"The art of restraint is using technique to enhance a disc without losing focus on the main ingredient".
We visited Seattle and one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs for 2011, Jason Franey of Canlis, just after Thanksgiving. In the young chef's words, "It smells like November." The menu presented is composed of hamachi and apples; cauliflower and truffles; sweet potato, cranberry and brussel sprouts; matsutake mushrooms; and maple syrup cured salmon. "The salmon in Seattle is insane, it's like no place else," says Franey, who nimbly prepared the following eight dishes with one hand tied behind his back.
Well, no, we didn't literally restrain the chef. The avid outdoor enthusiast was recovering from a snowboarding injury to his hand, the seriousness of which didn't register for Franey at the time of the mishap. Like a veteran chef who ignores the sting of a hot oven rack, Franey barreled down the mountain after injuring himself. Later his hand required corrective surgery. But with a little extra finesse and the assistance of his meticulous kitchen crew, Franey overcame the hindrance of a heavily bandaged hand lo present his interpretation of the art of restraint.
"Don't tell guests how to eat" are words by which the diligent and magnanimous chef lives. They are also an important part of his approach to cooking that is especially suited to Canlis. The Canlis family opened Canlis, the restaurant, in 1950. It has been a defining part of the fine dining scene in the Pacific Northwest ever since and has a devoted following. The family still owns and operates the landmark restaurant, which has had only five executive chefs in its history. Canlis has also become part of the history of Seattle and the family histories of its guests. "We recreate memories by request," says Franey, who enjoys carrying on the Canlis family's legacy and fine dining mantle. For instance, a couple makes a reservation for the evening of their wedding anniversary and requests the same dinner they had thirty years earlier. Franey obliges. He says he walks a fine line trying to satisfy the traditional tastes of life-long customers as well as the desires of more savvy diners looking for new flavors and innovative techniques. He likes listening to guests, adapting and moving in new and interesting directions Franey calls his cuisine "comfort geek." The "comfort" referring to his respect for tradition and "geek" referring to his reverence for the craft of cooking and his desire to contribute to its evolution.
Franey himself evolved under Chef Laurent Manrique [see issue 31] at Compton Place in San Francisco and Chef Daniel Humm [see issues 73 and 86] and restaurateur Danny Meyer at Eleven Madison Park. It will be exciting to see who in Franey's own kitchen today will be inspired by the Executive Chef and turn up in these pages tomorrow. We hope Franey's hand has healed properly and with fingers freed he can turn the page (and shred on the slopes) as we focus on his representation of The Art of Restraint.
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|Date:||Dec 22, 2011|
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