It may be hard to believe, but Spinasse’s Chef de Cuisine Stuart Lane says he once was a picky eater. However, inspiration from TV show Great Chefs of the World, culinary school in Italy, and a staging stint where he made tortellini by the thousands helped him develop a flair for food. “Cooking is a passion you develop. You immerse yourself," he says.
Since starting in the restaurant industry after college, Lane has worked at various Seattle-area restaurants, coming over with Jason Stratton from Cafe Juanita to be Spinasse’s sous chef, then becoming executive chef at Tom Douglas’s Cuoco. He’s recently moved back to his old stomping grounds at Spinasse (as Carrie Mashaney prepares to focus on Aragona) where he hopes to use his freedom for creativity and move the menu towards more local and organic fare. "I love working with everyone at Spinasse," he says. "There's so much room for innovation and so much respect for food in the kitchen."
Although Lane would like to open his own restaurant in the future, he says he's most happy when he's helping facilitate the expansion or openings of his friends' restaurants.
Here, a few of Stuart Lane's favorite things:
Last thing you cooked at home: Grilled pork chops with basil pesto and new potatoes.
Favorite item on Spinasse’s menu: Right now, I love the cavatelli with morel ragu. It's just so comforting and delicious.
Banned from your kitchen: I’m not a big fan of black licorice, my wife loves it though so it's definitely not banned.
Returning to Spinasse is… It’s interesting to see what’s changed and what hasn’t, and to also see the evolution of Jason’s style.
First dish ever made: Probably helping my mother make chocolate chip cookies as a child. And by help I mean holding the bag of chocolate chips for her and licking the paddle.
Dish you haven’t yet perfected: I am a total neophyte when it comes to the totality of Chinese cuisine but I’m fascinated by it. Chinese dumplings are something I’d love to perfect.
Secret ingredient: I don’t really have a constant go-to, I guess I put bay in most things.
Most memorable kitchen disaster: I cut my finger cutting butter before a big event. I soldiered through but I probably should have stopped and gotten stitches. I had to talk my friend through boning out quail while keeping it intact. It was a little tricky.
Food you wish you could make more of: Whoops, same answer—Chinese.
Three things on your home kitchen counter right now: A blender, a coffee maker, and a soda stream.
Best advice ever received: I've received so much good advice. One of the best would be, “Sometimes you have to protect people from themselves.”
Can’t live without: When I'm feeling fancy, it's sparkling water.
On the wish list: A juicer or a longer ceramic knife.
If you weren’t a chef, you would be: I’d probably try to do something in the sports world. Either a job in radio or print.
Craziest work story that can be committed to print: I don’t have too many crazy work stories. I used to work on Bainbridge Island for a short time, and the first day I worked there the power went out. On top of that, on the last day of my first week the power and gas went out on the same night in the middle of Saturday night’s service. It was a crazy scramble. We were opening doors, cooking with little portable lights, and only making salads. The electricity eventually went back on, but we were starting from zero with an entire dining room wanting their food at the same time.