Trace, the Restaurant Formerly Known as Earth and Ocean in the W Hotel, has hired the chef de cuisine from Luc to head up its kitchen. The downtown hotel is in the midst of a major remodel that shuttered the restaurant and its first floor public spaces in early December. When the transition to Trace is complete, Steven Ariel will be creating and executing a menu that draws on both the Northwest and the chef’s background growing up in Hawaii and training and cooking in Singapore, Thailand and Tokyo.
The menu’s core will be “traceable, regional, identifiable products from local producers throughout the region,” he says. “Though I’ve been [in Seattle] for six years, I’ve been working mostly in supporting roles; I’m excited to be able to represent myself.”
Before joining Rautureau’s French bistro in early 2011, Ariel, 42, was sous chef at Holly Smith’s Café Juanita, and executive sous chef at Canlis. A native of Hawaii’s Big Island (he grew up on a macadamia nut and coffee farm), he also spent 11 years working for Alan Wong, one of the Aloha state’s major culinary heavy hitters, and was chef de cuisine at Wong’s Honolulu restaurant The Pineapple Room. Ryan Loo, the most recent chef at Earth and Ocean, will serve as the hotel’s executive chef, meaning there’s a lot of Hawaii pride going on in that kitchen.
Earth and Ocean was known as the training ground for some of the city’s best-known chefs, including Lark’s John Sundstrom and Maria Hines of Tilth and Golden Beetle. Before they became a singular entity, chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough also met while cooking here. The new incarnation (which matches the Trace-branded restaurants at other W locations) opens its doors in early March.