This is the second installment of our interview with Chambers, a line cook currently transitioning from Olivar to Tavolata. Read part one, for more on Zack's taste, and why he went to culinary school. Today he talks about some of his favorite preparations, dating from when he was ten years old, as well as where he'd enjoy a hundred dollar meal standing up.
photo by Adriana Grant
Chambers:Top Ramen, easily hands down. I would eat that stuff for breakfast, I would eat it when I got home from school. I liked the Oriental flavor, followed shortly by the beef flavor. That was my first personal cooking instance. Using a small portion of that flavor packet, and then rifling through my parents spice cabinet, using some cayenne pepper and some green stuff, whatever. I was ten years old.
You're making a pizza. What's on it?
Olive oil, rosemary, chili flakes, sliced fresh potato, and spicy sausage.
Where do you eat if you have just $5?
Saigon Deli. Barbecued pork banh mi, and egg rolls, $4.50. Walk out with change to spare. On Jackson about a third of the way up the black from 12th. There are about three of them in that little complex. It's in a little mall with two to three levels. It's got a little parking lot next door to it, and couple doors down there's a used car lot. I know that there's Seven Stars Pepper upstairs, but at the far end of the whole complex. It's the one closest to Rainier. Go to it, it's delicious.
Where do you go if you had $100?
I would go to Sitka and Spruce. I would get a nice bottle of wine, a couple of plates, and just relax. That was one of my inspiring dining moments, that turned my thinking towards taking this a little more seriously. I love the food there. It's some of the cleanest, most straightforward, honest, delicious food that you're gonna find in Seattle right now. I remember a salad that was dressed just perfectly: really good olive oil and lemon and salt. That was perfect for me. The wine was good. It was the whole experience. We didn't even have a seat. Drinking standing up, eating standing up, and just shooting the breeze with everybody there.
What's your after-work hangout?
I go to Café Presse a lot. I go to The Deluxe for beers because it's nearby. I also like to get a big tall delicious beer and go home and sit on my porch and just stare out, decompress. That's a good time for me.
What would you like to see more of in Seattle from a culinary standpoint?
I want to see small straightforward food places. On Capitol Hill specifically, I want a soup, salad, and sandwich shop that's delicious. Not a vegan spin to it, not like a this spin to it, just good stuff. Street food would be awesome. I am a little jealous of Portland right now. Part of me wants to just pack up shop and head down there at a point, because they have the street food thing, it's a total bonanza right now, and it sounds amazing. I would like to see more people out there doing something that they're really good at. A friend of mine was talking about opening a latke shop for a while, which I think would be amazing. A really good pizza spot, something other than Pagliacci or Via Tribunali.
Anything you'd like to see less of?
Less crappy Asian food. These tiny cookie cutter boxy... Chinese take-out, Japanese seafood, I think that could go away, a couple of them at least. I have a weird soft spot for Panda Express, I used to dine there every couple of weeks. I'd go for their firecracker shrimp. Things like that. Places where the proprietors are not being honest. It's not a culinary thing, it's a business endeavor. I'm a big fan of honesty in food, and honesty in your product. You've got to believe in what you're doing, not just try and make a buck off it.
Can you tell me what you're looking forward to at Tavolata?
The day I went down there, in trail, it was like I was putting on pair of shoes I hadn't worn in awhile, that were really well broken in. I took to the pasta really, really quickly. It was just an awesome feeling. The crew down there is young, they're really professional, but not these hardened professionals. It was a really good vibe down there. Their product is straightforward, it's delicious. They're doing a handful of things that are very seasonally based. Pulling a lot of local ingredients, which is good. They're doing a geoduck crudo which is delicious. All their pastas are made there. All the pasta is pumped out downstairs. That's everything from a rigatoni to gnocchi, spaghetti, to the raviolis. It's awesome. It's a really, really sweet space.
Check back tomorrow for Chamber's recipe, a pasta that he, and you, can make at home.