Seattle Culinary Academy

Archive for 2013

Congratulations to SCA student Geneva Melby for her Second Place Win at the 5th annual International Tapas Competition.

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

photoThis year’s international competitors were all participants in the current edition of the ICEX Training Program in Spanish Gastronomy. The 2013 edition of this twenty-one week educational training program included a six-week Spanish language and gastronomy training period, followed by a thirteen-week internship stage in a renowned Spanish restaurant and a two-week field trip around Spain.

There were nine participants in this year’sInternational Tapas Competition which took place in this city’s Plaza del Milenio in Valladolid, Spain.  Geneva’s tapa entitled Vales y Vinedos, Conejo con Pan del Bosque (Valley and Vineyards, Rabbit with bread of the Forest) won her a second place certificate and a trip to Puerto Rico.    The tapas were judged by a jury presided over by Joan Roca, chef of El Celler de Can Roca, the World’s Best Restaurant, and Oriel Castro of El Bulli Foundation.  This competition marked the end of the participant’s time in Spain.

SCA, Specialty Desserts & Breads Graduate Competes on Top Chef 10-2

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Aragona’s Carrie Mashaney vies for ‘Top’ honors

By Rebekah Denn

Special to The Seattle Times

Enlarge this photoJustin Stephens/Bravo

Top Chef fans are hoping for a little more Seattle this year, even though the show is set in New Orleans.

Last year’s “Top Chef: Seattle” had no local stars to cheer for — and, in some cases, little local flavor. On the new “Top Chef: New Orleans” season, premiering Wednesday, Carrie Mashaney will be representing the city. A rising star, Mashaney will be the opening chef of Jason Stratton’s upcoming downtown Spanish restaurant, Aragona. She was most recently chef de cuisine at Spinasse.

Mashaney’s long résumé includes attending Seattle Central Community College’s Baking and Pastry program, apprenticing at a patisserie in France, taking a front-of-the-house job at The Hunt Club and working in the kitchen at Beato, DeLaurenti and Dinette.

She met Stratton when both worked at the prestigious Cafe Juanita, where she started out as a pastry chef and then switched back to the savory side. She came to Spinasse to work with national “Best New Chef” winner Stratton in 2009.

She describes her cooking style as simple, with a focus on technique. “I love roast chicken. That’s a staple in my house,” she said. In Bravo TV’s official bio, she said she most enjoys cooking Mexican, Vietnamese and Caribbean cuisines at home, and that in her free time, she participates in CrossFit with “a personal record of 49 double under jump ropes.”

We spoke by phone earlier this week, when she was still not sure whether she was going to brave watching herself on the big screen. Here’s an edited, condensed version of our conversation:

Q: What made you want to try out for “Top Chef”?

A: Jason had encouraged me to try out. Honestly, that’s the big reason why I did … I was so fearful about it. Jason had been egging me on for a couple of years now, he tried out a couple times as well, and I think I … had decided I was ready in my life for some reason to do this.

I was thinking, if I’m so scared of something, maybe I should just do it, and then it should be a great experience. I just have to dive in and try something new. It was a perfect opportunity time-wise for me, because we were opening Aragona, so I had hired someone already to take my position here [at Spinasse.]

Q: Were you able to tell your family and your co-workers what you were doing?

A: Jason signed a waiver, so he did know. I wasn’t like, ‘I’m going to be gone for this amount of time and I’m not going to tell you.’ And my husband knew, of course. I had to stay pretty tight-lipped about the whole thing … I told everyone I was going to Spain. It wasn’t so much of a stretch — I did go to Spain for two weeks with Jason in January.

Q: How did you prepare for the tryouts?

A: I just tried to be myself, I didn’t do anything too crazy … if you’re acting, I think people can see through that, if you’re not an actress. I just have to be true to who I am.

I try not to be too over the top, though I can be a little sassy at times for sure … I’m pretty relaxed, [but] pretty bossy at times, so maybe that came through. I think naturally everyone on the show is probably bossy.

I try to have fun and not take everything too seriously, because our work is serious and we are really focused on it, and sometimes it’s nice to have fun and to remember we’re cooking food, it’s fun, people are eating, people are happy, no one is dying, so we can calm down for a second. If someone doesn’t get their rib-eye it’s not the end of the world.

Q: Was the show like what you expected?

A: I had no idea what I was going into. I knew it was going to be really, really, hard, and it was as hard as I thought it was going to be. I didn’t expect to be as nervous as I was! I thought it would be fun, and you’re in it and … I was not prepared for the intensity of the nervousness.

Q: Did it change your way of cooking at all?

A: The situations that you’re put in aren’t that realistic for cooking in the kitchen. I don’t think I would ever be put in those situations again. (Editor’s note: Outtakes from the first episode have Mashaney cooking in a swamp with no stove or gear.)

I’ve been developing the menu here at Aragona, so I haven’t been in a real stressful capacity lately on the line cooking. So who knows — maybe once I get back in the groove of things, I’ll be better able to deal with stressful situations. That would be awesome.

Q: What made you switch from being a pastry chef back to savory cooking?

A: I realized, once I got in the kitchen, that all these wonderful cooks were doing so much around me. I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I want to do everything. I want to do it all.’

Q: What should people expect to find at Aragona when it opens, and are there any dishes that are especially close to your heart?

A: I hope they find good food! I hope that they’re surprised by our interpretation of Spanish cuisine.

There are a couple of dishes that are really close to my heart. We hired a pastry chef, (but) Jason wanted me to figure out how to make these little Spanish pastries called xuxos.

I did them for this pop-up picnic thing at Cal Anderson Park. It took me about four months to figure out the recipe. They’re very dear to my heart because I worked so hard on them — I’m not always like that. If something doesn’t work out I’m on to the next thing. This one I tried it over and over until I got it perfect, this pastry filled with vanilla cream and deep-fried. We were tossing ours in a truffle sugar.

Q: What got you into cooking in the first place?

A: My mom cooked growing up, and she had a restaurant for a short stint of my childhood … she had always loved it, and it was something we did together. It was something I just fell in love with her.

Q: Your mom passed away. What would she have thought of the “Top Chef” show?

A: When all my family found out on Facebook, they were like, “Oh, my God. Your mom would be flipping out right now.” I think she would be super proud of me.

Rebekah Denn writes about food at

Chefs stir the pot in hopes of influencing big food issues

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Many chefs are considering how — and whether — they can make a difference on the issues that concern them most, such as USDA organic standards, GMO labeling, school nutrition and humane animal husbandry.

By Providence Cicero /

Kären Jurgensen of the Seattle Culinary Academy chats during the Seattle “food salon” for chefs, food advocates and policymakers.

Enlarge this photoBETTINA HANSEN / The Seattle Times

Kären Jurgensen of the Seattle Culinary Academy chats during the Seattle “food salon” for chefs, food advocates and policymakers.

Laura Rogers can almost pinpoint when the needle jumped in The Pew Charitable Trusts’ campaign to phase out the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in food animals. When celebrity chef and “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio started following them last year on Twitter (@saveantibiotics), it was a game-changer.

At the time, the campaign  had 20,000 Twitter followers; he had 350,000. When he retweets them, they can tell. “He’s really stepped out, talked about it on morning shows,” Rogers said. “He’s come to conferences and lobbied for us. When you have someone like that, a prominent chef people look up to, and the American people can relate to, it begins to shift momentum.”

It’s not just celebrity chefs who are speaking out. Many chefs are considering how — and whether — they can make a difference on the issues that concern them most: USDA organic standards, GMO labeling, school nutrition, humane animal husbandry, antibiotic use and pesticides in food, a better farm bill, and access to healthy food in low-income communities are just some of them.

Pew, a nonprofit research and public-policy organization, has been working on the antibiotics issue for almost five years. It was lonely at the start, recalls Rogers, project director at Pew Health Group. “We were up against formidable foes — big agriculture and pharmaceutical companies — with just a few nonprofits involved and not much consumer awareness.”

They started building the movement with moms. “Often they control what comes into the house. They want the least processed products for their kids. They get that antibiotics are overused,” Rogers said.

Then Pew organized a big lobby day in Washington, D.C., inviting moms but also doctors, victims of food-borne illnesses, farmers and chefs. “The chefs were so passionate. They had great stories to tell. They understand where food comes from. They want everyone to have access to the same food they do.”

Pew started reaching out to more of them. At the same time, the James Beard Foundation was seeking ways to lift the voices of its chefs, many of whom wanted to address problems in our food system but weren’t sure how. Last summer, the Beard Foundation, Pew and media training experts from D.C. held the first “Chefs Boot Camp for Policy & Change.” Seattle chef Maria Hines attended the pilot program, then a second boot camp this past spring.

As the chef/owner of three certified organic restaurants — Tilth, Golden Beetle and Agrodolce — Hines is no stranger to food advocacy. She decided to host a mini boot camp for her colleagues locally.

“I feel we can reach out to the next level,” to work with policymakers and advocates to help change things, Hines said. “I feel like everyone’s making a chicken stock or veal stock in their own house. They’re chopping up a little bit of onions and carrots and getting their own little mirepoix together. Instead we should be saying: you chop up a bushel of carrots, you chop up a bushel of onions, and let’s make one big-ass stock together.”

Last month a dozen Seattle chefs (and one from Portland), along with food advocates and state and local policymakers, gathered for a daylong “food salon” led by Mitchell Davis, executive vice president of the Beard foundation.

Davis told the chefs they had a lot of day-to-day opportunities to influence the public. He used kale as an example: “Everyone eats kale now. Chefs using it in restaurants made that happen to a large extent.”

Chefs already influence our food choices. Before kale it was bok choy, before that it was arugula. When we taste something new in a restaurant, we might ask our market to special order it; if enough customers demand it, the market will stock the item.

Chefs have political clout because they create jobs, pay taxes, powerful people sit at their tables, and the public idolizes them. But most chefs have limited time and resources, and even less knowledge of how to work the system.

Speaking out can be a tough decision for chefs. As small-business owners, many are careful about expressing political views, for fear of offending guests who don’t share them. Others feel a duty to express opinions on food issues. All share a concern for the safety of the food supply.

Jim Drohman, chef/owner of Le Pichet and Café Presse, said he thought advocating for a food policy that assures a safe supply is “part of our job.” Before this, he said, he wasn’t aware so many chefs were thinking the same way.

Most chefs aren’t natural political animals. “Chefs want to hide back in the kitchen; otherwise they would be waiters,” said Portland chef Cathy Whims, who came away from the first salon feeling overwhelmed.

At the Seattle food salon, however, during a “speed-dating session” where the chefs rotated among the various policymakers and advocates to practice distilling their message down to three minutes or less, Whims met Katie Levy of Yes On 522, the initiative to require labeling on genetically modified foods.

“She mentioned they were coming down for Feast Portland in September,” Whims said. “Last year at Feast we threw an after-party, so I said, what if we did it this year as a benefit for the ballot measure?”

Before the food salon, the group had dinners planned with a number of Seattle-area chefs. Since the salon, more chefs have signed on for dinners and for “Bite Nite,” a small-plate fundraiser at Herban Feast in Sodo Park on Sept. 19, among them Meeru Dhalwala of Shanik.

Dhalwala, who also runs the kitchens at Vij’s and Rangoli in Vancouver, B.C., has been an activist for 19 years. “Joy of Feeding,” her pet project in Vancouver, is an annual feast prepared by household cooks to promote cross-cultural awareness and raise money for UBCFarm, a research center on the University of British Columbia campus.

Dhalwala would like to launch a similar project in Seattle in 2014. During the speed-dating session, she spoke to Rebecca Sadinsky, executive director of PCC Farmland Trust, about the possibility of benefiting that organization.

As the food salon came to a close, many expressed interest in continuing the conversation at monthly coffees or quarterly meals. “We’re talking about so many food issues all at once,” said Hines. “It’s a giant nut to crack.”

But if they succeed, the benefits for the public just might be better food on everyone’s tables.

Providence Cicero is The Seattle Times restaurant critic. Bettina Hansen is a Times staff photographer.

Specialty Desserts & Breads Alum Competes on “Top Chef”

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013


Seattle chef competes on ‘Top Chef’Posted by

 Top Chef has left Seattle, but a Seattle chef is finally getting another spot on the show. Carrie Mashaney, chef de cuisine at Jason Stratton’s upcoming Aragona restaurant, will compete on the show’s 11th season in New Orleans. (more…)

Albacore Tuna Culinary Competition

Monday, August 12th, 2013

The Seattle Culinary Academy took 3 teams and a chef instructor to Newport Oregon to compete in a Albacore Tuna Culinary competition. After weeks of practice and preparation Aaron Slaughter & Payton Snook took 3rd place in the student heat with their Cajun rubbed tuna with apple fennel slaw & apricot tomato chutney. Chef Sarah Wong took second in the professional division with Herbs de Provence cured Albacore, Earl Grey Tea Egg & Corn Marjoram Sauce & Salt Roasted Potatoes.

Congratulations to all that participated!

Congratulations Seattle Culinary Academy Scholarship Winners!

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Congratulations to Seattle Culinary Academy students Amin Shayegan, Aaron Slaughter, Kimberly Brauer, Charles Lightsey, Vanessa Fowler, Christy Nymark, Dominique Green, Sasha Gross, Betsy Robblee, Morgan Banks and Serene Cook.  Combined they were awarded over $21,000.00 in scholarships.  Thank you to all who contributed and continue to support our programs.

Seattle Dames Promote Award Winning Seed-To-Table Sustainable Food System Practices

Thursday, April 11th, 2013


By Braiden Rex-Johnson (Seattle)

In the year 2000, long before savvy chefs throughout the country started chanting the “local, seasonal, sustainable” mantra, a handful of Dames and fellow instructors at the Seattle Culinary academy (SCA) at Seattle Central Community College were already teaching their students how to source local products and incorporate them into satisfying recipes and menu plans.

But not until June 2012 were these pioneering efforts recognized with a national green award and $1,000 prize from Kendall College and the Center for the advancement of Foodservice education (CAFÉ).

“SCA was one of the first culinary schools in the nation to offer formal coursework in sustainability, highlighting the value of local and seasonal sourcing,” said Christopher Koetke, vice president of the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts.

In addition to mandatory coursework teaching sustainable food-system practices, SCA students learn how to plant, tend, and harvest the land. Nose-to-tail butchery and food-preservation skills are taught, and students operate a GMO-free kitchen. A $50,000 gift from les Dames, Seattle Chapter, helped fund the college’s plant-science lab and green house.

Seattle Dames serving on the faculty at SCA include associate Dean Linda Pal Chauncey, program Manager Joy Gulmon- Huri, and Chef-instructor Kären Jurgensen.

Dame Jurgensen, an SCA tenured faculty member, co-authored Rethinking the Kitchen: The e Sustainable Kitchen Handbook and “Chefs on the Farm.” She serves as a chef-educator at the Quillisascut Farm School, and founded the Seattle Chapter of Chefs Collaborative (CC). She was chosen from among more than 100 people nominated to receive the CC Sustainer award during the organization’s fourth annual Sustainable Food Summit.

Held in Seattle last October and hosted by SCA, the Summit attracted 300 attendees and internationally recognized speakers including Ruth Reichl and Kim Severson.

“As a chef, I want access to flavor that only comes from just picked freshness,” Kären said. “I want diversity of products to choose from and create with. and, finally, economics—if my local farmers prosper, my community prospers, then so do I.”

SCA Graduate Wins Internship in Spain

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013


Geneva Melby a recent graduate of Seattle Culinary Academy, was selected through competition, as 1 of 10 students invited to participate in a 6 month language & culinary arts internship in Spain. Geneva was selected from an international pool of students from culinary schools all over the world. Her stage & tour will culminate in a competition in November 2013 in Spain.

2013 James Beard Foundation Best Chefs In America Nominees

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Best Chef: Northwest!
Jason Franey, Canlis, Seattle, WA and Ethan Stowell*, Staple & Fancy Mercantile, Seattle, WA

Congratulations from the Seattle Culinary Academy!

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