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Ted Furst

A restaurant life, part 2

Ted Furst met his future wife and moved off the Island onto Queen Anne with her, and began waiting tables at IL Bistro (photo). He met an Australian who had gotten an SBA loan and was opening a place called Russet's on 1st Avenue across from the Belltown Billiards building. "I was the chef and it was a cool menu. On opening night, the owner and GM showed up in drag. John Hinterberger of The Seattle Times reviewed us. It was all good and then about two months in, the payroll checks started to bounce, and then it closed. I went back to waiting tables at IL Bistro. I had a daughter by that time and realized I couldn't keep waiting tables and my career needed to be in the kitchen. I took a job as the sous chef at Saleh al Lago. Saleh was a terrific guy, and I loved it there. Tom Douglas used to eat there a lot while he was waiting for Café Sport to open, and we got to know each other. He had a guy named Stephen lined up to be his sous chef. In the meantime, the snack bar at the Seattle Club (which housed the future restaurant) needed cookies and snacks to sell, so here was this chef and his sous chef holed up in this condo kitchen making cookies and muffins in a tiny oven. Steven had enough and said, 'I'm out and going to San Francisco,' so Tom offered me the sous chef job. I opened Café Sport with him in late November/early December 1983. I loved that job. Tom was the day chef and had a lot of his now-familiar dishes on the menu. At night, it was the same menu, but the fresh sheet was extensive and all me. I had a ball, and started experimenting with Asian flavors; it was a new menu every night. Peter Lewis was the dining room manager. He and I ate dinner together every night and became close. When my second daughter was born, I found out they hadn't processed my insurance and I didn't have coverage; there were problems and I was suddenly in debt."

Dorene Centioli-McTigue (photo), the Pagliacci Pizza founder (whose dad had KFC franchises), wanted to open a modern Italian Kitchen. She opened Bravo Pagliaccio in what is now a daycare place but used to be the Velvet Turtle in Kirkland. "Dorene hired me as the chef and I wrote the menu. The place was a big success. We needed a dining room manager, so Peter Lewis came over from Café Sport. Over a year or so, he and talked about doing our own place. We got a place on Capitol Hill across from Settebello on Olive Way. While we were remodeling our space over the summer, I had to have some income. Bill Frank, owner of Place Pigalle at the Market, hired me to be the chef. I told him I'd cook his regular menu five nights a week, but I wanted a free hand with the specials. If there were staff issues, he would have to take care of them. He had accounts with everyone at the Market, so I'd walk through and pick out what I wanted, walking into the restaurant with a blue fin tuna on my shoulder. I had the fun of being a chef without the responsibility.

Peter and I opened Campagne in November of 1985. We had 40 seats, with another 18 or 20 on the patio in back. I had a great uncle who had a place in Provence and I was enamored with southern French cuisine. We opened on a shoestring and had no money. Two days after we opened, there was a giant snow storm and almost no one showed up for five days. We thought we'd close fast. The next week, The Weekly put us on the front cover and got us going. It was a lot of fun. We did lunch and dinner at first, then went to just dinner. I lived on Eastlake and would bike to work, prep during the day, then open at 5 p.m. Unfortunately, Peter and I were two guys with families, and although Fridays and Saturdays were big, weeknights we served maybe 25-30 dinners. It wasn't supporting both of us, so we decided we'd find a better location."

Chef John Sarich had Adriatica Restaurant, and later opened Dalmacija Ristoran, the first tenant at Inn at the Market. "Dalmacija lasted about a year. Peter and I wanted that location for Campagne. We were up against Kathy Casey and Jimella Lucas of The Ark. They were going to call their place Katz. Inn at the Market owner decided in favor of Kathy and Jimella. I wanted to keep looking for a new location. Peter wanted to stay on Capitol Hill. Since his parents put up some of the money for the restaurant, I decided to walk away. We'd been written up in the New York Times and other places; I thought I'd have offers rolling in and stayed home for the summer. No offers came. Six weeks later Peter got a call from Inn at the Market saying the space was ours. Peter never called and told me and it was the end of our friendship. We run into each other every now and then and it's fine. He is the best front-of-house person I ever met and did really well with Campagne. I would say that he deserves most of the credit for Campagne's legendary reputation in this town."

Peter Lamb at his latest restaurant Bucatini in Edmonds

Le Grand Bistro Américain
2220 Carillon Point
Kirkland, WA 98033
425-828-7778
www.bistrolegrand.com

Click here to read part 1 of this story

Watch for part 3 next month

Connie Adams/August 2017


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