We continue our discussion today with Chef Jason Franey of Canlis in Seattle. Click to read Part 1 if you missed it.
Matt: How do you describe your “Comfort Geek” style?
Jason: I’m French trained but we call it contemporary Northwest. We use all Northwest ingredients other than caviar, truffles, and the like. All of our produce is local and most of our meats are local. When we say contemporary Northwest, it means we are trying to push the bar a little bit but sticking to the classics. On our menu, we essentially have three styles. We have the classic Canlis style that’s been around since 1950. I have a contemporary style where all the protein is cooked perfect. There might be a ragu, puree, or oil. Simple, but straight and focused. Then I have the tasting menu where I can do whatever I want. And that’s where the caviar comes into play.
Matt: What’s your favorite caviar?
Jason: Every time I put caviar on the menu, we do a blind tasting of what’s available to determine what we’re going to go with. We always end up picking the Russian Osetra that is now farmed in Bulgaria. It’s perfect, rich, not over the top fishy. More creamy and buttery.
(Jason was nice enough to create the special version of his Black Olive Cornet with Osetra, seen at right, normally served with Wasabi tobiko on his tasting menu.)
Matt: If you’re going to enjoy caviar by yourself, how do you eat it?
Jason: On the menu now, I have a crab salad wrapped in plum with the caviar on top. But if I’m at home, I usually go the classic route. All you need is blini and creme fraiche. Maybe a little bit of chive. Fried blini are really good. Super simple. I eat it right of the spoon too.
Matt: You won the Best New Chef award from Food & Wine in 2011. How did that feel?
Jason: It was amazing. You always dream of winning these awards and being up there with the chefs you respect. The chefs that I look up to or have worked with have won it. To be part of that family is a big deal. Personally and professionally for me, it’s a big accomplishment. Thomas Keller has won it. Daniel Boulud has won it. My old Chef Daniel Humm has won it. Grant Achatz has won it. It’s cool to be a part of that family. It’s an honor.
Matt: What is unique about the Seattle food scene?
Jason: The first thing about Seattle is the produce and ingredients. The bounty is insane. The seasons are pretty short, but what you get here is really, really good. The Chef community is super tight knit. The food scene here is great and people are pushing to do good food. There is always a good restaurant opening up from BBQ to Mom & Pop’s to fine dining.
Matt: You’ve spent some time on the East Coast and on the West Coast now. Can you talk about the differences?
Jason: There’s a lot more Asian fusion with French technique on the west coast. Which is great, because those are the ingredients I love. I don’t think a lot of American Chefs say “I’m going to be an Asian fusion Chef”. I think we’re exposed to so many different ingredients that Chefs just pick what they like. I love Japanese, French, and Northwest so I put those all together.
Well thank you Chef Franey for taking the time to sit down with Caviarblog. We appreciate and know our readers do to. If you haven’t been to Canlis, now you see why you need to get there.
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