Last year, Matt’s in the Market owner Dan Bugge and then-chef Chester Gerl contacted prominent chefs up and down the West Coast and put together a dinner series called Planes, Trains, and Traveling Chefs, celebrating the pair's five-year anniversary with the restaurant.
Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon came. So did Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker, and San Francisco superstar chefs Ryan Farr and Dominique Crenn. At Vikram Vij’s dinner, the chef dropped a juicy hint or two about the restaurant his wife was planning over in South Lake Union. It’s the sort of big-name, intimate experience that usually comes with a ton of hype and buzz—but because this dinner series was new, the buzz hadn't quite caught up.
One year later, Bugge has a new head chef, Shane Ryan, in the kitchen, and Planes, Trains, and Traveling Chefs is back for a second year. And…wow. The lineup reaches way beyond the West Coast and spans a variety of cuisines. And if you’re the type who geeks out on national chef awards, these names should be very familiar.
The series returns Monday, June 10, with Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Café in St. Louis (the site of one Champagne-fueled college graduation dinner for yours truly back in 2001) who connected with Bugge via a fervent recommendation from Lowcountry rock star Sean Brock.
Next up: Top Chef alum and highly legit New York chef Dale Talde will take things in an Asian direction. Rob Newton from Brooklyn's Seersucker fulfilled Bugge and Ryan’s desire for a Southern menu, and Minneapolis chef Jamie Malone was a Food and Wine Best New Chef this year and does the sort of amazing sustainable seafood at her restaurant Sea Change that people assume we must (and should) have on every street corner in Seattle. Portland’s Jenn Louis of Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern comes up for the August 19 finale.
“This year it’s more about the market,” says Bugge. “We wanted to spread out around the country and bring chefs in here who know what it’s like to have a market in their respective area.”
The only repeat from last year is Gabriel Rucker, a man some of you might recognize from his frequent appearances at the winners podium at the James Beard Awards. “He led us off last year and set the bar so high,” says Bugge. “We had a lot of fun—other than the fifth of whiskey we drank at my house the night before dinner.” Ouch.
Here’s the schedule for the Planes, Trains, and Traveling Chefs dinners. Dinner begins at 6 with bites and mingling with Ryan and the chef guest of honor (the two collaborate on the night's menu). The seated, six-course dinner starts at 6:30. Tickets run $175 per person, including wines but excluding tax and tip. Buy all six and the price is $150 apiece (industry peeps get a special rate as well). Call 206-467-7909 to reserve.