Spotting one of Seattle's master chefs prowling amid the vibrantly-colored ruffage of Pike Place Market is kind of like catching a lion stalking its prey: you don't want to make a peep lest you interrupt his deep concentration; one false move and the epiphany surrounding the preparation of a fiddlehead fern might get spooked and fly away.
That's why the program that ART Restaurant is launching this week is so much fun. 7 Days of ART, a promotion that the Four Seasons Hotel's swank Pike Place nosh spot began running last summer, pegs a different theme to each day of the week. There's a wine flight focus on Mondays and an homage to desserts on Tuesdays (worth checking out just for pastry chef Tara Sedor's Pucker Power key lime cheesecake, with 1970s flower-shaped almond wafers and margarita foam that she says was inspired by none other than her grandmother's bathtub).
Wednesdays, though, are what's really got my pantyhose all wound up: that's when you can meet chef Jelle (pronounced YELL-eh) Vandenbroucke in the hotel lobby at 10 a.m. to join him on his morning hunt through Pike Place Market. He'll let guests in on his creative process and inspiration, and even let them help pick out ingredients. Yep, those morel mushrooms that catch your eye will likely show up on your plate for dinner at the restaurant that evening. It's better than going on safari and watching the hunt from afar—it's getting to be one of the lions for a day.
Vandenbroucke, a native of Belgium who moved to Seattle in February via the Westlake Village Four Seasons in Los Angeles, told me during a visit last week that he's loving diving into the Northwest flavors around him: last week's menu (it's ever-changing) included a Copper River Salmon appetizer slow poached in olive oil over fennel salad and Meyer lemon ($14), a ricotta gnocchi with teardrop tomatoes and pesto made from stinging nettles ($12 appetizer or $19 entree), and an Asian-inspired black cod glazed with red bean miso and served with shiitake mushrooms, baby bok choy and sweet pepper relish ($27).
If you'd like to join the market shopping trip, give the restaurant a call on Wednesday morning (206.749.7070) to let chef know you'll be coming. The full week's program, which runs now through August 31st, can be found here.