There’s some big changes coming to one of Seattle’s most iconic restaurants. On Monday, fine-dining destination Canlis revealed that head chef Brady Williams would be leaving in two months to open up his own restaurant. “We are sad to lose such a remarkable leader but couldn’t be more excited as we watch him pursue this dream,” co-owners Mark and Brian Canlis said in a statement.
The California-born Williams made his bones in the Dallas dining scene, then in the high-powered cauldron of New York City, working at famed pizzeria Roberta’s and the two-Michelin-starred Blanca. He joined Canlis as its sixth-ever executive chef in 2015 at the age of 29, and made an immediate impression, helping to bring a youthful, creative energy to the longtime Queen Anne classic with menus that drew from a variety of global influences, including elements from his mother’s native Japan. Not long after he started, the Seattle Times critic Providence Cicero gave Canlis a rare four-star review and wrote that the restaurant had achieved “new harmony.” In 2019, Williams won a James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest.
As Canlis made multiple adjustments during the pandemic in 2020, the soon-to-be-outgoing chef was front and center through the burger drive-thrus, outdoor crab boils, and family meal kit offerings that popped up along the way. When the restaurant launched a series of online culinary classes as part of its “community college” program this fall, Williams appeared as a lead host in many of the videos, cooking alongside many of the other rising stars around town, including Melissa Miranda of Musang and Kamonegi’s Mutsuko Soma.
Though there aren’t a lot of details yet on what Williams’s forthcoming project will look like, Seattle Met reports that it will be in Seattle proper and that his last day at Canlis will be February 27. No matter what, all eyes will be on his next moves, particularly given the challenges of opening any new restaurant at the moment.
Meanwhile, Canlis seems to be ready to dive into finding his successor soon, announcing what sounds like an open audition for the top job in the kitchen. “It’s time to build a better, stronger, and more caring industry,” the co-owners wrote. “Over the next few months we’ll be searching for the right chef to join us in that endeavor. If you think you’re up for the job, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”