flatbread at Ciudad.
December 17, 2018
PIONEER SQUARE — Nirmal’s, a top-notch Indian restaurant and 2016 Eater Award winner for Restaurant of the Year, has lost its namesake chef, Nirmal Monteiro. In his place, the restaurant has hired Ashish Bagul, who owner Oliver Bangera calls one of India’s best chefs. Bagul cooked in five-star hotels in India before moving to Seattle to head the kitchen at Nirmal’s, where he’ll continue to highlight India’s many diverse cuisines. Bangera plans to host special menu nights to showcase dishes from specific regions.
November 21, 2018
GEORGETOWN — Chef Aaron Willis has left Ciudad, the Georgetown restaurant he’s led to great effect the last two years. He posted the news on his Instagram account, saying, “It’s time for me to move on and explore a new path.” Neither Willis nor Ciudad responded to Eater’s requests for comment by press time. Willis took over for opening chef Nick Coffey, continuing the restaurant’s grill-centric, globe-trotting menu and earning a place on the Eater 38.
October 29, 2018
SODO — Syd Suntha is selling his share of Bread and Circuses, which includes one of Seattle’s essential food trucks and a physical location inside the Woods tasting room at Two Beers Brewing and Seattle Cider, to co-owner James Barrington (Hallava Falafel). Chef Rob Killam remains in charge of the kitchen. Suntha had no comment other than to say he’s focused on getting Ballyhoo Hot Sauce, his other company, into more retail stores and restaurants. Barrington said he’s stoked for Suntha to take on Ballyhoo full-time and wishes him the best of luck.
SOUTH LAKE UNION — By the end of this month, executive chef Jon Langley is leaving Dexter Brewhouse to become food and beverage manager at the Sound Hotel, slated to open in 2019 in Belltown. A rep for Dexter said the company, which also opened Magnuson Cafe and Brewery in Sand Point this summer with Langley’s leadership in the kitchen, wishes Langley well but is not currently searching for a replacement since the menus he created are easy to execute and the kitchen staff he hired are strong enough to handle menu developments on their own.
September 20, 2018
CAPITOL HILL — Changes are afoot at ultra-popular Westman’s Bagel and Coffee: Owner Monica Dimas confirms the walk-up’s namesake, baker Molly Westman, is no longer part of the company the duo started together. Eater has been unable to reach Westman for comment on the startling development.
DOWNTOWN — Daniel Cox is the new executive chef at Frolik Kitchen and Cocktails in the Motif hotel. He moves from Josh Henderson’s upscale sports bar, Quality Athletics, in Pioneer Square. Cox will oversee the hotel’s entire dining program, including room service, banquets, and catering, and says he hopes to kick things up a notch at Frolik. The restaurant has served a solid menu of late but is known primarily for its expansive patio; under Cox, it may become known for its food as well.
September 17, 2018
KIRKLAND — Martha De Leon, who earned a 2018 James Beard Rising Star Chef semifinalist nomination for her work at Houston’s Pax Americana, is moving up in Cafe Juanita’s kitchen. The Kirkland restaurant, itself a James Beard-recognized fine dining institution, promoted De Leon to sous chef from chef de partie. Soon after she received her nomination, De Leon departed Houston to move to Seattle, where her husband is from.
August 20, 2018
BALLARD — Eric Rivera’s freewheeling pop-up space/restaurant/incubator project Addo has a new head chef for its Ballard location. Dave Valencia most recently oversaw the kitchen at fellow Ballard restaurant Brimmer and Heeltap, and he now runs an Addo incubator called Dis (with Mexican-meets-Pacific Northwest food) on Sunday and Monday nights. Rivera and Valencia create the venue’s other menus together. Meanwhile, Brimmer and Heeltap promoted Angela Ortez-Davis to Executive Chef. She’s overseen the brunch menu at the restaurant since last spring; before that, Ortiz-Davis worked at Circadia and Mamnoon.
July 26, 2018
CAPITOL HILL — With recent recognition as one of the West’s best cocktail bars, rum-focused Rumba is looking to do more with its food. While the bar’s menu used to be overseen by the kitchen next door at Tango, Rumba has hired its first dedicated chef in Jet Lutge, whose resume includes Bottlehouse and Latona Pub. Lutge plans to incorporate more local, seasonal ingredients and broaden menu horizons in general by drawing inspiration from around the Caribbean. The current empanadas and tacos aren’t going anywhere, but Lutge will change up the ingredients with newcomers like poblano chilies, beef, and steak with rose harissa. And eventually he may even make those corn tortillas from scratch.
May 29, 2018
BELLTOWN — Esteemed chef Charles Walpole, who heads the kitchen at recently resurrected Babirusa, is stepping down due to health issues. Walpole didn’t give many details, but did say that Ryan Miller, Babirusa’s sous chef, will take over after May 31. Miller has worked with Walpole for several years, and it appears the plan was always to have him take over as Walpole’s successor. In fact, he’s already responsible for much of the menu, and no big changes are expected.
May 4, 2018
CAPITOL HILL — As former Lark chef de cuisine Mitch Mayers works on one of this summer’s most anticipated openings — his yet-unnamed restaurant in the former Kickin’ Boot space in Ballard — Lark owner John Sundstrom has declined to deputize a direct replacement, instead promoting Kelsey Carter to sous chef. Since she arrived in Seattle in 2015, Carter has worked under chef Brendan McGill at Hitchcock and then Perfecte Rocher at Tarsan i Jane; she joined Lark in 2017. Carter has a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts and Food Service Management from Johnson and Wales University in Florida, and interned at the Michelin-starred Burgrestaurant Staufeneck in Germany. She brings a passion for close farmer-chef relationships.
April 27, 2018
DENNY TRIANGLE — Chantel Gillis, who spent six years at Terra Plata, has been promoted to executive chef at Mamnoon sibling Anar, where she’s been working since October 2017. She’s behind the vegetarian cafe’s new spring menu, which adds breakfast items like avocado toast on Seawolf Bakers bread with dried tomatoes, za’atar lemon vinaigrette, and labneh made on-site. There’s also a new juice happy hour Monday to Friday 8 to 11 a.m., when diners get a dollar off Jaipur chai and fresh-pressed juices, like Yellow No. 5 with pineapple, yellow bell pepper, lemon, and rosewater.
BALLARD — Chef Amy Beaumier’s last day in the kitchen at upscale neighborhood restaurant Joli, which she helped open about six months ago, is Saturday, April 28. “This seems like the strangest time to announce that I’m moving on from the role of working chef at Joli,” chef Amy Beaumier posted to Instagram today, alongside a screenshot and quote from this week’s largely positive Seattle Met review praising “Beaumier’s prodigious work ethic [that drives] Joli’s most successful dishes.” In response to Eater’s query about what comes next for her and the restaurant, Beaumier clarified that she remains co-owner of Joli, but wouldn’t yet give further details.
SOUTHCENTER — Poke Wai chef and co-owner Jeriel Calamayan has left the business. “After much contemplation, I have decided to focus my attention on my family’s needs at home,” he wrote on Instagram, noting that he is no longer part of Poke Wai LLC and wishing the company “nothing but the best.” At time of publication, Calamayan had not responded to a request for further details.
April 24, 2018
DOWNTOWN — For the first time since Matt Janke sold Matt’s in the Market to Dan Bugge a decade ago, the iconic Pike Place Market restaurant has a Matt in the kitchen. Chef Matt Fortner joined the restaurant about a week ago. His resume includes time at How to Cook a Wolf and at Tom Douglas restaurants. Fortner plans to make his mark with the upcoming summer menu.
April 17, 2018
DOWNTOWN — Loews Hotel 1000’s All Water Seafood and Oyster Bar has brought on a new executive chef, Benjamin Closson. He most recently worked at The Heathman Hotel, and was previously the executive chef at Nordstrom’s flagship location downtown. Closson was also the first chef de cuisine at Terra Plata.
HILLMAN CITY — Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max has hired Scott Lutey, formerly executive chef at downtown Hawaiian restaurant Sansei and also named Best Poke Chef at The Seattle Poke Contest 2016. In addition to adding a new ramen menu and weekly rotating pokes, Lutey’s contribution to the menu includes “The Billionaire’s Musubi,” a luxe take on the humble Hawaiian snack of rice, spam, and seaweed. Depending on market prices, his version may command $250 for Japanese A5 wagyu beef, Oregon black truffles, Alaskan king crab, Ostera caviar, tobiko (flying fish roe), sushi rice, nori, and a 14-karat gold wrap for good measure.
DOWNTOWN — Frolik, the rooftop bar and restaurant attached to the Motif hotel, has announced a new culinary team that includes executive chef Laura Simpson-Eng, food and beverage director Max Messmer, and bar manager Chris Blakeslee. The team has revamped all of Frolik’s menus as of earlier this month, releasing new items for happy hour, breakfast, dinner, and cocktails. Speaking of items that are too rich for most people’s blood, there’s a new Millionaires Menu featuring five absurdly expensive cocktails, including a $200 martini (claiming to be the “Best Martini Ever”— at that price, it had better be), and a $128 Mogul’s Margarita.
March 12, 2018
CENTRAL DISTRICT — Erika White has joined the ownership team at Fat’s Chicken and Waffles. White has been with the Southern soul food restaurant since it opened in 2015, moving up to general manager prior to her latest promotion. “Not only has she earned it, and is more than deserving of it, but she has been the face of the business since day one,” said co-owner Marcus Lalario in a release. The restaurant has also expanded its menu with dishes like a honey-butter chicken biscuit sandwich and a seafood sampler with shaved catfish, oysters, shrimp, and a choice of salad or fries.
SEATTLE — Local sandwich chain Homegrown has hired chef Michaela Skloven, of acclaimed New York City restaurants Per Se, Gramercy Tavern, and Franny’s, to revamp the fast-casual, sustainable menu. Skloven has made the bread thinner and crispier for existing and new sandwiches like za’atar smashed chickpea, as well as added an assortment of warm amaranth-and-quinoa grain bowls featuring braised greens and avocado or chermoula roasted veggie with Moroccan roasted carrots, black lentils, and lemon chermoula dressing.
SEA-TAC — Adam Stevenson has replaced Mark Bodinet as head chef of Cedarbrook Lodge, the boutique hotel in Sea-Tac. He’ll oversee the menu at the lodge’s farm-to-table restaurant Copperleaf, adding new menu items and expanding the chef’s garden on the hotel grounds. Stevenson was most recently the executive chef at Motif Hotel and the Pro Sports Club in Bellevue.
SOUTH LAKE UNION —James Pech, who left the now-closed Wanderfish and Co. in December, is now sous chef at Renee Erickson’s Rana e Rospo, the employees-only sandwich and salad counters inside the Amazon Spheres.
February 21, 2018
DENNY TRIANGLE — Following chef Derek Bugge’s departure last month, 2120 has promoted Rusty Cole from executive sous chef to executive chef and Kyle Quinn from junior sous chef to chef de cuisine. Owner Milan Uzelac said both have strong roots in contemporary American cuisine, which will remain the focus of the restaurant. He also denied any implications from Bugge that Bugge had toiled in back-breaking obscurity. “It feels like we’ve been unfairly painted with the same ‘ugly brush’ as many of the places that Derek worked, prior to joining us at both 99 Park and at 2120,” Uzelac said. “I let him go, for several reasons that I shall not mention here.”
January 25, 2018
DENNY TRIANGLE — Chef Derek Bugge, whose cooking style combined his Pacific Northwest upbringing and his mother’s Mexican heritage, has exited the kitchen at Milan Uzelac’s 2120, which opened next to the Amazon biospheres in June 2017. In fact, Bugge told Eater he’s left the profession for now, taking a sabbatical to reassess his priorities: “Over a decade of back-breaking, 70-plus-hours-a-week of grinding for someone else for little to no recognition, have left me in a place where mentally, and physically, I need a break. This is a time with my son that I will never get back, and no awards or accolades would ever replace that.”
Before opening 2120, Bugge was chef of Uzelac’s Bellevue restaurant, 99 Park, which has since closed due to redevelopment. Bugge said when he returns to the industry, he’ll be looking for an established business that promotes a life-work balance, whose vision of cuisine is concise and clear and prioritizes quality and seasonality, and whose supporting cast challenges him. Most importantly, he wants a mutually beneficial relationship in which his “ambition, experience, talent, and tireless drive to stay relevant” benefit him as well as the company. “But at the end of the day, I will do what is best for me, my family, and my health,” he says. At press time, Uzelac had not yet responded to an inquiry about the next steps for 2120.
BALLARD — Joli, chef Amy Beaumier’s Italian- and French-influenced bistro that opened on NW 65th St. last fall, has a new bar manager: longtime Oliver’s Twist bar manager Robert Rowland, an avid pinballer and a nominee for Eater Seattle’s Bartender of the Year 2014. According to a release, Rowland is inspired by the “big, bold, rich flavors of New Orleans-style cocktails” and will work closely with the kitchen to match his drinks to the seasonal food, hoping to make Joli one of Seattle’s premier cocktail destinations. Oliver’s Twist was sold to new owners last year, including bartender Karuna Long.
January 12, 2018
BALLARD — It’s the end of an era: Mike Whisenhunt, the former Revel chef who’s been in charge of Brimmer and Heeltap’s kitchen since the essential neighborhood bistro opened in 2014, has left the business to focus on his health and family, according to owner Jen Doak. Whisenhunt’s sous chef, David Valencia, is now the executive chef, and will slowly but surely find his own voice with the menu, which is likely to incorporate fewer of Whisenhunt’s Rachel Yang-inspired Asian touches and draw more influences from Valencia’s heritage, including his background in Arizona.
“Umami is known particularly in Asian cuisines, but it’s something that transcends all cuisines, so that beautiful balance of salty, sweet, and savory is something that will definitely play through this menu as well,” Doak said. For example, Valencia recently made a chorizo-stuffed tortellini with a clam broth, wrapping familiar flavors in an unexpected form. “It was heavily influenced by his French cooking techniques but with ingredients from family, like his mom’s chorizo,” Doak said. “It was beautiful.”
PIONEER SQUARE — Embassy Suites (located at 255 S King St., the same building that will soon house a new location of late-night landmark 13 Coins) announced last month that Matt Heikkila has been named executive chef. Heikkila has more than a decade of hospitality experience with the likes of Semiahmoo Resort, Salish Lodge and Spa, and, most recently, Pan Pacific Hotel. He’ll look to incorporate Pacific Northwest flavors and seasonal menus into the hotel’s dining experiences.
Have intel about a change of command in the kitchen, an up-and-coming new bar manager, or other staffing shakeups in the restaurant industry? Tipping is essential: Send Eater the details over the Seattle tipline and we’ll check it out. Meanwhile, check out this other post for Seattle’s chef shuffles of 2017.