Unleashing the Kraken

From the Kraken Congee website
You've heard of pop-up restaurants, right? It's the concept wherein a temporary restaurant "pops up" inside a different restaurant. Sometimes the food is prepared by people from that restaurant, and sometimes it's more similar to a catered event, with a culinary team coming from elsewhere. The concept is really fun - guests of the restaurant have the opportunity to try a new cuisine, and the cooks get to serve meals that are not standards of the restaurant. It's a great opportunity to see if the type of cuisine being explored has viability to become a stand-alone restaurant.

Courtesy of Kraken Congee
Well, three chefs (Shane Robinson, Garrett Doherty, Irbille Donia) whom I respect a great deal have been running a popular pop-up restaurant - Kraken Congee - for the past year, and they are on the cusp of opening a brick-and-mortar (aka I'm-a-real-boy! restaurant).

Maybe you've only heard of Kraken or even stood in line for its food (which sells out within 3 hours)? Probably -  there has been a lot of media and social media coverage of them lately, including CNBC's Restaurant Startup.
winning an investment offer on

My connection to Kraken? Through "the Industry," duh. I've also rolled spring rolls, debeaked octopuses, fried scallion pancakes, and plucked cilantro for these guys.

I met Chef Shane Robinson in 2010 when I was a first quarter culinary student, still learning the blade end from the handle of a knife. He was the opening sous chef at Stopsky's Delicatessen, a Northwest twist on well-loved Jewish food. When the opening chef, Robin Leventhal, left, Chef Shane stepped into the chef-GM position and led the team.

Chef Shane
Courtesy of Kraken Congee
He introduced me to Garrett Doherty and Irbille Donia, two chefs he met when they were all newbies in that same aforementioned culinary school. Chef Garrett is a chef at The Ruins, a membership-based dining club in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood. Chef Shane - and more recently, Chef Irbille - work at Bon Appetit Management Company, serving lunch to 3000 Amazon employees every weekday.

Congee was a cuisine idea that Chef Shane had been exploring, and it originally started as a congee-
cart concept. How nice would it be to tuck into a bowl of steaming congee on a blustery, wet and rainy day in Seattle? Very nice. Chef Shane wanted to bring congee from its obscure, after-thought positioning into the forefront by modernizing the types of meats, vegetables, and condiments used to season and bulk the dish. Chefs Irbille and Garrett contributed their knowledge and expertise, and what you get is a congee unlike anything you've had before.

Chef Garrett
Courtesy of Kraken Congee
Congee is a porridge of rice and water cooked to a thick soup consistency. I've seen it most often served as a breakfast item, though I've ordered it at dinner, too.  The beauty and the misery of congee is the simplicity of the ingredients. The key component is the selection of mix-ins or condiments, and they can range from pickled vegetables and century eggs to salted fish or pork, in Cantonese cuisine - and they really make or break it. At Kraken Congee, you'll find Pork Belly Adobo Congee, Tempura-fried Calamari in tamarind-base congee, and Octopus and Kimchi Congee. Like I said: unlike anything you've had before.

Kraken Congee has been open for a little over one year, and it has had a strong following, pretty much from the beginning. On possibly the warmest day of May 2013, Kraken opened its doors in Grub in Queen Anne to a long line of excited Seattlelites and quickly had a full house within the hour. After just two hours, they were practically sold out of everything. Seattle was hooked, and every month after the first pop up, customers have lined up to get congee - even in the summer.

Courtesy of Kraken Congee
After just 9 months of operation, they were invited by CNBC to compete in Restaurant Startup, a new television series that features Joe Bastianich and Tim Love hearing business pitches and choosing to invest start up capital. Kraken was the opening act, and they did quite well, wowing both Joe and Tim with the well-balanced flavors and creative renditions.

The episode, of course, is riddled with drama and is set up to stress the chefs, but with each curveball - yes, there's more than one - the chefs remembered that they were a team of best friends and faced the challenges in a unified way, especially when the opportunity to fight or backstab is presented. the facts that they were edited to look one way and that the show sets obstacles before them at every step make for good television and for an engaging episode.  In the end though, they prevailed!

Chef Irbille
Courtesy of Kraken Congee
Watch the whole episode and other cool articles and media coverage by following the links through Kraken's Facebook page and website.

Can't wait for the monthly pop-ups and eventual brick-and-mortar? Check out Kraken Congee's offerings through the chefs on Lish, the newest Seattle-born home delivery program of chef-created meals. Both Chef Garrett and Chef Shane can be found on the website, where you can download the app and start ordering.

Courtesy of Kraken Congee


Rouxbe Cooking School Live Web Event - IACP President discusses "Finding Your Culinary Path"

A Rouxbe Live Web Event:
IACP President Chef Raghavan Iyer

Raghavan Iyer

Reminder! One more day until the Rouxbe Live Web Event:
IACP President Chef Raghavan Iyer Grab your spot now!

Raghavan Iyer – Finding Your Culinary Path
Wednesday, July 30 at 12:00 PM (PST)

Join Raghavan Iyer and the Rouxbe Cooking School on Wednesday, July 30 for a live event to learn about culinary career paths, leveraging your skill set and 21st century skills for culinary and food professionals. Chef Iyer will share his personal and professional path and answer questions about how to build a career as a culinary professional.

Bombay-born Raghavan Iyer, CCP, is a cookbook author, culinary educator, product development expert, and consultant for numerous national and international clients. He has authored 4 award-winning cookbooks and has contributed to the top food and culinary publications.

Raghavan currently serves as President of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) – a leading organization for culinary professionals in a wide variety of disciplines from around the world. Raghavan won the 2004 IACP Cooking Teacher of the Year and was a Finalist for a 2005 James Beard Journalism Award.

To register for this free event CLICK HERE. Once you have registered, details will be emailed to you the day of the event on how to log in and listen.

Interested in Professional Culinary Certification Online?
Browse our Programs Here.

See you in class!

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This email was sent by: Rouxbe Cooking School
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BC, V5W 1X2, Canada
I borrowed this completely and totally from the Rouxbe website to help promote the course. I hope you can join!


Kitchenbug: "Spicing Up Seattle"

Courtesy of Kitchenbug
As the days of summer start to get warmer and sunnier, how do you pass your time in the sun? I personally love running in the sun along the Olympic Sculpture Park walking trail - full sun and expansive views of the Puget Sound and Seattle's downtown. If I'm not running, I like to keep up with new restaurant news, chef movements, and new recipes developed in or inspired by Seattle. If only there were a way to track the cool things I come across every day...

Enter Kitchenbug. My friend, Keren Brown, shared a new web-based recipe database site that helps track recipes and track the nutrition values of the food we consume. You might think, "Aren't there already websites that have virtual recipe boxes?" The answer is "yes, but..." Kitchenbug doesn't just help you collect recipes from its website - it helps gather them from different websites and works like a website bookmark that doesn't require filling up your Favorites on Bing (my husband was happy when I finally transferred all that information to Kitchenbug.

Anyway, this new site is a fun way to track recipes that you spot all over the great Internet (yes, in capital letters) and want to capture for recipe testing later.

Here's what I've found recently:
Tom Douglas Hot Stove Society
Seattle Magazine Spot Prawn Bruschetta by Chef Holly Smith
Chef Wayne Johnson opens new restaurant in Renton - Shuga Jazz Bistro


Also, don't forget to "like" and "share" this post, because I'm competing with other bloggers to see how many people read our pages! There's a restaurant gift certificate from Kitchenbug in the runnings, so help feed my vice and then join me if we win!


Pork Lettuce Wraps

I found another great recipe for summer grilling on the Whole Foods website - Grilled Teriyaki Pork lettuce wraps. Lettuce wraps are a great way to enjoy a light and fun-yet-messy meal. There are so many ways to enjoy it - Josh and I like to use various Chinese flavored fillings for ours, but you could easily also use Mediterranean flavors and others, too. Get ingredients at your neighborhood Farmers Market and WFM.

Here's Whole Foods' Version: Pork Lettuce Wraps.
Courtesy of Whole Foods Market