Marination chef Josh Kelly’s plan to embark on a tour of the U.S. was doomed. When his car broke down for the second time just outside of Bend, the Seattle native took a job washing dishes at a local restaurant to pay for the repairs. By some stroke of luck, Kelly was dragged to the kitchen as a stand-in when the restaurant’s line cook was suddenly fired. Management thought he was a natural.
From there, Kelly ended up in New Orleans (yes, he followed a girl), and his time cooking at 201 Restaurant and Bar in the French Quarter solidified his desire to be a chef. After making his way back to the Pacific Northwest, he landed at Portland restaurant Wildwood, then headed north to spend six years in the kitchen at Dahlia Lounge.
After Kelly moved on to an, ahem, less-than-ideal job, his friend and fellow New Orleans chef Bo Maisano (now at the newly opened Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen) connected him with Marination, where he has been running the kitchen for both Station and Mobile for the last eight months, exuding that same unabashed joy that makes this operation seem more like a boisterious summer camp with Korean tacos than an actual (growing) business. Just don’t use the word “meal” around this crew.
Here, a few of Josh Kelly's favorite things:
Dish to make at home: Soups, all kinds of soups.
Dish to impress guests: Posole. It’s a little bit different every time I make it, but our company always enjoys it.
First dish ever made: Over easy eggs and pancakes. I fact checked this with my mother.
Favorite Marination menu item: Miso ginger chicken taco with extra Nunya sauce. I could eat one of these almost every day. As a matter of fact, I do.
Pork belly is . . . 1. Trendy 2. Overused 3. Delicious
Secret ingredient: It’s not a secret, but I use parsley a lot.
Banned from Marination: The use of the word “meal." It makes the Marination team crazy or maybe I should say crazier.
Guilty pleasure: Two corn dogs with yellow mustard and a Dr. Pepper
Hangover remedy: Two corn dogs with yellow mustard and a Dr. Pepper
Place to eat on a day off: Lately I’ve been going to Fonda la Catrina. Everything about this place is great, especially the puerco en salsa verde and the margaritas.
Post-work bar: Wow! I’m not sure I have the time to list all my favorite post-work bars. A couple of old favorites would be Shorty’s and The Funhouse. Shadowland in West Seattle is probably my all time favorite though.
Recently splurged on: Last month I had all my knives professionally sharpened… never had this done before and I’m quite pleased.
On the wish list: A Gold Medal waffle dog maker. If you are not familiar with this particular piece of equipment, you should Google it. Pure genius.
Can't live without: My slotted fish spatula.
Work outfit: Shorts and a Marination T shirt, if I have a clean or close to clean one available.
Breakfast dish: The Red Eye at Meander's in West Seattle. It is also a great alternative to two corn dogs with yellow mustard and a Dr. Pepper.
Lunch spot: Café Presse. This is by far my favorite restaurant in Seattle. The grilled sardine sandwich en baguette and the salad verte with a Kronenbourg or two is my go-to order.
Cookbook: For reference I use Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages by Stanley and Adam Marianski a lot. For pure aesthetics, I like Pork and Sons by Stephane Reynaud. The photos, the stories, the drawings, the cover, the layout and everything else about this book is inspiring.
People I'd like to cook with: Larry the Cable Guy, Carrot Top and Pauly Shore. Because I like to be the best cook and funniest person in the room.
Food shop: Viet Wah.
Music in the kitchen? Everybody gets a turn. This can be good or bad. Often bad, sometimes good.
Craziest Marination story: I know it’s lame, but I don’t have any crazy stories yet. However, I did destroy the right, rear hubcap the first time I drove the truck. Every day is an adventure on the Marination truck, so stay tuned, crazy story coming soon.