Behind the Scenes Interviews

Welcome, Corporate Chef Nick!

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We are so excited to welcome Corporate Chef Nick into the Bargreen Ellingson family! Read below to learn more about his background and why he is so excited to join the team.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I moved to Seattle in ’86 – it seems like a thousand years ago now – and moved here from Boise, ID where I was studying music performance in classical viola. I was cooking at the time so I came to Seattle to finish my degree in music performance and conducting. I waited a year to get my residency to go to the University of Washington and then got into school and started studying again. I quickly realized, however, that as much as I enjoyed music – and still do and still play – that it wasn’t my calling. I didn’t have the motivation and the self-discipline, so I dropped out of school and focused all of my energy on my job, which was in restaurants at the time. I had always worked in restaurants so I started working my way up the ladder in the Seattle restaurant scene.

I worked at the Rusty Pelican Restaurant for three years as a line cook and then became the kitchen manager. From there, I moved to McCormick’s and Schmick’s and worked there for 3.5 years as a sous chef. I took a break from the kitchen and worked in the front of the house for awhile and did a little more schooling in design. I spent some time doing design and art which has contributed to my cooking in terms of the visual side of things. 

I had the opportunity to become the head chef at Yarrow Bay Grill and Beach Cafe in Kirkland, WA. I got my own menu there because there were three restaurants within that umbrella and I was in charge of keeping the main kitchen operational for all three kitchens. The Beach Cafe was my menu and that’s where I really started focusing on my culinary voice. A chef that I worked with for several years was instrumental in helping me discover my own voice. I did that for another 4 years and then I became the Chef de Cuisine at Flying Fish. I stayed there for three years and then was asked to become the chef at Icon Grill and spent nearly 20 years there. Within the last 8-10 years at Icon, I became the Corporate Executive Chef because we opened multiple stores and then took over the reins as both district manager and general manager. 

Did you take any culinary training or are you self-taught?

I’m all self-taught. No classical training other than the folks that I worked with along the way. The one chef I mentioned was a mentor and she had been trained under an Austrian chef. From her, I learned a lot of the classical stuff that I would have learned in school. I spent most of my time learning on the job.

People ask how I can be at work cooking all day and then come home to cook. I’m the primary person who cooks at home – my wife and I have been together for almost thirty years and she hardly cooks and doesn’t enjoy it in the kitchen. I tell them because I enjoy cooking! I jokingly tell people that I’m cooking on my way home because I know what’s in my fridge and I’m already thinking about what I’m going to make.

What are you most excited about for this position? 

There are so many opportunities for what we can do. I feel I’m a good teacher and a good manager, so it’s a great opportunity to be able to educate salespeople or clients in terms of using equipment or helping them find a better use of their kitchen space or designing a kitchen space. I have a lot of experience in my ability to do that. 

I’m just excited to be here. To walk into a company and see the culture – it’s so great here. The team effort and seeing how happy people are here… I love that. I’m excited to be a part of that. 

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