Where Are They Now?

Playing lost and found with three noted area chefs.

A while back, a friend of mine mentioned being over at his friend's house and watching this friend's roommate juggle an entire side of pork and a few whole chickens around the kitchen. "Who's your friend's roommate?" I asked. "He's a chef," my friend said. "He used to work at Cassis." Aha. Pleased that I now had the answer to another friend's question ("What do you think happened to Charlie Durham after Cassis closed?") from some weeks prior, I played out the rest of the conversation with the first friend and then quickly e-mailed the other, reporting, "Charlie Durham has been in his kitchen slicing bacon." Of course, Durham's been doing more than that; as it turns out, in the year that's passed since Cassis closed, he's been hanging out with his dog and watching Rachel Ray on The Food Network with the sound muted. Oh, and he and his roommate have been making plans to open an English-style pub. Now, English cuisine isn't something that typically sets mouths watering (which may or may not be fair), but Durham's menu is another matter. Do you miss those crisp, perfect matchstick French fries from Cassis? I suspect they'll show up alongside Durham's mussels, and as the chips in his fish and chips. (Durham told me he doesn't think he's had good fish and chips—ever—except when they'd make them for the crew at Cassis. Sounds to me like he's daring himself here.) Pork pies in the tradition of the English town Melton Mowbray will be served with watercress salad and walnut jam; Stilton cheese, Melton Mowbray's other noted culinary contribution, will show up on Durham's freshly ground burger. For dessert, Eccles cake—a currant and brown sugar–filled pastry named for the Manchester borough it originated in—will be served with English cheddar. When and where? I promise to tell you as soon as I get word. FINDING DURHAM REMINDED me of an e-mail we received from a reader who had lost her favorite chef, restaurant, and shrimp scampi when the Beach House Italian Cafe on Alki closed several months ago. Remembering that Michael Vujovich had appeared on KCTS Chefs a few years back, I wrote to Paula Nemzek at the station and asked if she could help me track him down. She did, expeditiously, and when I got hold of the chef, there was good news again: Vujovich is planning to open a Tuscan-style cafe this summer on West Seattle's other restaurant row, California Avenue. "When it was busy, it was too busy, and when it was cold, it was too cold," Vujovich said of his former location. Fine with me, as long as we can still get the salmon risotto up there on higher ground. So where has Vujovich been since the Beach House closed? Just a little chef's convention in Rome (he says he was the only American there), and from time to time, the Montenegro-born chef has been known to do wedding catering—Mediterranean food mainly—for his friends from the Serbian Orthodox church in Issaquah. (Now if that isn't a reason to get yourself to the Sunday morning service and start shaking hands, I don't know what is.) YET ANOTHER FAVORITE chef whose departure left diners with only the memories of meals gone by is Saleh Joudeh of Green Lake's Saleh al Lago and Avenue 52. (Although Joudeh's fans are better off than some; Phil Mihalski of Nell's, which occupies the old Saleh al Lago space, still serves a few of Joudeh's dishes and even has him back at Nell's from time to time for "Saleh al Lago Night.") When Nemzek and I were talking about the dear, departed chef conundrum, she mentioned how much she missed Avenue 52's upside-down chicken. A few days later, I was flipping through PCC's cooking-class catalog, and lo and behold: The popular doctor-turned-Italian-chef is teaching three classes in March. lcassidy@seattleweekly.com

 
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