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Smith shake-up: Chef Guthrie and manager out

Via A Life of Food, we learned of a shake-up in the kitchen at Linda Derschang’s Smith.  Here is an excerpt from ALF: 


I can reveal that last night, November 28, 2009, was Eliot Guthrie’s last night as chef at Smith. This is heartbreaking news, but I trust owner Linda Derschang has another good chef lined up.

The post goes on to note that Smith’s manager Keara Matthiesen has also been let go. Update: When originally published, we described the exit of Matthiesen and Guthrie incorrectly. Linda Derschang contacted CHS to let us know the employees were not let go. She told Seattle Met it was their ‘own decision to leave.’

We have asked Derschang and Guthrie for comment.

While not an exact parallel, the episode brings to mind the last Derschang-related shift in a Capitol Hill kitchen. In April, CHS documented the break-up of the partnership Derschang had formed to create Oddfellows with Ericka Burke. Burke, one of the duo behind Volunteer Park Cafe, left as head of the Oddfellows kitchen in a split both she and Derschang described as ‘amicable.’  “Neither one of us knew that what we were planning was too much,” Derschang said in April. “It’s a blessing that Oddfellows is so busy but it was a little more than anyone expected.” Burke continues to help run Volunteer Park Cafe while Oddfellows has continued to draw crowds and has been mostly free of the early criticism of its food.

Guthrie’s work at Smith, on the other hand, has been mostly praised. We’ll keep checking with Derschang and Guthrie to find out what brought about the change.

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11 thoughts on “Smith shake-up: Chef Guthrie and manager out

  1. Never tried it. I looked in one time and decided – no.

    Musical chefs? Linda may be having some problems keeping volume up in this economy – how many joints? – she has a big operation to sustain.

    Interesting how she hit the mark with Oddfellows Cafe. Very low side environment, prime location with park and easy to find and buses – just what was needed on the Hill as all the rest was going up scale. The place is relaxed, decent food, decent prices, nice help.

    (don’t bother to change your shirt, the dress is whatever is on your back and butt.)

  2. I met friends at Smith once for drinks. Never again. Me personally, I don’t want to sit there staring at a bunch of dead animal heads. I’d rather have a drink anywhere else but at Smith.

  3. I’m so happy that they are changing chefs. I’ve eaten there on a few different occasions and it was very clear that the person on the grill did not know how to cook a piece of meat. Anytime I asked for my hamburger medium, it came out rare. At first I thought it was just a fluke, so I came in again and requested my burger cooked medium and again it came out rare. I even tried a steak special they had once and it came out rare as well.

    I’m not the only one with this experience and had my friends and I not loved the servers and bartenders we probably wouldn’t keep coming back. I’m hoping the next chef can teach the line cooks how to properly cook a piece of meat.

  4. The food at smith is, at BEST, passable. The chef may have come up with some interesting dishes, but the hipster idiots he has cooking for him manage to bungle almost every offering. the salt cod fritters are undersoaked, leaving them too salty and gritty, the poutine fries are limp and drowning in flavorless gravy, everything fried is either soaked in grease or overdone…there’s more, but the only people who would praise the food at smith are clearly used to eating at taco bell.

  5. I eat at Smith about three or four times a week, and I haven’t eaten at Taco Bell since I was in college (the Coolidge administration). My sense is that your criticism is overreaching. If you don’t like it, that’s entirely fine, but to tar those who do — from really nothing other than a position of ignorance — is regrettable.

  6. Five years as a chef locally is hardly a ‘position of ignorance’ Todd. The food isn’t great. It’s barely good. The fundamentals are there, but the preparation and presentation knock it down to ‘edible’ rather than ‘memorable.’ If you eat there constantly, that’s fine. Go try one of these dishes at a place where the kitchen staff is more concerned about the flavor and quality of their food, rather than whether or not they are going to get bang the new server, and you’ll find that Smith’s food is…mediocre. At best.