Coming off 10 years as executive chef at Chateau Marmont, the seductive and storied Hollywood hang-out, Carolynn Spence could undoubtedly do some dishing — not to mention regale with tales of the long list of culinary stars who groomed her career along the way. But Spence, now executive chef at Shaker + Spear in Seattle’s up-and-coming Belltown neighborhood, prefers to keep her dishes where they're appreciated most … on the table.
For Shaker + Spear, Spence has drawn upon her incredible 25-year career to put a distinct polish on casual comfort food and oceanic fare, making her bistro-style burgers as appealing as her refined seafood options. But Spence nearly missed her calling. At Northeastern University in Boston, she studied journalism and advertising until a course-related internship changed her mind. Spence realized office life would never match her passion for food and cooking. Soon after, she landed her first cooking job working for barbecue and grilling pioneer Chris Schlesinger at his East Coast Grill in Cambridge, Mass.
From there, Spence’s career blossomed as she learned the ropes under a series of celebrity chefs. She spent many years in New York City as a sous chef for Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill, Patricia Yeo at AZ, and Danny Meyer at Blue Smoke; the latter two restaurants she helped open. In 2004 she was chef de cuisine on the opening team of the Michelin Star-rated The Spotted Pig, working with Executive Chef April Bloomfield. And in 2006, Spence became the executive chef, overseeing all restaurants, room service, pastry and events at Chateau Marmont.
During her career, Spence has opened and worked for some of the country’s best restaurants and worked dauntlessly to make them successful under her leadership. That’s a dish she’s sure to be remembered for.