Jason Stratton—the former executive chef of Spinasse, Mamnoon, and mBar, not to mention a Top Chef alum—has found himself a new kitchen. And, perhaps, a surprising one: Stratton is now cooking at Standard Brewing, the small Central District brewery that’s served casual, but detail-oriented fare ever since owner Justin Gerardy expanded the operation into a proper brewpub a few years back.
Stratton’s about three weeks in; he's still orienting himself, but has begun running some weekend specials, like a lamb sloppy joe and a green gumbo with duck. He expects about half the menu to remain as is. “It’s a pretty cool little program,” he says. “It’s a tiny little kitchen; you feel like you’re in a taco truck.” That’s also because Stratton’s been busy making actual tacos. They're the focus of Standard’s current menu, filled with everything from fried catfish to smoked pork butt, to smoked carrots with sesame and lemon butter.
Just over a year ago, Stratton left his longtime post as mBar to consult, namely on a longtime Italian cafe in Portland called 3 Doors Down. He split his time between Portland and Seattle until the pandemic hit, then continued working remotely. Most of 2020 found him pitching in for friends here and there—helping out with the Community Kitchen Collective, or subbing over at the Doctors Office. After a while, “I was looking to be back in a kitchen again,” says the chef. He liked the idea of engaging with regulars, and was impressed with Standard’s safety protocols, a very real consideration in this moment.
Stratton’s excited to cook “really delicious grandma food” in his tiny environs. While he helmed—and helped define—some of Seattle’s most impressive kitchens, it’s obviously a challenging moment for finer dining. “Being able to just get food in people’s hands that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg is very appealing to me right now.” Given Stratton's history in kitchens with an overarching style of cuisine, this gig weirdly affords one of Seattle’s most creative chefs a certain level of chill freedom. Gerardy’s only directive was to make delicious food that pairs with beer.
As Stratton gets a sense of what takeout and patio customers are into, he expects the menu to morph a bit and become more seasonal. And yes, you can expect influences from his past roles in Middle Eastern and pasta-centric kitchens to surface in some capacity: “Italian food is definitely my foundation. But I look at the staples in my pantry now, and if I don’t have yogurt, I freak out.”