The Yarrow Bay Grill in Kirkland has been around since the 80's. Its chef has been manning the kitchens for almost as long.
"So, I haven't been one of those chefs whose moved around a lot and sometimes I regret that but I think it's just my personality."
What keeps Vicky McCaffree motivated?
"It changes throughout the years. For awhile it was just the passion of cooking every day and just being involved with food was enough. And as I get older, what keeps me is all the people I feel like I'm teaching."
Those people are her young cooks, many of whom are looking to open restaurants of their own.
"I kind of wish there were more chef-owned places (on the Eastside). I have a few people in my kitchen now that that's their goal -- they want to have their own restaurants and the Eastside is okay with them. There's a real stigma with being on the Eastside."
It's an area she's seen change a lot since joining Yarrow Bay Grill in 1991.
"You know, just with Microsoft being on the eastside we get a really international clientele here, so that's pretty nice. I like that. And just seeing the eastside grow to be kind of this monster," she laughs.
What has also changed is her approach to cooking.
"My style in general has, I think, gotten simpler. I just try to go for really simple flavors but whatever goes on the plate is made very well."
Her technique is reflected in her dishes, all of which have an international flare.
"So, I don't just do steak and potatoes. We do a lot of Asian, Mexican, Latin flavors and I've sort of trained my cooks to make things fresh and light."
It's a way to spice up the standard dishes her customers have come to expect.
"We sell a ton of meat. You'd think sometimes we were a steakhouse," she laughs.
"Seafood, you know, we sell a lot of fish. A lot of (restaurants) have given up selling Copper River (salmon) when it's in season just out of principle, but we still have people who want it, so, we sort of have to listen to what our guests are asking for."
Places chef McCaffree likes to Go Eat!: Monsoon, Brasa, Flying Fish
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