2017 Featured Chefs
Megan is the Executive Chef and General Manager of Alstadt. Prior to her career as a chef, Megan worked in nonprofit development and marketing in Los Angeles. She continued this career path in New York until her affinity for food led her to New York’s French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center). She interned at the Michelin-starred Wallse, cooked at Jezebel under chef Joel Somerstein, and managed the kitchen of top New York catering company Olivier Cheng Catering and Events. She moved back to the Northwest in 2013 and found a home at Altstadt.
RN74 Executive Chef Ben Godwin's journey in the culinary world began in his hometown of Clare, England at age 16. After honing his culinary skills, Ben served as sous chef at the West Plaza Hotel in Wellington, New Zealand followed by an appointment to chef de partie at Fenix in Melbourne, Australia. Ben jumped continents to stage at Alinea in Chicago, before crossing back to Europe to stage at Noma in Copenhagen and The Fat Duck in Bray, England. This led to a two-year career post at The Fat Duck as chef de partie for the Michelin three-star restaurant. Ben married a Washington state native and set down roots in Seattle. As executive chef at RN74, Ben is passionate about creating a dining experience that cultivates the “wow” moments for guests.
Gourdet is the Culinary Director for Departure Restaurant, a forward-thinking, pan-Asian restaurant with locations in Portland and Cherry Creek, CO. Gourdet was a pre-med student with a Mohawk when he discovered a passion for cooking. The Mohawk stuck with him, but Gourdet made the leap from medicine to menus and worked his way up to Sous Chef at Jean-Georges. Later, as Chef de Cuisine at modern Chinese eatery, Restaurant 66, Gourdet cultivated an affinity for the Asian flavors for which he is known at Departure. Gourdet brings his health-mindedness to the table, offering delicious gluten-free, vegan, and paleo menus to guests at Departure. He was named Chef of the Year by Eater in 2014. Then, in 2015 he was the runner-up on season 12 of Top Chef and a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest.
Stephanie Izard, 2013 James Beard Best Chef: Great Lakes recipient, and 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chef, is the Executive Chef/Partner of three Chicago restaurants: Girl & the Goat, Little Goat, and Duck Duck Goat. A 2011 James Beard Best New Restaurant nominee, Girl & the Goat has been praised by high-profile publications such as Saveur, New York Times, and others. Little Goat, Stephanie’s highly successful follow-up, encompasses a diner, coffee shop, bakery and bar. In March 2016, Stephanie opened her third restaurant, a Chinese concept called Duck Duck Goat. Izard was the first woman to win Bravo’s Top Chef (Season 4) and is the only winner of the original version of the show to take the title of “Fan Favorite.”
Kristen Kish was born in South Korea and adopted into a family in Kentwood, MI. She showed an affinity for cooking at a young age. After moving to Boston, Kish worked in many high-profile restaurants including Michelin-star Chef Guy Martin’s Sensing and Barbara Lynch’s Stir. Kish competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Season 10 where she won the coveted title, becoming the second female chef to win. She went on to become Chef de Cuisine of Menton, Chef Barbara Lynch’s fine dining restaurant. Most recently, Kish was co-host of “36 Hours,” a Travel Channel show that partnered with The New York Times to bring the hit newspaper column to television. Kish is currently traveling and working on her cookbook.
Following a creative writing degree from Western Washington University, Stuart enrolled at Bellingham Technical College and worked at a local Italian restaurant. He graduated with a degree in Culinary Arts and in 2004, he left for Costigliole d'Asti to attend the Italian Culinary Institute in Piemonte. He later staged at the Hotel Monte del Re in Dozza, Italy. Upon returning to the U.S. he worked at Cafe Juanita as a prep cook, pastaoli, and finally, Chef de Cuisine. In 2010, Stuart came to Spinasse as Co-Sous Chef. In 2011, Stuart left for an Executive Chef position at Cuoco. He returned to Spinasse in 2013 and now oversees the menus and culinary direction at both Spinasse and casual Italian eatery and bar, Artusi.
Born and raised in Iowa, Carrie attended the School of Culinary Arts at the Art Institute of Seattle, then received a degree in Specialty Breads and Desserts from Seattle Central Community College. After an apprenticeship in France, she worked at the Sorrento Hotel, followed by Cafe Juanita, Beato Food and Wine, and Dinette. When Jason Stratton took over the Spinasse kitchen in 2009, he recruited Carrie and she has been his culinary partner ever since. In 2012, they competed as a team on Food Network’s Chef vs. City. The following year, Seattle Met named Carrie a Rising Star Chef, she competed on Bravo’s Top Chef New Orleans and then took the lead as Chef de Cuisine at Jason Stratton’s Spanish restaurant Aragona. In 2015, Carrie joined Jason at mamnoon as pastry chef and when Jason moved to open mbar in September 2016, Carrie took on the role of Executive Chef.
With aspirations well beyond his years, Maximillian has been cooking since the tender age of 11. A Seattle native, Maximillian moved to Washington, D.C. to pursue his passion and stage at Jose Andres’ Zaytinya. He further refined his skills at culinary school in Eugene, Oregon, where he started working at King Estate Winery. After moving to Austin at 22, he rose in the ranks at OIivia: from garde manger to sous chef and then quickly to chef de cuisine. Less than a year later, Maximillian was honored as Zagat Austin’s “30 Under 30” and received the “Austin Under 40” award presented by Austin Young Women’s Alliance and Austin Men’s Business League. After moving back to Washington, D.C. to serve as a private chef for a year, Maximillian returned home to Seattle to become chef of his own venture, Eden Hill. Most recently, he was named a semifinalist for James Beard Rising Star of the Year 2016.
Raised in Washington State's Snoqualmie Valley, Joe Ritchie’s childhood surrounded by lush farmland led him to attend the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. He headed back to the Northwest in 2002, to a sous chef position at The Herbfarm, followed by an executive chef role at Cave B Inn, where he worked closely with the winemaker as he created his menus. In 2010, he rejoined Jerry Traunfeld at Poppy, Seattle’s award-winning thali restaurant. After a jaunt down to Healdsburg, California’s two-Michelin star restaurant Cyrus, he returned to facilitate the reopening and rebranding of Ray’s Boathouse. Ritchie joined the Ethan Stowell Restaurant team in September of 2013, as the opening chef at Mkt. He’s garnered many accolades for the tiny restaurant and now leads the culinary team at Goldfinch Tavern at Four Seasons Hotel Seattle.
Jason Stratton began his career at the early age of 16 at Seattle’s Le Gourmand restaurant. While attending Evergreen State College, he worked at the now-closed Avenue One until moving to Cafe Juanita in 2002, where he served as a line cook and then a sous chef. In 2008, Stratton left for a 6-month sabbatical to Granada and upon his return, became co-chef at Poppy, where he worked until joining Spinasse in 2009. While at Spinasse, Stratton was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s 10 Best New Chefs for 2010 and opened both Artusi and Aragona, a James Beard semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in 2014. In September 2015, Stratton became General Manager and Executive Chef of Capitol Hill’s Mamnoon. This year, he opened mbar, an upscale rooftop restaurant and bar in Seattle’s burgeoning South Lake Union neighborhood.
A San Diego and Baja favorite for over 15 years, Chad White’s wild creativity, authentic sense of flavor and organic fearlessness drive his kitchens. He was named “The Seafood Maverick” after being recognized as one of San Diego’s best seafood chefs at Sea Rocket Bistro. After falling in love with Mexico, White opened eateries on both sides of the U.S. southern border: La Justina in Tijuana and Craft Pizza Company and Común Kitchen & Tavern in San Diego, where he was named Eater’s Chef of the Year in 2015. He has also been featured on Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and most recently as a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef Season 13. This summer, Chef White brought his borderless flavors to his hometown in Spokane, Washington with Zona Blanca, a new ceviche bar.