Constantly on display thanks to Tanglewood Supreme’s open layout, Jeffrey Kessenich runs a quiet and efficient kitchen. The small, 35-seat seafood bistro just celebrated its one-year anniversary, and Kessenich continues to take the “fisherman-to-table” philosophy seriously. “I don’t use middle men. I personally know the person who catches our salmon.” And they do catch a lot of salmon—Kessenich’s kitchen runs through 25-30 pounds a week.
After graduating culinary school and moving to Seattle, Kessenich worked at Brasa and Mona’s Bistro before taking the lead at Tanglewood Supreme. To see the variety of dishes he can create with salmon (or octopus, or albacore), snag one of the seven seats at the counter and get an up-close view of his fresh and seasonal creations.
Here, a few of Jeffrey Kessenich’s favorite things:
Dish to make at home: Pain au chocolat. It's rare that I have time to enjoy making a proper, laminated dough at the restaurant, but it's a lovely process to undertake with some music and a bottle of wine at home.
Item on the Tanglewood Supreme menu: Everything! As I like to tell our guests, the dishes are like my children—don't make me pick favorites.
Banned from your kitchen: Egos and processed food. Both leave a bad taste in my mouth.
Fish/seafood to work with: True to the Pacific Northwest: salmon. I especially enjoy King Salmon caught from cold, Alaskan waters. The versatility of the fish is unmatched; it can be treated as a delicate fillet, as a hearty steak, in raw preparations, and everything in between.
Three things on your countertop right now: Sumac, butter, and sunflower seeds.
Can't live without: Coffee. Life just wouldn't be worth it.
Place to drink on a day off: C & P Coffee in West Seattle to feed my addiction.
Guilty pleasure: Ice Cream. Copious amounts of ice cream.
People I'd like to cook with [and why]: Thomas Keller. His books have inspired me throughout my career.
Designing a seafood-focused menu is... complicated. Sourcing seafood that is local, sustainable, and of top quality is incredibly challenging. At Tanglewood Supreme, we use our seafood the day of or the next day; after that, it's a staff meal. This means all of our seafood items have to sell quickly and consistently while displaying a variety of completely different preparations.
Craziest work story that can be committed to print: About 30 minutes into a busy Friday night at Brasa, already down one cook, my sauté cook was struggling to crisp the skin on Sablefish. He had wrecked six orders and five more came in behind them on the rail. He walked over to me, said he couldn't do it, and left. I had to expedite and work sauté alone while we rang out over a hundred covers with three people cooking. We made it.