Like many a chef before him, Seth Richardson found himself cooking (or, technically, frying) because he was broke. On the bright side, those monetary woes led to his current role at the helm of Skillet Diner.
Richardson, an Oregon Coast native, originally intended to become a videographer, but ended up dropping out of the Art Institute of Seattle to become a commercial fisherman in Alaska. Then he ended up manning the fryer at a Seattle Gameworks location, a role he regards as a painful memory, though it did kick off a culinary career that included sous chef positions at local companies like Chow Foods and Blueacre Seafood.
Since landing at Skillet, Richardson dishes out the diner’s signature delicious, food coma-inducing American classics like fluffy waffles and grilled cheese, but has made his mark on the menu (and impressed founder Joshua Henderson and company chef Brian O’Connor) with dishes like chilaquiles and red beans and rice. And apparently he’ll kick your mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing to the curb.
Here, a few of Seth Richardson’s favorite things:
Dish to make at home: Beef stroganoff, something incredibly comforting about it, reminds me of when I was a kid.
Dish to impress guests: One thing I make at home that everyone loves is stuffing. I don’t know what I do special to make it great but everyone always says “don’t tell my mom but this is way better than hers.”
First dish ever made: My mom informs me that I made a cake for my parents’ anniversary when I was 7 years old from a recipe I got from a Disney cookbook. I think she’s lying to me.
First kitchen job: Gameworks in downtown Seattle. Every day I came into work was like slamming my head against a wall for 8 hours.
Favorite dish at Skillet: My current favorite dish is our chicken-fried steak. It’s a lot different than most chicken fried steaks people have had. It’s a four-day process to make and pain in the ass, but the end result is worth it.
Bacon is . . . : Clogging my arteries.
Secret ingredient: The secret ingredient…is love.
Banned from Skillet: Skillet is an Aerosmith- and Led Zeppelin-free zone. Enough said.
Guilty pleasure: I have a crazy love for really bad '80s horror movies. I grew up watching them and still love them. Re-animator, Sleepaway Camp, The Thing. They're all great.
Hangover remedy: More booze. Preferably tequila.
Place to eat on a day off: Somewhere I haven’t been to yet.
Recently splurged on: Nothing. I’m saving up to buy a house.
On the wish list: Time off from work. But that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon.
Can't live without: My specific pair of tongs. All the cooks I’ve worked with know not to touch my tongs. Even when cooks would come in for working interviews the first thing I would say, “Rule 1: Don’t touch my f#ucking tongs." There's something special about those tongs.
Completely overrated dining trend: Edible flowers. Very pretty on the plate, but that’s about it.
Work outfit: Apron, bandana, and a smile. That’s it… and some other clothes.
Breakfast dish: Tocino, it’s a Filipino dish I learned to make in Alaska. It’s pork shoulder marinated in soy, OJ, brown sugar, rum, and red food coloring (the red food coloring is traditional; I use beet juice). Served with white rice and eggs. Great for a hangover, when you don’t have more booze to cure it.
Lunch spot: Kau Kau in the ID. Best roast duck and char siu in town.
Cookbook: Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman. I read it for the first time five years ago, and somehow I keep coming back to it for reference when I do charcuterie.
People I’d like to cook with: Martin Picard. He’s the chef-owner at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal. His food is way over the top. I’d love to cook with him.
Underrated lunch spot? Philadelphia Fevre on John and Madison. One of the best Philly Cheesesteaks in town.
Music in the kitchen? '80s butt rock. Or anything by Hall and Oates.
Craziest Skillet story that can be committed to print: Every day is a new crazy adventure.