“So far, so good,” said Mark Fuller late last summer, when I asked how things were going at his new West Seattle restaurant and bar, Spring Hill. And things were going pretty great last last week when the Star Chef took a break from feeding his signature wood-grilled spot prawns with creamy grits to a crowd during Seattle’s “Rising Star Chefs Revue” at McCaw Hall. But today Fuller’s in NYC — where he was anointed one of Food & Wine Magazine’s 2009 Best New Chefs in America — an honor that will win him a trip to the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and cover-boy status in July.
“It’s just been amazing,” said Fuller, speaking by phone today while standing in the cold outside Mary’s Fish Camp, where he’d just eaten a razor clam roll, before attending the 21st annual awards gala at City Winery. “It hasn’t quite hit me yet,” he said — despite the fact that he’s known about the honor for a month.
Fuller and his wife and business partner, Marjorie, arrived in NYC Monday and have since been on a whirlwind tour of the city that doesn’t sleep. “They took us to dinner last night at [Food & Wine editor] Dana Cowin’s apartment,” — which, in case you were wondering, was “cozy, with a nice view of the city.” They also went to Dovetail, to Crif Dogs for deep-fried hotdogs, and paid a visit to a speakeasy (I’d tell you where, but then they’d have to kill him).
Late last night Fuller lifted a cocktail or three with his fellow Best New Chefs from across the nation — including Portland’s Naomi Pomeroy of Beast, known in some circles as the ex-wife of a certain well-publicized Seattleite. And this morning the chefs convened for a big-time photo shoot: we’ll get to see the result in July. “It was all white on white, with us dressed in our chefs coats. I was holding a white ceramic pitcher,” said Fuller. “At first it was awkward, but it was really painless and fun, I enjoyed it.”
They’ll be more fun in the coming hours as he and the other up-and-comers officially receive their awards, hobnob with the fooderati, drink fine wine and eat nibbles prepared by past winners — among them David Chang of Momofuku (’06), Scott Conant of Scarpetta (’04), Michael Psilakis of Anthos (’08) and Laurent Tourondel of BLT Restaurants (’98). “After the party, I’m probably going to catch up with my pillow,” said Fuller, who comes home tomorrow. “But who knows, I’ll probably be up all night!”