Larkin Young Gives Diners a NW Gastrogasm

Skelly and the Bean’s incubator series welcomes a longtime force in some prominent local kitchens.

By Allecia Vermillion June 14, 2012

Young (shown here in his Tilth days) pops up Tuesday night at Skelly and the Bean. Photo via Facebook.

If one were in the habit of betting on which of the current crop of sous chefs will be tomorrow’s big-time chefs, Larkin Young’s name would enter the conversation pretty quickly. After years as Maria Hines’s right-hand guy (even appearing with her on Iron Chef America), Young struck out to open his own place, then ended up spending a year in the kitchen at RN74. Now he’s in transition, tracking a few potential chef gigs, and planning an incubator dinner next week at Skelly and the Bean.

The June 19 meal, entitled NW Gastrogasm, is indeed an, um, exciting roundup of regional bounty, with some decidedly Northwest flourishes. “I could try to keep it simple and put a few bucks in my pocket, or I could show people what I’m all about,” says Young. “I went with the latter.”

What Young is all about, apparently, is seasonal dishes with a dash of the philosophical. Like English pea vichyssoise made with pea shoots, garlic, and snails—all things that could come from your garden—puffed rice and a wood sorrel gel that adds acidity and another green-leaning flavor. And Neah Bay halibut, poached in oil and served with grilled romaine to add texture and char, as well as sea beans and goose tongue (a wild sea grass) Young found while hiking along the Hood Canal. The full menu is listed on the ticket site; the $45 dinner includes four courses, plus an amuse and a mignardise, fine-dining niceties that remain relatively rare in Seattle.

Young still hopes to open his own place one day, and plans to call it Spoon, but for now he says he’s "just ready to start making amazing food." After spending so many years executing other chefs’ visions, he says, “I’m ready to take the next step to run a kitchen; I think I have enough stuff under my belt where I think I’d be able to make my mark on Seattle’s culinary scene."

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