is a fancy restaurant, but chef de cuisine Dylan Giordan is anything but. His food may be exquisitely plated and come adorned with four dollar signs, yet Giordan is just a regular guy who stops for tongue tacos on his way home from work.
“Or anything that goes well with beer,” Giordan adds.
This ponytail-sporting chef joined bin in January of this year after a decade overseeing the Italian/Mediterranean kitchens of Serafina Enoteca and Cicchetti in Seattle.
“I’d done everything that could be done,” he says. “Ten years at a restaurant is like 100 elsewhere.”
Though he brings his Mediterranean sensibilities to the seasonal Northwest style at bin, we shouldn’t expect the restaurant to sprout red and white checkered tablecloths any time soon. The changes were recently noted by a Seattle Times restaurant review that called bin a good choice for a splurge.
After more than half a year at bin, Giordan says he is settling in nicely and getting to know the clientele, who apparently all like to eat at 7 p.m. Though bin is connected with the Woodmark Hotel, it has not been a negative corporate experience for Giordan, who praises the hotel’s GM saying, “John (Murphy) puts a lot of trust in me.”
Chef Giordan grew up in the Midwest eating his mom’s chicken-cream of mushroom soup casseroles and cheesy baked spinach -- or what he fondly calls the “cheesy cheese bomb.” He was a typical picky kid who is now getting a taste of the other side of the equation as a father of two.
His daughter Sophia (7) will eat anything according to her dad, but Sebastian (9) is a different story. Giordan loves to cook for his kids and is learning to let his kids’ palates mature naturally. After all, he used to be picky and now he’s a chef!
“Cooking for my family is not a burden,” says Giordan who trades off with his mom cooking holiday dinners. He views it as his gift to them.
GIORDAN DID NOT did not go to culinary school. Working in restaurant kitchens was how he got through college. He claims that staff meals were both how he ate and why he became a chef.
Unlike certain red-faced, insult-slinging TV chefs, Giordan is not a guy who yells and prefers a mellow atmosphere in the kitchen. He’s a do-it-yourself type who leads by example, shocking kitchen staff when he scrubbed down his own grill one night.
Chefs don’t get invited to many dinner parties, probably due to the intimidation factor. And if they are invited, that party is probably on a Friday or Saturday night -- a chef’s busiest work days. Therefore, chefs hang out with other chefs, cooks and industry personnel.
“We’re cut from the same cloth,” says Giordan.
They talk food and swap stories. Like the one about the guy who walked into a bar. He presented an official allergy card stating he was lethally allergic to soy and rice. Did I mention it was a sushi bar?
Most chefs are willing to make accommodations for guests. Heck, even Primo and Secondo of “Big Night” ultimately served their guest both spaghetti and risotto, though not without a bit of horrified fury. No one is making light of food allergies here, but asking for no rice or soy contamination at a sushi bar is pushing it even in the hyper-aware-food-allergy-allowance-mecca that is the Northwest.
Giordan says he would be most devastated if he found out he were allergic to cheese, followed by a slightly panicked, “You can’t be allergic to meat, can you?”
Giordan makes menus that he would want to eat. If you haven’t eaten at bin in a year, you’ll notice that the menu is much smaller. Instead of appetizers, entrees and desserts, Giordan rearranged the menu into raw, stirred, grilled and roasted. Humble beets now rub elbows with the likes of halibut and rack of lamb.
What you won’t find on the menu is tuna tartare, which Giordan thinks has been done to death.
“And as much as I love the almighty pig, bacon is becoming a bit cliche,” he adds. Just mention the word bacon in a group and at least one person will throw out a Homer Simpson-style “mmm, bacon.”
Dylan Giordan is obviously not quite as “regular guy” as Homer Simpson, who wouldn’t know his house-cured mortadella from his “bolognie” with a first name. Not to fear -- the hoighty toighty scales are balanced by Giordan’s Gummy Bear addiction.
One little bear looks so small and innocent in your hand. But who can eat just one?
Try this strawberry gazpacho, courtesy of chef Dylan Giordan, for a cool summer treat.
- 2 lbs strawberries, white center removed
- ½ c yellow onion, chopped
- ½ c red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
- ½ garlic clove, sliced
- ¼ c mint leaves
- ¼ c tarragon leaves
- ¼ c balsamic vinegar
- ½ c Sicilian extra virgin olive oil
- Aged balsamic vinegar
- Lightly crush the strawberries by hand.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine berries, onion, bell pepper, cucumber, garlic, herbs, vinegar and oil. Let marinate together overnight.
- Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Add strawberry juice or water to thin out. Return the soup to the refrigerator until service.
- Serve in well chilled bowls, garnish with the pistachios, microgreens and drizzle a little aged balsamic vinegar on the soup for a nice presentation. This dish is best in summertime, when strawberries are in season.
Note: Giordan sources his strawberries from Billy Alstott of Billy's Gardens, who he claims provides him with the best strawberries he's ever tasted.