Shift Change

3 Big Chef Shuffles to Know About

Jeffrey Vance, Cam Hanin, and Mike Whisenhunt are all making moves.

By Rosin Saez May 17, 2019

Chefs Jeffrey Vance (left) and Cam Hanin (right) at the RAICES fundraiser at Navy Strength.

Three chefs who helm some of Seattle's best restaurants right now are making changes, so we checked to see what's on the horizon.

Cam Hanin

Supreme, Ma‘ono

At the end of May, chef Cam Hanin will exit the kitchen, or kitchens, rather. He's helped hold down many a Mark Fuller restaurant—Ma'ono and its fast casual fried chicken counter offspring, two Supreme pizzeria openings—and has shaped some of those spots' beloved and deliciously wacky dishes. Hanin devised a pizza loaded with fried chicken breast, kimchi, and melty American cheese squares; it's basically the manifestation of Supreme and Ma'ono in pizza form. He also crafted a shockingly great ranch dressing-slash-dip that he says was "a labor of love." (I wasn't one to dunk pizza in ranch, but I am a convert now.) But for all his culinary contributions and gigs—he's worked in fine dining, he's worked in fast casual—Hanin's never worked for himself...until now. He's starting Guerilla Pizza Kitchen which will serve as a popup (also available for events and catering) and a take-and-bake operation. No popup dates announced just yet, but you can be sure Hanin's skilled yet playful cooking ethos will live on. Other things: "focusing on family," he says, plus helping out chef-friends like the folks behind Gola's Kitchen and Melissa Miranda, who's readying her Beacon Hill restaurant. Hanin says he'll also be baking bread, presumably that fluffy Japanese milk bread aka shoku pan, for Alessandra Hisako Gordon, jam whisperer at Ayako and Family.

Jeffrey Vance

No Anchor, Navy Strength 

This one stings a bit: chef Jeffrey Vance will be moving to LA next month and thus leaving Seattle's dining scene altogether. Vance was named a Seattle Met Next Hot Chef in 2017 for food that's as inventive and impressive as it is beautiful and tasty, and has since put No Anchor, Chris Elford and Anu Apte-Elford's "weird beer" bar, on the culinary map getting recognized by the likes of the James Beard Foundation. And he didn't merely captain No Anchor's menu, but next door at sibling tiki bar Navy Strength, he embraced both midcentury comfort food and a globe’s worth of flavors. In his stead, Vance says he's installed two incredible young talents. Jaimon Westing (formerly at the Willows Inn and Castagna in Portland, two culinary bastions) has taken the lead at No Anchor, while Alexus Williams is running things at Navy Strength. Vance is keeping his own plans slightly under wraps, but the chef says he may help out some friends in the kitchen in LA or do some line cooking. He won't be taking a chef job anywhere, though, as he's taking this time to focus on opening up someplace of his own in LA. "It will definitely be a chef driven place using market produce, while trying to change the restaurant business model to something more welcoming and sustainable," says Vance. A noble, ambitious cause! We can't wait to keep tabs on what develops, even if it's happening a thousand miles away.

Mike Whisenhunt

Central Smoke

A year ago this month, Vietnamese steak house Seven Beef announced its new direction: still meaty, but smokier. The new concept, Central Smoke, dialed back the finer dining aspects and recast itself as a barbecue-foward joint with a solid cocktail menu to go with it. Chef Mike Whisenhunt (Brimmer and Heeltap, Joule) was to lead the smoky endeavor. But co-owner Eric Banh has confirmed that, indeed, executive chef Mike Whisenhunt has moved on as of early May. (Whisenhunt had previously confirmed as well.) There's no official comment on the reason behind Whisenhunt's departure, but Banh assures that the smoked meats continue: head chef Charles Franks, who's worked at Cafe Campagne, Monsoon (another Eric and Sophie Banh restaurant), and China Pie, is in charge of the kitchen along with sous chef Levi Nichols.
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