Matt Selby is back on his game with renewed energy -- and a new menu -- at Central Bistro & Bar
All photos by Lori Midson. A happy Matt Selby, along with the crew of Central Bistro & Bar.
Late last November, when Matt Selby exited his executive chef post at the Corner House, an irresistibly charming restaurant in Jefferson Park co-owned by James Iacino, president of Seattle Fish, he stepped away from the spotlight, quietly doing time in the kitchens of Beast + Bottle and Jonesy's EatBar and pausing to reflect on his priorities. "I needed to take some time to find myself and figure out what was most important to me," admits Selby. "And what means the most to me," he says, is "cooking, getting my ass kicked on a Friday and Saturday night and working with people that I can collaborate with."
All of which he has found at Central Bistro & Bar, where he's now the executive chef, collaborating, he says, with a galley full of pros and a solid management team, led by owner Isiah Salazar and general manager Seth Murty.
"We knew we had to get someone in the kitchen with a sense of leadership and someone who pushed conversations and let everyone have a voice, and I've always looked up to Matt, and when we sat down to chat, we just hit it off; it was a really great fit from the get-go, and I knew that he'd inspire and lead what's already a talented kitchen," says Salazar.
"I'm not a one-man jam," confesses Selby. "I need to be able to bounce ideas off of people," he stresses, "and I need to be on the line, cooking, touching every ingredient and sitting down with my really talented crew, including my two awesome sous chefs, and having brainstorming sessions -- asking questions, like 'Which restaurants have you recently been to?'; 'Where have you traveled?'; 'What are you reading and what are you exited about?'" The confabs, he adds, are "more like coffee conversations," and from those, new menus emerge.
And Selby has just released his first menu at Central, a spring board that he describes as "simple and clean with an emphasis on technique and putting great flavors together that celebrate the top of the season," a time of year, he notes, that's "all about tying together early spring produce and late winter's bounty."
It's not the easiest transition, admits Selby, but it's one that he wholly embraces. "I love the challenge of playing with the Colorado weather patterns," he says. "One day it's sunny, while the next day, we have sideways snow, but I love that, and it gives me the opportunity to showcase spring and winter ingredients in innovative ways."