Culinary Feature of the Month – Meet Tristan Chalker, Returning Sous Chef at AQUA by El Gaucho
We are excited to feature the talented people behind the scenes – those who create and prepare the tasty treats that we all get to enjoy in our restaurants. We will be introducing you to the gifted and passionate individuals who make up our culinary team. Bon Appétit!
“I am really not sure why I chose to become a chef. In fact, I think it chose me,” says Tristan Chalker, AQUA by El Gaucho’s newly appointed Sous 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, ended up in Seattle, and found his way to Bluwater Bistro, where he met the person who would become his mentor. “He shaped who I am now both personally and professionally,” Tristan says. He moved from there to open up Geraldine’s Counter in Columbia City, and in June 2006 he joined his mentor again, but this time at Troiani, part of the Mackay Restaurant Group (now El Gaucho Hospitality) for a few years. He was promoted to Sous Chef at AQUA in 2010, only to leave after he was offered the 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, so he returned “home” to AQUA last month as Sous Chef once more.
Tristan, or T-Bone, or simply T, is known for being sarcastic. Besides cooking, he enjoys snowboarding, camping, hiking, and just about anything outdoors. He met his “lady,” Heide, at Troiani (she was a server, and he was a cook), and they have four daughters, including twins, as well as two cats. At home, Tristan loves to make pork posole. “I may be white, but my heart is Mexican,” 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.” His favorite part of working at AQUA? “They are my second family,” he explains. And we are excited to welcome him back as part of ours!
Visit Tristan and the rest of the AQUA team – open every day at 4pm for Happy Hour; dinner service begins at 5pm.
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