As the Pacific Northwest prepares for summer, Kirkland’s already diverse culinary landscape welcomes the contemporary cuisine of Executive Chef Frank Rog.
A newcomer to the region but far from a newcomer in the kitchen, Chef Frank’s innovative techniques and love for local, seasonal ingredients have taken him from his hometown of Chicago to Aspen, where he was the Sous Chef at the renowned Viceroy Hotel, to Miami, where he was the Executive Chef at the Viceroy Hotel, to the shores of Lake Tahoe when he joined the team at Destination Hotels.
Today he calls the Pacific Northwest home, having taken the reins at The Woodmark restaurants and catering operations on April 1st. He is thrilled to experience the region and share his own cooking philosophy formed over 15 years of experience.
“I love the food scene here,” he says. “It’s very under the radar. [Seattle chefs] are proud of what they do and are very craft-oriented and inventive with what is around them.”
Along with exploring the outdoors and experimenting with regional seafood, he is ready to get his hands on any and all local produce, especially during the summertime. He plans on spending extended hours in the Seattle area farmers markets, adding, “The produce and the people really sell Seattle, and that’s what excites me.”
With a cooking philosophy that centers around proper execution, a close relationship with local farms and creameries (with seasonal ingredients being a must), and a creative approach to classic dishes, Chef Frank has already made room for big changes at Beach Cafe and bin on the lake.
Before summer begins, The Woodmark restaurants will undergo noticeable transformations under Chef Frank’s influence. Beach Cafe is in the process of a restoration to go beyond the classic café feel and feature inspired dishes made with intriguing ingredients. Bin on the lake will continue to embrace Sous Chef Natasha Calesa’s Southern touch (possibly expanding to some East Coast seafood) as well as see a brand new happy hour.
With a vibrant, young local community in Kirkland, Chef Frank plans for a happy hour that highlights live music, authentic craft cocktails, and a completely updated bar menu to feature more modern fare. “We’re going to shoot for more fun and exciting stuff,” he says. “We really want to make that menu so amazing and so big that you have to come here three or four times just to try everything.”
From deconstructing a classic dish to adding new elements, Chef Frank loves to put a twist on the traditional while keeping the end result comfortable for guests. And it’s clear that the best is yet to come from this Chicago-turned-Seattle chef.
“Talking with everybody around me,” he says, “from chefs to cooks to guests, that constant communication and creativity from everybody inspires me.”
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