Garrett Michael Brown was once a musical theater actor in New York. The logical career move from there: cooking, of course. These days he's the executive chef at The Garage where he recently transformed the bowling and billiards hall menu to reflect more of a scratch approach.
After deciding he wanted a job with a more stable paycheck, Brown headed to culinary school in Seattle. Since then, he's worked at Harvest Vine, 35th Street Bistro, and Verve Bistro and Cellar, which he says was the most ideal cooking environment. "We had something really special there," he says. Verve closed its doors in 2011 and since then Brown has moved between a few Seattle restaurants in search of a working environment much like Verve's.
Brown believes he's found the perfect place at the Garage, where he's cooking up handmade sausages, beet salad, and rustic handmade pizzas, to name a few. And since Brown retooled the menu, he says food sales at the Garage have increased by 40 percent. Meanwhile, the Garage recently redesigned its patio and is playing with the idea of having a weekend grill and oyster bar next summer, along with revamping the kitchen and dining area to double the kitchen size.
Here, a few of Garrett Michael Brown's favorite things:
Dish to make at home: Barbecue, like ribs and pulled pork. My kamado pot and I are inseparable.
Dish to impress: A whole roasted suckling pig.
Item that will definitely be on your menu in the future at the Garage: Blasted brussels sprouts, Wagyu burgers, and duck pizzas.
Secret ingredient: Piment d'espelette. It's this great spicy, dried, and ground red pepper from the Basque region. I put it on everything.
Food goes best with bowling and billiards when it’s… Delicious, but not saucy/greasy enough to mess up your cue stick or make the bowling ball slip off your fingers. We get asked all the time about nachos and chicken wings, but we don't serve them for those very reasons. Well, those and because greasy foods can stain the felt on the tables. Can you imagine the labor cost of cleaning buffalo sauce out of bowling ball finger holes every night?
Best part of your job: The great people at the Garage. Terrifically supportive ownership group and a very hard-working and committed kitchen staff. I'm very, very lucky.
First thing ever cooked: Baked bologna-egg-cup things I made in a cupcake tin.
Most memorable kitchen disaster: On the advice of my legal representation, I choose at this time to invoke my Fifth amendment rights on the grounds that I may incriminate myself. But it involved a stockpot of hot fryer oil and a butane lighter.
Most underrated lunch or dinner spot: El Camion in Ballard on the corner of 15th and 65th. They had a food truck up on Aurora for years that I frequented, but their new brick-and-mortar is out of this world.
Dish you wish people ordered more: The smoked pork spare ribs with peach-bacon dipping sauce—they're outstanding.
Guilty pleasure: I could live very happily on spicy Cheez-Its, barbecue potato chips, and ice cream for the rest of my life.
Dish or cuisine you haven’t yet perfected: All of them. There's no such things as perfect, just a constant learning process. I will say though, I find Asian cuisine to be tremendously challenging to do correctly. There's something other than just the ingredients; there's a balance or feel there that I haven't tackled yet.
Do differently from other chefs: I have no idea. We're all passionate about our trade or we certainly wouldn't be doing this for a living. I do a lot of whole-animal butchery...I don't know how common that is.
Cookbook or Food Blog: Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook. Hank Shaw is brilliant and I'd give up a lot to hunt or fish and cook with him, just once.
Craziest work story that can be committed to print: First Friday night at the Garage with the new menu and we were so flooded with orders that the end of the ticket roll hit the floor four times. We had to open the second kitchen just to accommodate the orders of fries. I've never been so scared that a line was going down, and it was my new menu so I felt awful. But we pulled together and got it done. I think it turned out to be a bonding experience.