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Topic: Charles Walpole

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May 29, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Chefs tell all: How you can become a restaurant VIP

David Chang, whose Momofuku restaurant realm extends from New York to Toronto to Sydney, Australia, has never been known for his softer side. His reputation for shock talk rivals that of Anthony Bourdain. In the May issue of GQ Magazine, the much-lauded, 36-year-old Korean-American chef offered unvarnished advice to diners who aspire to most-favored-customer status in restaurants.

“Would you like priority seating at busy, popular restaurants… servers to remember what you like and don’t… the choicest cuts of meat, the most pristine fish, extra courses on the house?” Chang writes. “Then you want to become a regular—or what we in the business call a PX table, for person extraordinaire. Ultimately, the experience you’re after is ‘soigné.’ That’s chef-speak for culinary perfection from your first drink to your last dessert.”

What are Chang’s tips for soigné-seeking PX wannabes?

“Avoid eating on weekends, when it’s a zoo. The best diners eat Sundays through Thursdays, earlier or later in the evening, so the staff remembers you better…

“Don’t be a (slang for male body part deleted here)….When you become a PX table at one spot, you soon become a known commodity at many others. And if you’re a (male body part) somewhere, they’ll remember you everywhere. Also, don’t do drugs in the bathroom.”

“Order like you know what’s going on…If you request well-done meat and you’re not pregnant, you have no concept of flavor. (Sorry, this is how we think.) If you send a dish back because you think something is ‘off,’ you’re probably wrong. (And the kitchen will hate you for it.) Above all, try dishes from outside of your comfort zone — those are probably the ones the cooks are most proud of.”

How does this advice resonate with Seattle chefs? Read on:

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Comments | Topics: Charles Walpole, David Chang, Derek Ronspies

June 3, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Blind Pig Bistro expands as strip mall meets culinary style

Eastlake photo by Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times

Eastlake photo by Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times

For years, passerbys did double-takes entering one particular restaurant in the little strip mall on Eastlake Avenue. The 22-seat space at 2238 Eastlake Ave. E. has incongruously housed an unbroken chain of some of Seattle’s best and most reasonably priced fine food, from the original Sitka & Spruce to the much-missed Nettletown to current tenants Blind Pig Bistro. (In what might have started the circle of excellence, before Sitka it was the home of Sophie’s Donuts, sharing space with the interim Boat Street Kitchen.)

Often, casual visitors would see a menu listing dishes like halibut cheeks or salads dressed in ramp-ginger vinaigrette or mackerel with chorizo. Then they would slowly back out and head instead to the right or to the left, for more predictable strip mall fare of Subway sandwiches or teriyaki chicken.

Now, though, the culinary balance is shifting. Blind Pig Bistro owners Charles Walpole and Rene Gutierrez are taking over the Eastlake Teriyaki storefront, renaming it Blind Pig at Eastlake Teriyaki. They’re designing it as a place for more casual and takeout-friendly versions of Blind Pig’s focus on “local ingredients with global techniques,” once described as “a menu by chefs for chefs—fresh, unfussy food cooked just right.”

Look for “sandwiches and soups and salads,” said Gutierrez, who will run the new place.

As Blind Pig’s popularity grew, Gutierrez said, customers worried it would outgrow the small space. They would ask “are you going to pack up and move away?” That wasn’t what they wanted to do. “I’d rather stay in one spot and make it work.” When the teriyaki shop closed, they grabbed the opportunity to expand their offerings and add another 18-20 seats.

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Comments | Topics: Blind Pig Bistro, Charles Walpole, Rebekah Denn