Building a restaurant or bar has always been intensely personal to me. It’s never an afterthought or an accident, but something that receives thought and reflection. Striving to get to that purposeful connection where the authenticity is felt by every guest that walks in the door.
I’ve been asked several times where I got the inspiration for Civility & Unrest. The follow-up to that is a question on the meaning of the name. The answers are intertwined. The motivation came from the cocktail culture and underground speakeasies of a bygone era. When creating the lounge, I wanted something that not only took cocktails seriously, but also defined a culture steeped in discovery. Whereas an evening can start with a level of civility, and continue as the night goes on, intrigue is piqued and inhibitions are relaxed. It’s a place for opportunity – for unrest – an openness to experience what the night unfolds.
Intended to be a respite for adults of all ages, and to really be what you want it to be, whether a place to meet friends, make new ones, or have a business meeting in a comfortable setting while sipping craft cocktails, vintage liquors, Champagne or sparkling wines.
It will also be a place for entertainment, either to book your own events or to join ours, with fashion shows, tattoo artists, unplugged sessions, DJ sets, and trunk shows, all showcasing our region’s incomparable talent.
We’re opening soon, June 15, and I hope that you will find the inspiration of Civility & Unrest as authentic as the discovery for serious cocktails and unbridled fun.
Veiled by a hand painted mural, tucked under The Lakehouse. Pull up a chair, or slink to the back, open to discovery and let the experience unfold.
Visit Civility & Unrest on Instagram
Today I’ll be handed the keys to The Lakehouse, giving me a moment of pause to reflect on the “labor of love” that has guided much of my time over the last two years. With the construction crews departing and our team officially moving in, I remember the inspiration and the true intention of this project – to build a place that is comfortable, yet elegant; familiar, yet sophisticated. Ultimately, one that will feel like a respite, a home, for our guests, where we are able to put forth delicious, pure, authentic craft cooking.
The Lakehouse has always been about the artisan experience, from the ceramics that the food is served on, to the art on the walls, and the people creating the food and drinks in the kitchen and bar. The menu revolves around local produce reflecting vibrant, farm-inspired craft cooking. My team and I are working from a philosophy of total usage and unique techniques, all the while highlighting and celebrating a produce-driven menu, rounded out with local seafood and meat, fresh produce, handmade pasta, and the larder.
The Lakehouse is my interpretation of a Northwest Farmhouse through and through. From the Maple & Moroccan Spice Roasted Carrots, goats milk labne, chiles, almond, mint, inspired by my fondness for root vegetables that displays an approach that is both simple, yet dynamic in flavor, texture, and experience, to the Curry Roast Cauliflower that has depth in flavor and showcases the vegetable at its cleanest when prepared with green apple, herb hummus, preserved lemon, kale pesto, and ver jus. Drawing upon the family-style experience indicative of creating memories in a home, I created the shareable Grilled Wild Alaska Halibut, Mustard Green pesto, smoke clam remoulade, sautéed spinach with lemon, and saffron potatoes, which I intended to instill a distinctive Northwest spin on a classic American steak preparation. Every dish has a story behind it – and an artisan hand that has touched it.
As we work, train, unpack and continue to push, I’m looking forward to our first guests next month and opening the doors of our welcoming space and lake house retreat.
Visit The Lakehouse on Instagram
I’m excited to finally share the opening of my two new places, The Lakehouse and Civility & Unrest, both opening on two separate floors of the new W Bellevue hotel on June 15! What started two years ago is finally coming to fruition. The process of creating each place has not only been a wonderful experience, but one that has required a lot of time and focus on details, which is now resulting in a lifelong dream.
The inspiration involved in these two projects stemmed from the history of Bellevue, and what I see as cooking to a sense of place – cooking to Bellevue and a history of simple beginnings, growing into the booming metropolis that it is today. From concept to design, menu to uniforms, ingredient sourcing to hiring, and everything in between, these projects have become a part of my daily life, one that I welcome with full passion.
My interpretation of a Northwest farmhouse has resulted in produce-driven craft cooking at The Lakehouse. The vibrant, farm-inspired menu is one that I’ve labored over, thought through day and night, changed, and changed back, and continue to evolve.
Civility & Unrest is speakeasy-inspired. Hidden within the new W Bellevue, it’s a place for fun, excitement and discovery, while enjoying serious craft cocktails, flowing champagnes and sparkling wines.
I look forward to sharing more about each of these places in the coming weeks, and to welcoming you through the doors come June 15.
One of my favorite times of year is spring, with cherry blossoms blooming, the much-needed sun poking through blue skies, and green punching up everywhere! The ingredients available are no exception to the excitement, from first of the season King Salmon, farm fresh spring peas, foraged fiddleheads, and one of my favorites, fresh halibut!
Heralding from our own waters, wild halibut is incredibly diverse, giving a wide range of cooking methods, but carefully crafted to let the fresh halibut profile shine.
Below is my recipe for Wild Halibut with charred onions, sweet sausage and scallion lemon.
4 each 5-6 ounce portions of fresh wild halibut
¼ cup minced scallions
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup chicken stock
½ lb sweet pork sausage
1 cup large petals of yellow onions
1 tsp cracked pepper
1 tbp chopped mint
1 tbsp whole butter
1 tsp chili flakes
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
Toss the onions in sesame and olive oil, Add salt and chili flakes. Place a large saute pan on medium high heat, when pan is very hot, sear the onions until a dark brown color is all over them. Add the sausage and brown lightly, add all remaining ingredients except for the halibut and remaining olive oil and cook slowly for 10 minutes.
In a separate pan on medium high heat add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Season the halibut filets with kosher salt liberally on one side, then add the filets to the pan and saute for 10 minutes while onion mixture/sauce is cooking. Place halibut pan in a preheated 350F oven for 5 minutes, remove and serve.
I’ve worked with many worthwhile and impactful non-profits over the years. My support is usually through my cooking and my restaurants, but recently, I was able to combine another love of mine to raise funds and awareness for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska (RMHC).
I grew up in Minnesota playing ice hockey – it’s what you do there in the winter. It has followed me around and has trickled down to become a passion of my wife’s and my son’s, even giving me the opportunity to coach his ice hockey team.
I was recently invited to play goalie for the Celebrity All-Star Game at the 2017 Hockey Challenge, put on by the Seattle Thunderbirds to support Ronald McDonald House Charities. I’ve volunteered before and this year, I jumped at the chance to once again bring together my love of hockey and my desire to help others.
I joined other local celebrities, including Sportsradio KJR 950 AM Ian Furness and Matt “Slickhawk” Mikolas, Alex Akita from Seattle Sportsnet, Spike O’Neil from KZOK 102.5 FM, Steve Migs from KISW 99.9 FM, John Langeler from KING 5 TV, and T-bird alumni, capping off a day of fundraising with other ice hockey games, including the T-birds vs Winterhawks. All in all, we raised over $150,000 for children and their families, added to the $4.9 million that the Hockey Challenge has raised over the last 18 years.
Ice hockey has a huge, giving community of supporters. It is my way of staying fit, having fun, and now, fundraising, to boot!
See more on how RMHC directly impacts children (and the hockey community).
We’re hitting milestones left and right, and what better place to share them than here?
Our recent guest appreciation party at Miller’s Guild celebrated the restaurant’s third anniversary (seems like yesterday we just opened!). Today, we’re quickly approaching the opening of The Lakehouse and Civility & Unrest in Bellevue. These two milestones, made during a great start to 2017, brought me serious reflection upon the fine line chef-entrepreneurs must walk to balance growth and success while maintaining culinary innovation and elevated guest experiences.
Make no mistake, I thoroughly enjoy being an entrepreneur and restaurateur and savor the visionary aspects. However, my first love will always be cooking. Being a chef is what drives me. It’s at the heart of everything that I do and it gives me a creative outlet unlike any other facet of my business. It’s what jumpstarted my career and continues to be what I do best.
To that end, I’ve decided to partner with the El Gaucho Hospitality team by combining our strengths. El Gaucho Hospitality has long been a business that I admire for its level of service and ability to source premium products, both locally and from around the world. It’s a business decision, but also a deeply personal one that rests on the values that I philosophically share with them.
Along with my staff, this partnership will bring a more elevated and memorable guest experience while allowing me to continue to push the culinary envelope at my restaurants, the El Gaucho restaurants, and in our future endeavors together. I remain owner, brand visionary and driver of all culinary aspects for my restaurants: Miller’s Guild, The Lakehouse and Civility & Unrest.
I look forward to cooking for you at Miller’s Guild and I invite you to join me at The Lakehouse and Civility & Unrest in Bellevue when we open this summer.
All my best,
Chef Jason recently took part in one of the most impactful local causes that he’s had the privilege to be a part of for the last several years. The Auction of Washington Wines pulls together its immense resources and generous partners every August to raise funds and awareness for Children’s Hospital as well as the education and progress of the Washington wine industry. This year, Chef Jason was able to partner Miller’s Guild with Washington winemakers in hosting a winemaker dinner, auctioned off experiences to preview his new Bellevue projects, The Lakehouse and Civility & Unrest, as well as be part of an auction package with the esteemed winemaker Bob Betz and Westland Distillery.
Over $40K in donations later, and a host of memorable experiences, the $3 million total raised over the 3-days of events is what really makes the difference for the main benefactor, Children’s Hospital. For Chef Jason, it’s not just another night and another menu, it’s much more that resonates for him in supporting such a meaningful and very worthwhile cause, and one that he looks forward to year after year.
As a chef and restaurant owner I’m often approached to give to nonprofit organizations and local schools. While fundraising for children is near and dear to my heart (more on that in the next post!), supporting local farmers, ranchers and fisherman is a close second. Many of these purveyors I call friends, and they are the cornerstone of what I do – they make my food shine and inspire me everyday.
To that end, when I was approached by the Kirkland Wednesday Farmers Market to do a late summer fundraising dinner, I jumped at the chance! Set at the picturesque Carillon Point with sweeping views of Lake Washington, accompanied by stunning event design from the famed Kevin Bradford, and featuring select Washington wines, beers and cocktails, the dinner takes place this Saturday, August 27, all to benefit the Kirkland Wednesday Farmers Market.
For my part to this beautiful evening, I’ve put together a five-course menu featuring some of the farmers and producers from the Farmers Market, including Smith Brothers Farms, EF Produce from Wapato, CNL Garden from Duvall, Cascade Farm from Lynden and Seattle Pickle Company, to name a few. I have the pleasure of highlighting these ingredients in my simply, refined craft cooking.
For tickets to the dinner this Saturday, please visit Kirkland Farm To Table Dinner.
Amuse Bouche Trio
Roasted Carrots with Labneh, Chiles & Mint
Grilled Figs, Sheeps Milk Yogurt & Mustard Green
Deviled Eggs with Beet Pickle, Loki Salmon Roe & Horseradish
Fresh Washington Summer Corn Soup with caramelized Walla Walla onions, snow peas & radish
Slow Roasted Wild Salmon with Heirloom Tomato, Sweet Yakima Corn, Snap Pea Mint Butter
Braised Washington Beef Short Rib with Summer Chanterelle Mushrooms & Grilled Onions
Lemon Verbena & Anise Panna Cotta topped with Rainier cherry syrup, chamomile crumble, grilled stone fruit
Peach season indicates some of the best days of summer! Grills, summer produce, and biting into a peach that is so ripe its juices dribble onto your chin and cascade down your arms, signaling it’s a perfect peach! We are lucky enough to have some of the world’s best peaches thanks to our farmers in Eastern Washington, including Pence Orchards!
The juices, flavor and beauty of ripe peaches have been celebrated during Peach-O-Rama at local area Metropolitan Market stores for years. This year marks the 20th Peach-O-Rama and I’ve teamed up with Metropolitan Market to take Pence Orchards, and organic peach farmer Frog Hollow, from the produce section of the stores to home grills. My recipes for Grilled Summer Peach Salad with Ricotta and Prosciutto and Marinated Peaches, Buttermilk Quinoa Cakes and Basil Crème Fraiche are both in Metropolitan Market’s “Market Calendar” in stores. I’ve also shared one below.
As a chef, I’ve worked with Bert Pence of Pence Orchards for years. Together, Metropolitan Market and Pence Orchards take their peach business seriously. Pence hand picks some of the biggest and best for Metropolitan Market and places them in single layer boxes to avoid bruising during shipment to the stores. The single layer of peaches is key, and is reserved only for the Metropolitan Market peaches, which must have 13 Brix or higher, making them the sweetest peaches on the market. It’s this kind of care that makes my job as a chef so fun – creating dishes with the very best product I can get my hands on!
I’ll be at the Kirkland Metropolitan Market on Saturday, July 30, Noon-2 p.m. cooking the above dishes and sharing them with shoppers, while enjoying a few of those perfectly ripe peaches that Pence, Frog Hollow and Metropolitan Market have become so well-known for.
Marinated Peaches, Buttermilk Quinoa Cakes & Basil Creme Fraiche
3 large fresh ripe peaches, skin on, sliced in 8 large chunks, pits removed
3 Tbsp fresh maple syrup
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 mint leaves, chopped well
1/2 tsp salt
Basil Creme Fraiche
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1.5 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Buttermilk Quinoa Cakes
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp fresh dry active yeast
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
- Mix all Marinated Peaches ingredients in a bowl. Rest aside at room temperature while preparing the rest.
- Mix the Basil Creme Fraiche ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate.
- Bring orange juice and buttermilk to a boil in a small saucepan, then carefully pour into a medium mixing bowl. Add the sugar, yeast, thyme, and quinoa and stir to mix. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow 20 minutes for yeast to activate. It will become cloudy and bubble. Slowly fold in the remaining Buttermilk Quinoa Cake ingredients. Heat a greased cast iron pan or non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Spoon mixture in and cook until brown and crisp, about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Top quinoa cakes with peaches and creme fraiche.
The official launch of summer beckons for grills to be fired up this weekend. Chef Jason shared a few tips with MSN and The Daily Meal for preparing that steak for outdoor grilling (or indoor cooking).
Grills are also a perfect place to cook vegetables and fish, and nothing could be more timely than Alaska salmon! Chef Jason stopped by FOX Q13 on the opening day of salmon season and also shared his recipe with Seattle magazine for grilling your next Alaska salmon dinner.
I’m always on the lookout for something new. To be on the forefront of the next big ingredient, to challenge myself to use that ingredient in innovative ways and to surprise the people eating my food with new flavor combinations, textures, and colors.
This ambition led me to Coffee Flour – From the pulp of the previously wasted coffee fruit, a flour or powder turned into a nutrient-rich superfood. What first started as a new ingredient that nobody else was using soon became about the bigger global and social picture.
From pushing culinary boundaries to impacting coffee-growing countries across the globe, and creating change for public health, read more about my work with Coffee Flour in The Seattle Times.