marche_scottrobinson.jpg
Tiffany Ran
Scott Robinson took the road less traveled to the market, Restaurant Marché on Bainbridge Island, that is. After working at the catering kitchen

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Restaurant Marché's Scott Robinson Embraces Life on the Island

marche_scottrobinson.jpg
Tiffany Ran
Scott Robinson took the road less traveled to the market, Restaurant Marché on Bainbridge Island, that is. After working at the catering kitchen at Washington State University, Rover's, and at Crush for three years, Robinson backpacked around Thailand before starting his job as sous chef at Restaurant Marché. Back in his culinary school days, he returned from a shift at the restaurant at 2 a.m. and read Marco Pierre White's books until 5 a.m., sleeping only two hours before waking up for class the next day. The energetic and fact-paced Robinson also admits to reading every single one of Greg Atkinson's books before starting as his sous chef.

SW: How was your trip to Thailand? Was it professional or personal?

Robinson: It was a mix of both. I was kind of planning on going to Thailand or going to try and work at Noma. My older brother was traveling and he said, "Meet me at Bangkok." I kind of figured I'd either be really broke working at Noma, having a good time but not really living, or hang out with my brother and live in Thailand for a month. So I went to Thailand, and hung out with my older brother, and ate a bunch of food. I brought some knives. So we'd find kitchens to cook in, places to hang out, locals to eat with, and it was a lot of fun. In 12 days, I moved my entire house, put everything into storage, and moved to Thailand.

Were you able to cook while you were there?

On Christmas Eve, we went shopping and went to markets, got these random things, and bought these chickens from this really weird supermarket that we found. We cooked ourselves a Christmas dinner. We did mash potatoes and gravy, and cabbage, and all this stuff. We had these British people we were hanging out with and we cooked them a full blown American dinner. We had these Thai people who were hanging out in the kitchen who never had gravy or mash potatoes, so they were astounded by what we were doing. And we did this all in a wok. It was great. It was so much fun.

Did you know Greg Atkinson before you interviewed with him?

I went to school at Seattle Central and he was my third culinary instructor. I interviewed with him prior to leaving for Thailand, so I knew when I left that I would be coming back to work for Restaurant Marché.

How would you describe Marché's food?

The techniques are very French and the cuisine is mostly Northwest. A lot of the dishes have the classic French influences. We have dishes like trout meuniere, moules frites, steak frites and gnocchi parisienne. We have these dishes, but we're kind of refining them. Chef has this sabayon for these oysters that we put in canisters and chargers.

We have that immersion circulator but we don't really use it because we're still developing other things. We have a Sous Vide Supreme that we do for our Salade Lyonnaise, but we primarily just do eggs in it. We hold eggs at 140 degrees and it holds the yolks so that they're still liquid.

Have you had a lot of experience with these machines?

When I was at Crush for three years, they were very heavily modernist so we did sous vide on a lot of the products. I think we were one of the first to get sous vide certified in the city. So we brought in like ten health inspectors and showed them the entire process and got our HACCP plan written up. So I worked a lot with that over there. I think we're a lot of more ingredient based rather than modernist. So we source a lot of our meats from Skagit River [Ranch] or from all the farmers on the island.

How has this job been different, and how have you adapted?

I moved to an island which is entirely different from the city. Our regulars are amazing, they're such amazing people. We have a wood fire grill, which I've never worked with, so it's learning how to work a wood fire grill, knowing how much wood you need. A week ago, Chef [Atkinson] had split a bunch of wood from the backyard of his house, which burned a lot slower because it was fresher as opposed to getting the wood from Charlie's [Produce]. We have a rational convection oven, which I've never used before, so it's really about learning about all the tools and techniques. There's also designing the line to work in how we like it to be organized, or getting speed rails to hang tickets, or just moving plates to different places. It's funny because you spend so much time moving things around and people are like, "Oh, it's so organized," and we're like, "But we can do so much more!"

It's kind of interesting living on an island because if you're in Seattle and you need Corfini [Gourmet], you can just stop by the company any day. But here, you have to plan your ordering because Corfini comes on Tuesdays and Fridays and Charlie's [Produce] comes on Tuesdays and Saturdays. So you have these windows where you need to get your product. It's this whole other game where you have to order this on Wednesday or "Oh yeah, I have to order this on Friday." It's crazy because they don't just come whenever you want them to. You have to work your way around their schedules.

So you've read all of Greg Atkinson's books, which one is your favorite?

"At the Kitchen Table" is amazing. I love his philosophy behind it. And I like "In Seasons: Culinary Adventures of a San Juan Island Chef", which is one of his first ones because the picture on the back is him without a mustache when he was like my age holding a box of chanterelles. It's really cool.

I just like the way he writes and how every recipe is tied to his philosophy. Every recipe has a reason and is tied to like, 'my grandmother,' or that every recipe has his philosophy. It's not just a production of food, it's like a reality of why we produce food.

Do you think that reading his books has helped put you on the same page with him, understanding more what he wants and how he wants things done?

I think we were always on the same page. When he was my teacher, I felt like we just vibed really well. We were just the same. I felt like I'm just a younger version of Chef Greg, which is brilliant. We both have the same philosophy on food and how we want things done. It's just more of the reality that we do it because want people to have a great time. We do it because we want to nurture people, and not just cooking to cook. It's my life. I don't just do it because I want to make money. I do it because I truly enjoy being in the kitchen.

 
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