At Seattle’s Shaker + Spear, we’re elated to welcome Executive Chef Carolynn Spence to the Kimpton team. The New Jersey native’s resume reads like a foodie’s dream, spanning both coasts and listing experience in venues from New York’s Spotted Pig to, most recently, Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont and Bar Marmont. We recently caught up with the culinary wizard, and luckily for us, it sounds as though Carolynn’s just as excited to be here as we are to have her.
Q: Have you always been at ease in the kitchen?
A: Professional kitchens have a tendency to accept individuals of a quirky nature with open arms, as long as you put the work in; so yes, I’ve always been at ease in the kitchen.
Q: Who have been some of your greatest culinary influences, and what are the qualities you’ve most admired about them?
A: Chef Chris Schlesinger and Chef Andy Husbands who ran East Coast Grill in Cambridge, Massachusetts, were my initial and greatest culinary influences. I didn’t realize until I moved on how ahead of the curve they really were … [working with] simple, great local ingredients treated with bright flavors over wood fire and done with fun. But really everywhere you go and everyone you work for, you pick up some influence.
Q: Although you’ve lived in California since 2006, what are some East Coast sensibilities you’ve maintained (in the kitchen and beyond)? In what ways have you changed to become more “West Coast”?
A: Hmm … Not sure the coasts have changed my cooking as much as just my personal palate. I used to cook a bit heartier, but lately I’ve been lightening up my hand. I’m always looking for a way to throw more vegetables into dishes.
Q: What do you hope to bring to Shaker + Spear?
A: Shaker & Spear is a lovely kitchen, conveniently located right near the Pike Place Market. All I can hope to bring to it is some fresh, bright, fun local ingredients from nearby, taking advantage of the Pacific Northwest “terroir.”
Q: What ingredients are you most enjoying working with these days?
A: I usually enjoy working with any ingredients I can get my hands on. Inspiration can be found from even the simplest ingredients. I’m looking forward to spring’s fiddleheads, ramps and mushrooms, though.
Q: What types of dishes can diners expect to find on your menu?
A: I’m currently playing with some gorgeous, whole-fried snapper, which is fun and adds great drama to the table … Some potted smoked trout with potato gaufrettes, a nice little steak and bone marrow. Also some desserts that come with me wherever I go—salted pistachio cake, coconut crème caramel. Really I’m just feeling out the restaurant and space and letting it tell me where it wants to go.
Q: What are you most excited about in terms of being based in Seattle?
A: There are a lot of great music venues nearby, so I’m looking forward to seeing a bit of rock ‘n’ roll. I’m also obsessed with the nearby water access; the goal is to get a kayak and get out there. I used to row on a crew team ages ago … perhaps I’ll find a rowing club to do some skulling with.
Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know about your new Kimpton restaurant gig?
A: I’m looking forward to building a great team to have fun with!
Try Chef Carolynn’s aptly-named “Orca Meets Beluga” lentil and bean salad for your next healthy snack attack.
“Orca Meets Beluga” Lentil & Bean Salad with Endive
- ½ cup Dry Orca Beans
- ½ cup Dry Beluga Lentils
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp green onion, chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup Greek Yogurt
- 1 tbsp Garlic, Brunoise
- 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp Lime Juice
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1 Endive, cut into spears
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Bean Mixture: Soak Orca Beans for 5 hours in water.
- Slow simmer Orca beans in water until tender, about 1 hour.
- Slow simmer Beluga lentils in water until tender, about 20 minutes.
- Drain, cool & mix beans together with parsley, green onion, lemon & salt to taste.
- Pepper: Roast or grill pepper to char skin. Peel & seed pepper, finely dice.
- Yogurt Sauce: In sauté pan, cook garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes. The garlic should be golden but not burnt.
- In a bowl, mix garlic & oil with yogurt & lime juice. Season to taste with salt.
- Layer in jars or cups: yogurt first, pepper second, beans on top
- Serve with endive spears & a spoon.