Photo by Geoffrey Smith
It's tough to keep on top of the constantly shifting roles and trends of chefs and restaurants, even for those who


Year-End Updates On Grillaxin's Top Movers and Shakers of 2012

Photo by Geoffrey Smith
It's tough to keep on top of the constantly shifting roles and trends of chefs and restaurants, even for those who interview them. This year, the chefs and business owners on Grillaxin' threw us for a loop, moving from one restaurant to another and shaking up the food world with their news and candor. Food lovers mourned as beloved restaurants and pop ups closed up shop, and cheered on their favorite chefs as new opportunities led to more options for local diners. Change is dreaded by many and welcomed by some, but with New Year's resolutions set, we can look to the past interviews of these movers and shakers for ways to gracefully approach the steps ahead.

Ful_Taylor Cheney.jpg
Ful Medames and other dishes by Taylor Cheney
Chef Taylor Cheney impressed us all with the hospitality and food from her Middle Eastern pop up Arabesque, which took place at Mistral Kitchen on Monday nights. The special pop up drew the patronage of Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, Eater Seattle reported. But we were soon disappointed when Arabesque served its last meal, and Cheney moved to Egypt to further enhance her knowledge of Middle Eastern cuisine.

Update: Cheney now lives in Cairo, Egypt and has stuck to her pledge of eating something new every day, and learning from the local ladies. She is loving life, and expanding her repertoire of dishes to include temeya (falafel), fatayer (a stuffed pastry), and a surprising Egyptian favorite, macaroni béchamel.

Photo by Tiffany Ran
Chef Mike Robertshaw charmed Belltown by opening Local 360. Shortly after the interview, Robertshaw, regarded by many chefs in the industry as the one to call was surprisingly handed the pink slip.

Update: Ever the workaholic, Robertshaw bounced back quickly after the layoff, and jumped on to help Matt Lewis open Roux. Last reported by Yahoo! Travel's "Food Truck 411", Roux's opening was delayed to 2013. Something to look forward to.

King's Donuts co-owner Davie Hay amused and repulsed us with a customer service story unlike any other, and two infamous words never thought to be seen on a food blog, "shitty drawers."

Update: The sassy donut queen maintains her composure at the throne of her donut-teriyaki-laundromat establishment, where her sass helps her deal with well-intentioned felons and a slew of interesting characters from the neighborhood.

Marjorie chef Lauri Carter broke all our hearts when announcing over Grillaxin' that she was on her way out of the restaurant kitchen. At the time of her interview, she was giving herself two months to transition out of Marjorie into her new calling.

Update: Now working as a real estate agent, Carter is enjoying a busy holiday season, and having more time to cook and enjoy more dinners at home with her husband.

Chef Matt Fortner shocked the food scene with a candid interview about his departure from How to Cook a Wolf. Concluding the interview, he spoke of embracing the freedom to craft creative dishes, and landing somewhere where he can stay for the long run.

Update: Since the interview, Seattle Met reports that Fortner joined the Tom Douglas camp as one of six "rovers," helping out in various Tom Douglas kitchens, possibly with the upcoming opening of Douglas' falafel shop.

Photo by Tiffany Ran
Quirky, exuberant chef Zephyr Paquette inspired us with the story behind the birth of her Capitol Hill space, Skelly and the Bean. From foster homes to restaurant kitchens, Paquette opened her own restaurant with the help and support of many community members.

Update: Paquette will be closing the doors of Skelly and the Bean on December 21st in search of a different space. In the meantime, she is gaining fans by the thousands as a prospective Food Network star, and keeping her fingers crossed for that special phone call from network execs.

Roaming chef Nick Castleberry announced his return to Seattle in his Grillaxin' interview after a trip to his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. He chose to enjoy his summer aboard the Skillet food truck before setting off on a new unknown project.

Update: Castleberry moved on from his summer fling with bacon jam to helping sisters Miki Sodos and Yuki Sodos reopen Cafe Pettiroso. The restaurant re-opened at the end of October.

Henry Ku of Henry's Taiwan Plus had us all questioning our own work ethic after sharing his story of slinging burgers past 2 a.m. His stunning dedication led his boss to help buy Ku his very first house.

Update: Refreshed and inspired after returning from his trip to Taiwan, Ku is back at Henry's Taiwan Plus entertaining ideas for new ideas and planning future wine dinners.

Photo by Charity Lynne
Cheesemonger Sheri LaVigne intrigued us with her love of smell sweat-sock-invoking cheese. After having her fill of stinky cheese in France, LaVigne began a journey of trying all the different cheeses she could. Once in Seattle, she set about opening her own cheese shop, inspired by the look and feel of her favorite cheese shop, the Bedford Cheese Shop in Brooklyn, New York.

Update: LaVigne is keeping busy at the Calf and Kid, filling orders for the holidays. The shop is currently taking orders for holiday cheese selections. Customers can choose from sets including Pacific Northwest Selections, European Classics, and Around the World to prepare an impressive holiday cheese set.

Fuji Bakery owner Akihiro Nakamura hinted at the possibility of opening up a larger location in order to bring back the cakes once sold out of their Bellevue store. A few months after his interview with Grillaxin' a sign was put up on the bakery door announcing its closure, stating that they are taking time off to focus on opening its new store on Elliott Ave W.

Update: The opening of their Interbay store has been delayed until this month. On December 16, Fuji Bakery shared with an eager fan on Twitter that they're tending to last minute details on the Interbay shop. Fingers crossed that their pastries will be available for the holidays.

And that rounds out the list of Top Grillaxin' Movers and Shakers of 2012!

But while we're on the topic of updates, I will take this moment to say that this will be my last column for Grillaxin' as I am moving forward with my own venture, BlindCock Media. I wanted to give special thanks to the writers and editors of Voracious, the chefs and restaurant owners who have so kindly shared themselves with me this past year, and all the Voracious readers for your support. I've so enjoyed the privilege of speaking to the many talented individuals in this industry. This next step would not be possible without the inspiration drawn from their stories.

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Find more from Tiffany Ran on her blog, PalateB2W, or on Twitter.

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