After my third day at WD-50, a strange thing happened. I found something I thought I had lost; my reason for cooking.
Years ago, I worked for Seattle’s most talented chef, Scott Carsberg. Don’t get me wrong, there are many very talented chefs in this city, doing very nice things in their restaurants. But Carsberg has a spark, a rare gift that very few in the world have; an intuition for flavor, and the restraint to present it perfectly He also runs a kitchen as tight as they come, setting the bar higher each day than the last, never letting standards for himself or his staff drop below that. In this kitchen I was born as a chef, and in this kitchen I thrived.
When I tell people I worked for Scott for nearly 3 years, they look at me with hungry eyes. He has a reputation for being a big personality, and they think I must have seen more than they can imagine, taken abuse like a soldier, witnessed bizarre and violent outbursts.
The truth is, it was a pretty quiet place. Sure, he barked a bit, I’ll admit that. But for the most part, he and I came in, did the best work we possibly could, put out the most perfect plates we knew how, and ended the night talking about how we could do it better the next day. Nothing was forsaken if it made the food better, no matter how much extra work it made for us. Conversation was left to a minimum while we focused on work, and no music was played lest it distract us. So literally, it was a pretty quiet kitchen.
I went into work with a clear vision each day, to make the most beautiful food possible. I took that to The Fat Duck, being enlivened even more. But somehow, somewhere, I lost that without realizing what had happened.
But after my 3rd day in Alex’s pastry kitchen, I saw food created for the same reason I once knew. It was after spending the later part of the evening watching the plates go out. Each plate was created to be as perfect as possible, not to go out the window as fast as possible, not to get out of the way so you can work another ticket. The food was not dumbed down so more of them could be made, nor was any plate any rushed, ignored, pampered, or given different treatment than the one before it. Every plate was simply the most perfect dish it could be.
It hit me then and there, that there is nothing I can gain in my own life right now that fills me with satisfaction the way working to my fullest potential does. There simply no reason for me not to be out creating desserts as beautiful and perfect as I know I can, each and every night. I know what I can and want to do, so why am I holding back?
To work at WD-50 would have been a dream, likewise many of the great kitchens in that big city where you don’t have to argue to set standards. To have stayed at The Fat Duck would have been heaven. But for every choice we make in life, life makes one for us, and life has told me I live in the pacific northwest.
Thus, I am breaking free of The Rainier Club. Not to say that there is anything lacking in this kitchen, but the kitchen runs on another chefs vision. Bill creates symphonies, grand dishes with a myriad of melodic flavors. I am Scott Carsberg’s child, a minimalist through and through. I am ready to express that, or work along side another with a vision to match.
Now comes the hardest part, finding that place again.