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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

February 5, 2009 at 7:26 AM

Bravo! Seattle chef sets sail. Others cast about for “Top Chef” job

When it comes to finding work, sometimes a man’s got to do what a man’s go to do, as today’s front-page headline and the accompanying photo sadly makes clear:

Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times

Proving that point, Jefe Birkner, late of the late Austin Cantina (soon to reopen as Ballard’s umpteenth sushi bar) is hitting the high seas for a new adventure: cooking on the National Geographic Sea Bird — for cruise ship-guests sailing the seven seas. Next week, he’ll be joining whale watchers in Baja, not as the ship’s top chef, but as “second in command” as he describes it on his blog. Sounds like fun, huh? Clearly, Jefe’s not so sure, but it beats the alternative, as he explains:

“It has been a terrifically difficult time with the U.S. having more people on unemployment than ever before in history, and even that doesn’t include failed business owners (like me) who are not eligible for unemployment. . . .[the two month gig] doesn’t pay very well but compared to losing money month after month over the past year and a half it will pay my mortgage, and if all goes well lead to a better position within the company. I haven’t been `on the road’ for more than 2 weeks at a time in years, and though I’ve slept on boats, I’ve never spent the night, and never been on a cruise ship. I hope that I was hired with a recognition for my skills and experience and an awareness that I’d need to learn some about cooking on a crusie ship before being given FULL responsibility to run the show.”

Meanwhile, other local “Top Chef” wannabes will have their opportunity to show their skills — to the nation. But first, they’ve got to do as Jefe did: apply for the job. They’ll find a how-to right here on the Bravo network Web-site. The application deadline for Season Six of “Top Chef” is March 20th. Wanna be a contender? On Wednesday, February 11, from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m., Bravo’s holding an open casting-call at that famous room-with-a-view, Canlis. They’ll be looking for chefs “with a passion for food, creativity, a knowledge of cooking techniques and trends and oodles of charisma.”

And here’s what I’m looking for: “Top Chef” suggestions. Hey, Eaters, know anybody who fits the bill? Tell me, do. Millions of TV viewers are standing by to see the face that will launch a thousand Chips Ahoy! commercials.

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