We are excited to feature the talented people behind the scenes – the gifted and passionate individuals on our culinary team who create and prepare the tasty treats that we all get to enjoy in our restaurants. Bon Appétit!
“I am really not sure why I chose to become a chef. In fact, I think it chose me,” says Tristan Chalker, El Gaucho Bellevue’s newly appointed Executive Chef. “The restaurant business is all I have ever known. I remember when I first started working in fine dining and one of the chefs had a Charlie Trotter cookbook. That was a huge turning point for me. I had never seen food like that before!”
Tristan grew up in Vero Beach, Florida, and at age 12, started in a friend’s bakery by prepping and doing dishes. That led to “other gigs around town – nothing serious,” including becoming prep cook at Dodgertown, the LA Dodger’s spring training camp. He started traveling around the country, and ended up in Seattle, finding his way to Bluwater Bistro, where he met Chef Peter Levine, who became his mentor. “He shaped who I am now both personally and professionally,” Tristan says. He moved from there to open Geraldine’s Counter in Columbia City, and in June 2006 he joined Peter again, but this time at Troiani, one of El Gaucho Hospitality’s former restaurants. After Troiani closed, Tristan was promoted to Sous Chef at AQUA in 2010, only to leave soon after he was offered an amazing opportunity to be a personal chef aboard a yacht. While the opportunity was great, it proved too difficult to be away from his family, and he returned “home” to AQUA in February 2014 as Sous Chef. His new role is now as Executive Chef at El Gaucho Bellevue, and he is ready for the challenge.
“I’m so excited about the opportunity to grow and learn as a person and chef,” he says. “Being able to work with such talent (in the company) is an absolute honor.”
Along with his creativity in the kitchen, Tristan, or T-Bone, or simply T, is also known for his sarcasm. He takes to heart his father’s advice given at a young age: “Don’t worry and be happy. When you’re stressed out, have a big problem on your plate, or are just straight up having a bad day, don’t worry about it too much and know that in the end, everything is going to be ok. Life is just too short to be stressed.”
Besides cooking, he enjoys snowboarding, camping, hiking, and just about anything outdoors. He has four daughters, including twins, as well as two cats. At home, Tristan loves to make pork posole. “I love Mexican cuisine,” he says. Evidently he also makes a mean chicken and broccoli casserole.
Tristan’s most important accomplishments include becoming a father and owning his own home, as well as “working for the best company in Seattle in one of the best positions in the company.” He likes to stay up on cooking trends by pouring over cookbooks and reading industry publications.
Come to El Gaucho Bellevue and see what Tristan and his team are cooking up! El Gaucho Bellevue is open for lunch Mon-Friday, Happy Hour and dinner service 7 days a week.
More of Tristan’s favorite things:
Food – Mexican
Drink- White wine
Book- The River Cottage Meat Cookbook
TV show- Californacation
Movie- Any Quentin Tarantino flick
Song- “A Tear for Eddie” by Ween