Go Eat! From dropout to top-rated chef

Go Eat! From dropout to top-rated chef
He's one of Food & Wine's Best New chefs of 2009.

"It was kind of blindsiding. I really had no idea," says Mark Fuller, who just opened Spring Hill in West Seattle less than a year ago.

"This area, before it became the business junction, used to be wetlands and it was called Spring Hill Pond."

For someone who lives in West Seattle, the location of Spring Hill was an easy choice. Deciding to become a chef? Not so much.

"I dropped out of high school, I needed a job, and I started bussing tables. I kicked around some kitchens in Seattle for about six years and realized I needed some kind of formal training."

After attending culinary school in New York, Mark returned to Seattle and eventually landed a job working for Tom Douglas restaurants. He was with the company for seven years before opening his own place, offering diners simple food made with locally sourced ingredients.

"Not a lot on one plate. Just kind of trying to highlight the main ingredient, be it halibut, salmon, oysters," he says. "It's just simplicity at it's best and not getting in the way of the food."

More importantly, Mark wants his customers to feel they got a good value.

"I don't think people really know why a dish is amazing or if it's really good, all the little things that go into it; it's all kind of subliminal. I want them to leave (thinking) they had a wonderful meal, you know, that they're not looking at the price tag at the end of it because it costs money to put a nice plate of food together.

"It's important to cook for the customer and give them what they want, but at the same time as the chef and as far as all the cooks go, we have to be happy with what we're cooking as well. I think we're finding a balance."

Places Mark likes to Go Eat!: Monsoon East, Palace Kitchen, Ga Ga Loc.

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