Like getting the band back together again, a trio of former Lark chefs are coming together on June 16 for a collaboration dinner at the Bite Box on Queen Anne. Aaron Tekulve, who's been running his Surrell Dinner popup and catering biz since 2011, has enlisted the talent of Mitch Mayers and Ben Campbell for a pretty fun-yet-focused nine-course meal.
But this popup is as much a reunion as it is a collaboration of tastes. See, these guys go way back.
Tekulve and Campbell met back in culinary school in Seattle some six years ago, and later found themselves cooking alongside each other at the original Lark location on 12th Avenue. Not long after, Mayers joined the crew as a co–sous chef with Tekulve in the Lark kitchen where the pair "operated as chef John Sundstrom's right and left hands," said Tekulve. Meanwhile, Campbell was developing the restaurant's burgeoning bread program. The trio, a longtime core of the lauded Capitol Hill restaurant, all helped the opening of its second iteration down on Union.
After Lark, though, they've since gone their separate ways: Mayers is on the heels of opening a restaurant of his own, Sawyer, in Ballard this summer; Campbell is the head baker at Renee Erickson's at Rana e Rospo and owns Ben’s Bread; Tekulve runs his aforementioned Surrell dinners.
But come June 16, they're back in the kitchen collaborating on quite the popup and it looks mighty promising.
It's Pacific Northwest cuisine with a wink. Campbell's tackling the first three bites: chicken liver pate doughnut, his play on "Cheez-its," and salmon rillette. Mayers follows that with a parmesan churro with walnut pesto, 63-degree egg, cream, peas, and basil. Then Campbell's back at bat, and as the "grain nerd" of the bunch is doling out sprouted purple barley bread with brown butter. Vegetables? Oh yes, this is the optimal way to get your daily serving via Tekulve spring vegetables course with goat's milk, burnt hay, chicken skin, and tarragon—all this brought to you by a guy who reads medical papers on olive oil.
What else to expect: duck tamales, braised octopus with smoked pork and fish sauce caramel, durum ciabatta with compressed strawberries and ricotta, wood sorrell granita with lemon cream and olive oil (this is where Tekulve's research really pays off surely), and a chocolate and peanut butter dessert.
That's the kind of menu born from friendship—getting slammed with a hundred diners per night also solidifies a sort of camaraderie. When you've cooked shoulder to shoulder for the better part of year under the watch of John Sundstrom, trust kicks in. "It's rare that you can find that person that you never worry about what they do," said Tekulve.
And with that, you might want to jump on this; there are only about 20 seats available for this cozy multicourse dinner. Tickets are $115.
Chef Collaboration Dinner
The Bite Box, 307 S McGraw St, 7:30pm, $115