When someone is first learning how to cook, along with stuff like measurements and following the general recipe outline, the advice they will inevitably hear from more seasoned chefs is, “Cook from the heart.” It’s the writer’s equivalent of, “Write what you know.” The idea is that the dish (or the story) must come from a true, authentic place, and should originate from something known, loved and even cherished.
Well, the same can be said for a restaurant, too, of course. An eatery has the foundation it rests on, and it has the base of its founder. Like a dish from the hands and heart of your favorite grandmother, the restaurant emanates from the vision of its owner and executive chef. Given that this is true, then it’s clear that Edmonds’ dining faithful are in for a new treat with the new restaurant, Charcoal, which is set to open on November 5.
Why? Because of Jake Wilson.
Wilson, a longtime Northwest culinary contributor, stands about six feet tall and almost always wears a smile. When so, his cheekbones almost pinch his eyes closed. Wilson, who grew up in Edmonds (his parents moved the family to the area when Wilson was in 2nd grade), started cooking at about ten years old. But he took it seriously about 15 years ago when he enrolled in the California School of Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu program.
Upon graduation, Wilson returned to the Seattle area and worked long hours in the kitchen at Ray’s Boathouse, preparing everything from fine dining to late-night fish and chips. Later, he worked at Café Juniata and as a sous chef at Vios Café in Ravenna after that. Wilson is the odd type of person who works both long hours and remains affable throughout.
“My experience as a chef,” he says, “really taught me how to manage people and try to get the best out of them. At each place, I tried to learn something new that would benefit me in the future. After culinary school, my dream was to be able to open up a restaurant of my own one day.”
Today is that day—well, November 5, officially.
“I hope to bring something new and innovative to the area,” Wilson says. “I want it to be an experience every time you come in.” He adds, “I’m most looking forward to working with people again [post-pandemic]. I miss the camaraderie of being in a restaurant and a kitchen.”
Wilson named his new spot “Charcoal” for several reasons. One, he plans on utilizing a large wood-burning oven to cook a number of his signature dishes. Secondly, he shares the commercial space with an art studio next door. That sense of connection and family—underscored by a good dish—is what his menu is all about.
And while a chef’s menu is always something of a work in progress, Wilson plans to open with at least these three autumn classics to start:
- Butternut Squash Soup with Calabrian chili, herb mascarpone and chervil.
- Risotto Gnocchi complete with everything ricotta, broccoli, tomato and basil cream.
- Grilled King Wild- Caught Salmon featuring Yukon golds, caramelized brussels sprouts, shallot marmalade, carrot top pesto and pinot noir gastrique.
“The best part of cooking for people,” Wilson says, “is seeing a positive reaction on their face. There is no better feeling than seeing someone enjoying your hard work.”
202B Main Street