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Chef Tiffany Layco

Andaluca and Mayflower Park Hotel's Executive Chef

The Mayflower Park Hotel has a history of great chefs: Don Curtiss, Wayne Johnson, Sarah Lorenzen. And now there is Tiffany Layco who takes it to another level.

Hotels re-concept restaurants regularly. It's common in an industry with lots of competition; things can seem dated quickly. Yet Andaluca stays with their Mediterranean concept. For a while, the restaurant had focused primarily on Spanish food. Now it has been broadened to Mediterranean. "People think Mediterranean means Italy, Spain, France, and Greece. But it's also Syria, North Africa, Turkey. All these food cultures have crossed over and married. We're fortunate the hotel owners allow us this creative freedom. I've added more seasonal items to keep the menu fresh. And the longevity of the space says something about what guests want. We offer consistently excellent food and service."

With Tiffany, you'll hear the words "all-inclusive menu" and "accommodate" frequently. "I believe that no matter what someone's dietary needs are, they should be able to eat out and enjoy exciting flavors. We make sure we can accommodate everyone. I love it when people call or email me to communicate their needs. That way, I can be sure we give them a good experience. We use Mediterranean and local products, local foragers. The Puget Sound Food Hub has been really helpful in connecting us with small farms for produce and cheese."

Communication and "training up" are key to her. "We all come from different places and backgrounds; we don't use the same words when talking about the same things. As I put my career together, I made sure that I worked every job, so I understand what the needs and frustrations are, as well as what works well. I like mentoring people so they learn how to access techniques. For me, there's always a story behind why I do what I do; I don't just say 'do it this way.' People need to believe they can do anything. No matter what their stumbling block is, I don't want it to stop them. Once I know someone and how they learn, I can help them take the next step into a position where I know they will succeed. You can't let your culture/financial background/upbringing stop you from pursuing something."

Petit rib roast

In Hawaii where Tiffany was born and went through high school, cooking was not on her radar. "I didn't know how to cook," she recalls. "I've always had a creative side: art, dance, martial arts. But I did math and science, too. My mother and grandmother were very smart and generous women who encouraged me to be whatever I wanted to be. I always thought I'd go into medicine and moved to Seattle to attend Seattle University in bio pre-med. I failed miserably. I was good in school and wrote great papers, but I always chose my social life first; learning from real life. I finally decided to stop wasting money and dropped out after three years. I wasn't focused. My mom mailed me a pot and a recipe for my favorite stew, how hard could it be? I didn't understand heat conduction and burned it. So I started teaching myself to cook and got a job as a server at Palomino, staying 2-1/2-3 years. I wanted to learn to cook and see kitchen operations. The sous chef let me do that and I trained for pantry. They did 350 covers a night. I survived and was hooked. It was the perfect marriage of science and art, craft and logic for me. I signed up for Portland's Le Cordon Bleu in 2000. It was a 14-month program, but I stretched it to two years to work and take breaks. I had an amazing internship at Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Yountville, California, in 2002. He had business savvy and created beautiful food using specific techniques. After three months, I was hired and stayed a year, moving back to Portland where I worked for Bruce Carey Restaurants, Bluehour and Saucebox. I met my wife Angela in Portland. I had always liked Seattle and knew I would return, so we moved."

Ohana waffle (not Mediterranean, but oh so good with coconut in the batter and toasted macadamia nuts)

Tiffany helped open some friends' restaurant, Tidbit Bistro on Capitol Hill. She cleaned, organized, and hired the chef. She was then hired by Kimpton Hotels and became the executive chef at the Alexis from 2007-2011. "It was awesome and crazy. I was in my early 30s and had gone from being a sous chef in Oregon to an executive chef in Washington. I had no sous chef and had to create my own systems. It was too much, too hard, too fast, but I learned a lot."

Needing a break, she took a private chef job for a basketball player and his family. Before the job started, Executive Chef Sarah Lorenzen at Andaluca hired her as purchasing agent. "I organized things and cleaned up inventory and vendor information for a month, then did the private chef job." Before she left, Sarah told her the executive sous chef job was open. Tiffany told her to fill it if she could, but Sarah held the job for her. Tiffany stayed from 2012-2017.

Andaluca interior

Always looking for stimulation, she attended the Quillisascut Farm school in Rice, Washington, to learn more about farm-to-table. "It made me want to go woofing," Tiffany laughs (Worldwide Organic Farming-you volunteer in exchange for a place to live and meals). Instead, she connected with a woman who owns a restaurant in Provence and needed summer help. Tiffany moved there, living in the home upstairs. "I immersed myself in French culture and spoke French for the summer of 2016. Living somewhere is so different from visiting. Amazing."

Again, her job was held for her. In October 2017 she became the Mayflower Park Hotel's Executive Chef when Sarah moved to FareStart. She manages Andaluca, Oliver's, Suite 410, catering, employee meals, and room service.

Tiffany loves the operational side of things and building systems as well as teams, moving everyone toward the same goal. "I'll always be tied to this industry and food. I want to help people achieve their goals."  

 

Mayflower Park Hotel/Oliver's Lounge
405 Olive Way
Seattle, WA 98101
206-623-8700
www.mayflowerpark.com

Andaluca Restaurant
407 Olive Way
Seattle, WA 98101
206-382-6999
www.andaluca.com

Suite 410
410 Stewart St
Seattle, WA 98101
206-682-4101
suite410bar.com

 

Seasonal omelet

Connie Adams/June 2016


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