Resort restaurants may be "destination dining" for Northwest foodies, but for a major chef, these kitchens are often mere stepping stones in an onward-and-upward career. Is this a raw deal for the restaurants? Ask Paul Wolman, food and beverage director for Salish Lodge & Spa in Snoqualmie, how he feels about the Aug. 19 departure of executive chef Mike Davis, and you get an unexpected response: He's all smiles. "Chefs are known to search for success in their own enterprises," Wolman said recently, adding: "They pay their dues. . . . We can only hope to be the launchpad of their success." Though Wolman initially claimed "retention is not a problem" at Salish, when pressed he admitted that hiring ambitious chefs is a double-edged sword. A certain chef may be the rising tide that lifts all boatsboosting other areas of business for the resort, like spa services or conference facilitiesbut tidal-wave additions to the kitchen staff can come with a serious undertow. Resort chefs often depart within a year or two of arrival, as has been the case with Salish, which is currently seeking its third executive chef in five years. (Davis' predecessor, Stephen Janke, left in May 2001 to become a private chef.) These days, Davis is focusing on the creation of a new Walla Walla restaurant, 26 Brix, but his signature dishpressed duck à la Frédéricmay live on in Snoqualmie, since the owner of Salish's French duck press is none other than Wolman himself.
Once a culinary trend has appeared in a Rowan Atkinson movie, you know it's a force to be reckoned with. Such is the case with kaiten sushi, featured in the recent Atkinson flick Johnny English. To wit: Our hero gets his tie caught in the conveyor belt transporting sushi around a large communal table, and hysterical slapstick ensues. On a local level, when you walk into Sushi Express, the new kaiten joint in the U District, you see a midsized model train delivering ornate bites of fish and rice to hungry customers, and you think you've walked into a parallel universe. Now that the trend has reached the U, it can do nothing but spread: Blue C Sushi is scheduled to touch down in Fremont this month. Tie wearers beware.
After founding pilot Danielle Custer left the controls, the Hyatt Grand Regency's 727 Pine has been on autopilot, with Custer's fabulous but idiosyncratic, high-concept menu pretty much intact but without her flair and eagle eye for detail to make it all work. That awkward situation is quietly being resolved: Last month a revised, more hotel-customer- (and bottom-line-) friendly breakfast menu was instituted, keeping some Custeriana like ricotta flapjacks but returning to traditional hotel breakfast fare like eggs B., waffles, and corned beef hash. Lunch, debuting just last week, is much less adventurous, dominated by standbys like Caesar salad, grilled cheeseburgers, pizzas, and crab cakes. Traditionally, breakfast and lunch at a hotel restaurant belong to the tourists and business travelers, while dinner allows the kitchen more chance to show its stuff, so the real evidence of where 727 chef Shannon Galusha plans to take the place will be unveiled with his new dinner menu due at the end of this month.