This month, Heartwood Provisions celebrates four years in the heart of downtown Seattle. When we opened our doors on February 8, 2016, our beverage director and chef partnering to pair beverages with food was not a new concept; however, our style and execution was a truly unique experience. Our custom-crafted, short-pour, low ABV cocktail pairings don’t just complement our dishes, they complete them. To honor our anniversary and those who have been on the journey with us since day one, we asked a few team members some questions about Heartwood Provisions and got to know a little more about the heart and soul of the restaurant.
What is your favorite part of opening a restaurant?
AMANDA REED (Beverage Director): Having opened many restaurants, I have to say my favorite part is the energy, the fear, and the excitement that surrounds the opening. As far as the opening of Heartwood specifically, this one was special because I was so involved with the concept development, the design of the bar, and the one and a half year of planning. It felt like my baby, and I continue to enjoy watching it grow.
JESSE (Sous Chef): The aspect of everything being a clean slate. All the equipment functions, and everything is clean. You get to learn from people you’ve never worked with before and are working with things you’ve never seen before. You meet people that you heavily rely on day in and day out. Always having one another’s back. Going through the first service of a restaurant is special, there’s a of nervous energy. You are unsure how it’s going to be, or what to expect, and there’s a novelty in that.
SUSAN (Lounge Server): My favorite thing about opening a restaurant is being able to help build something from the ground up, specifically by nurturing the clientele and fostering relationships with them over the years until our restaurant is one of their favorite places to visit in Seattle. I feel as though my regulars are family, over the years I’ve watched them get married, have children, and reach other milestones, and I feel as though I, and Heartwood, have been a part of that journey. Nothing warms my heart more.
How has your role changed since opening?
CHEF KIMBERLEY (Executive Chef): My role has changed a lot since we opened. I have worked in many different roles in this company and have learned a lot from every position. My executive chef role changed my view on the kitchen and on how to manage. As a young chef, I am still finding my way, looking back at the chefs I respected, who I learned from, remembering what they did well, and the things I would change if I were in their shoes. Now I am in those shoes, learning how to lead my wonderful staff. Teaching them techniques and products they have never seen and pushing everyone to grow.
MICHAEL: I was hired on as a bartender, and shortly after took on the role of creating the syrups for our program. I love being creative and finding new ways to pull flavors out of new ingredients. I also feel I have become much more proficient in the service, upping my speed, which has helped me in the competition game.
What is an ingredient or beverage you were introduced to while working on the Heartwood menu?
AMANDA: When I started dreaming up the pairing program, I really became more interested in fortified wines and how to use them in our beverage program. I find they work well in the beverage pairings, keeping them lower in proof while still providing depth and flavor. Sherry has been a favorite to use, as it is a natural fit with all the Spanish influence on our menu, and a favorite to use in our house cocktails.
JESSE: There are so many. I guess I’d have to say mushroom seasoning. It’s dehydrated mushroom and salt. It comes in little pellets not much larger than kosher salt. It’s nice to use in lieu of salt to season something with a deeper depth of flavor. It’s a very common ingredient in our recipe book here at Heartwood.
MICHAEL (Bartender): Being in the industry for so long, there isn’t anything too “new” you could throw at me. I will say, I do love the selection of fortified and aromatized wines that Amanda brought into the program. No one else in the city really has such a good collection.
What is your personal favorite food and beverage pairing outside of the restaurant?
VIREAK (Sous Chef): I’m a simple guy. My perfect pairing of food and beverage outside the restaurant is a cheeseburger, with fries and an ice cold can of Coke! And not just any burger, I’m talking Zippy’s in White Center. And it’s got to be American cheese. Classic.
DANNY (Lead Prep Cook): I would have to say homemade ceviche, with a nice ice-cold Space Dust IPA. It doesn’t get much better than that.
NICOLE (Server): My favorite all-time pairing is fresh, out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies/brownies and milk.
BECKY (Server): Popcorn and champagne! I call it the grown-up version of Pop Rocks and soda.
Your fondest memory at Heartwood?
VIREAK: My fondest memory involves Chef Kimberley. At the time, she was a sous chef and I was a cook. We were making the roasted cauliflower pasta dish – which is such a good dish, btw. It has lemon, capers, onions, Kalamata, and Castelvetrano olives, is slow cooked in extra-virgin olive oil and roasted cauliflower on a bed of bucatini pasta. We were in the process of roasting the cauliflower when the timer went off. I checked it, and the moment I saw the cauliflower, in the sincerest and ignorant tone I said, “Chef, do you want this more roasted?” The thing was, it was perfectly caramelized – not burnt, I just had no idea. And to this day, they do not let me live it down.
DANNY: I don’t have just one fond memory; we like to have a good time and keep it light when we are opening the restaurant or closing. At some point, I started taking photos of people spilling things by accidentit makes a frustrating situation a little more fun.
SHAVONNE (Server): I am a Jimmy Buffet fan, and I once met him when he was in the bar at Heartwood. We chatted a bit and then he was nice enough to put me on the list for his concert, where I ended up dead center front row at Key Arena! He was a super chill guy!
What would you be doing if you weren’t in the food and beverage industry?
CHEF KIMBERLEY: I would be a florist. I like working with my hands, and often buy flowers for my home that I like to arrange. I would still be a part of celebrations as well, serving the community.
SUSAN: If I wasn’t in the food and beverage industry, I would be flying the friendly skies as a flight attendant (or finally starting my own travel blog and getting paid to see the world!). My passion for travel was ignited with a trip to Bali in 2015, where I discovered the immeasurable value of experiencing other cultures and walks of life, and I made it my mission to see as many places as possible in this lifetime. I’m continuing this by journeying to Scandinavia in March, where I hope to get a taste of life in one of the northernmost regions of the world.
BECKY: I went to UW in pursuit of a nursing degree, of which I have about 1.5 years left to complete. I think a lot of the skills I’ve learned in the restaurant industry (multitasking, anticipating guests needs, time management) have prepared me for a career in nursing one day. Time will tell!
SHAVONNE: I think it is widely known that I love to paint; in fact, I have an art show coming up this spring. In a perfect world, I’d be a full-time painter with more cats! I currently have one cat now, Fernshe is my muse sometimes. I love her.
What has been your most unforgettable meal?
NICOLE: The most unforgettable meal I’ve ever had was at Altura on Capitol Hill. I went for Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago, and we did a 12-course tasting menu and every single mini dish was amazing! There wasn’t a single bite that we didn’t enjoy.
SUSAN: My favorite chef is Jose Andrés, and a few years ago I ate at his restaurant-within-a-restaurant, é, in Las Vegas. It was 26 courses, and he did things with food that I never thought possible. There was even a small tree made from dark chocolate with edible landscaping! To this day, one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
DANNY: I really like how we come together at Heartwood and make a family meal. We have made fried rice, tostadas, tacos, sometimes fried chicken. It is always rewarding when we try a recipe for a family meal and it just works out to be delicious.
From the back of the house to the front of the house, the delicious dishes to the creative beverage pairings, Heartwood works in partnership in every aspect, and that is something we are proud to showcase and love to share with you all.