Sleek Chinese restaurant Bako opened October 5, and just six weeks later, there’s a new chef in the kitchen. Owner Keeman Wong says that Chris Michel took over a week ago. Michel previously served as executive chef at two of Eric Banh’s spots: Monsoon East and, for a time, Ba Bar. He also reportedly worked with Mark Fuller as lead cook at Spring Hill.
Wong noted that Michel’s time with Banh means he’s no stranger to the wok and “brings this whole level of elegance that I love.” The chef’s background alone also makes him a logical fit for Bako’s genteel Cantonese-influened menu. His predecessor, Augusto Caudillo, came to Seattle from the Santa Barbara area, where he worked as a private chef and at an Irish gastropub.
The shakeup came about through a Bako server who previously worked at Monsoon, says Wong. “I just saw an opportunity to grab this guy who I know is really talented.” He had kind things to say about his opening chef, though obviously restaurants don’t switch things up after less than two months if everyone is thrilled with how things are going.
Though Caudillo seemed an unconventional choice for the restaurant, I enjoyed the food at Bako on the three occasions I dined there. But early glowing reports from three different regulars (who are, for the record, closely aligned with the restaurant) indicate Michel’s presence is already apparent on the menu.
Wong and his new chef are busy recalibrating some dishes—sigh of relief: the spectacular eight treasure rice will remain, but topped with a fried egg rather than poached—and developing some new dishes as well.