News from Le Gourmand

Why I Love Bruce Naftaly

I mean, besides the fact that he invented Northwest Cuisine

By Kathryn Robinson April 1, 2009

Bruce Naftaly just called to tell me he’s finally entered the 21st century. Yep: Le Gourmand got its first website.

I cannot be the only one who finds this seriously charming.

Naftaly has always followed his own star. As a young home cook in the Bay Area he knew which backyard trees had the sweetest oranges and which gardens to raid for the best tomatoes. He arrived in Seattle to study music, wound up being “discovered” as the uber-locavore he was, then gave up music for more culinary arts.

At The Other Place and Les Copains in the 1970’s, he cultivated sources for the seasonal funghi and fish and berries and meats and produce that became his calling card. Seattleites had never encountered food so fresh.

Of course it didn’t hurt that he was also a saucier’s saucier, a skill that came in handy when he opened Le Gourmand in 1985.

Night after night he has wowed diners with Northwest renditions of fathomless French classics. And through the ‘90s, when every other restaurant in the world was learning how to flog itself on the World Wide Web—Naftaly didn’t pay any attention at all. He had other fish to poach. (Northwest fish.)

Until now…a time when even the least of the self-promoters are learning the necessity of publicity.

And even the highest-end culinarians are learning about bargain menus.

“We’ve just added our version of a Recession Menu,” he quipped, adding that diners could still expect the quality—some would call it perfection—they’ve come to depend on from Le Gourmand. Three courses. $45.

I love Bruce Naftaly.

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