It’s safe to say no one else in the Seattle area is doing what these chefs do (or doing it as well). For their unique and creative approaches to diversifying Seattle’s cuisine, we dub the following our 2016 Tastemakers.
Arabic Brunch Goddess
Skip the pancakes and head to the Central District, stat, for Taylor Cheney’s Yalla (Facebook: “‘Yalla Seattle”), an authentic Arabic-themed pop-up at The Atlantic (2519 S Jackson St.; 206.329.5499; theatlanticseattle.com). On weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Cheney, a former La Bête chef, and her sidekick, Kurdish-born Pinar Ozhal, prepare traditional Syrian, Turkish and Egyptian breakfast foods: warm pita straight from the wood-fired oven; lemony-smooth hummus; flawless falafel encrusted with whole coriander; kicky zaatar pie studded with fermented turnips. Cheney, whose Saudi Arabian neighbors inspired her interest in Middle Eastern cuisine, spent time cooking in restaurants in Egypt, and knows her ful (the national fava bean dish). Not the brunch type? Catch her Arabic mezze pop up—with inventive cocktails by Lebanese bartender Samira Bechara—on Mondays from 4:30 to 10 p.m. at The Atlantic. Your tastebuds will thank you.
Nashville Hot Chicken Guy
Nashville restaurateur Jake Manny sure brought the heat with him when he returned to Seattle earlier this year. The Bainbridge native spent his five years in Tennessee falling in love with Nashville’s brand of fiery, fried chicken. He has perfected his version at the cozy, all-ages Georgetown bar, Sisters and Brothers (Georgetown, 1128 S Albro Pl, 206.762.3767; sistersandbrothersbar.com), where lines wrap around the block to get a taste of the deeply-complex and crunchy chicken (you choose naked, mild, hot, or insane). Manny and executive chef Jessie Smith (formerly of SkyCity at the Needle) fry Draper Valley chickens in a heavenly blend of lard and spices (we tasted thyme, cumin and cayenne) and recently expanded their menu to include beloved Southern side dishes—and, wait for it—have plans to eventually add buckets of hot chicken to-go. Now, we’re in love.
He’s been teaching youth cooking classes in Hillman City for years and blowing up the Royal Room (Columbia City, 5000 Rainier Ave. S, 206.906.9920; theroyalroomseattle.com) with his popular Mediterranean-North African brunch pop up, Morning Star (cheftarik.com). Now, Seattle native Tarik Abdullah, a former Cicchetti sous chef, is unleashing his creative sweet tooth via Rose & Blossom, a Moroccan pop-up bakery (South Lake Union, Lick Pure Cream, 434 Yale Ave. N, 206.854.1027; lickpc.com) featuring goodies like ras al hanout (a North African spice blend) doughnuts dipped in rose glaze and walnut ghriba (a type of cookie) sandwiches stuffed with chamomile vanilla pistachio ice cream. The desserts will make an appearance at Abdullah’s next venture (you know, because he has so much free time): Black and Tan, a community-funded performing arts space and restaurant in the former Maxims building in Hillman City. (Pop-up schedule on Facebook: “A DJ and A Cook”). Can’t. Wait.
The New General
Just open this fall, New Luck Toy, a neighborhood bar in the former Chopstix location (West Seattle, 5905 California Ave. SW; newluckytoy.bar) serves Chinese-American favorites—xiao mein, barbecued lucky ducky with plum sauce, spicy shrimp and pork fat dumplings—alongside stiff drinks and karaoke. This is not a gimmick. It’s just awesome. Proprietor Mark Fuller (of Ma’ono Fried Chicken & Whisky) and clubby bar Rhino Room partner Patric Gabre-Kidan wanted to open a cozy spot—a place that they thought would be fun for people, Fuller says—and since the location originally housed a Chinese restaurant, they decided to keep the kitchen intact and cook Chinese food (made by former Ma’Ono noodle boss, Khampaeng Panyathong). Fuller knows how to give the people what they want: he flipped the four-year-old Spring Hill to Ma’ono when he realized the most popular thing about the restaurant was its Monday night fried chicken suppers. Respect.
The Flour Whisperer
Imagine you’re a renowned pastry chef at some of the country’s top, Michelin-starred restaurants (San Francisco’s Coi and Napa Valley’s The Restaurant at Meadowood, to be exact). What would you do next? Well, Matt Tinder moved to Bremerton and shook up the area with his two bakeries specializing in European style pastries—mouth-watering brioche au sucre with Meyer lemon filling, heavenly tarte tropézienne—plus whole-grain breads, pizzas and the occasional Australian-style meat hand pies. At Saboteur Manette (2110 E 11th St., 360.627.7869; saboteurbakery.com), Tinder and Kate Giuggio, his partner in life and business, operate both a pastry oven and an Italian bread oven. Saboteur Bagged (Bremerton, 247 Fourth St.) specializes in morning pastries and sandwiches, perfect for lunch on the go. Tinder’s secret is that he puts his dough first: the bakery opens when the pastries are ready, not a moment sooner. Breads, many made with ancient grains, are hand-mixed and naturally leavened for three days. These days, his Tuesday night pizza pop-ups at Manette are heating up his new 'hood. Reservations? Yes. Per pie, until they’re gone.