During that time, Belickis was accepted to the Culinary Institute
of America at Hyde Park, NY, and declined the offer. As he explains:
"Being in the kitchen every day, I already felt the urgency
and necessity of always doing things properly. Going to school only
to be told what I already knew did not strike me as the most efficient
use of my time."
In 1991, Vorrasi brought his protégé to Manhattan
for a meal that would change his life. Belickis describes dinner
at David Bouley’s haute cuisine restaurant as "unequivocally
like no other." Suddenly, Belickis realized what he wanted
for the future.
A tremendous opportunity presented itself shortly thereafter, when
Bouley—fresh from receiving its first four star rating - was
in need of a line cook. Belickis was their man. One of the only
Bouley cooks who was not required to stage, he was immediately hired
by then sous chef Jay Cohen.
A benefit dinner in 1992 at Rex Hill Winery (outside Portland,
Oregon) brought Belickis to his first West Coast audience. Awestruck
by the beauty of the surrounding landscape, he returned to tour
the Pacific Northwest region later that summer. Belickis explored
everything the West Coast offers, from San Francisco to British
Columbia, but it was Seattle that called to him. As he describes
it, among the Puget Sound cargo ships and loading docks, he could
feel the spirit of his paternal grandfather, a New York City longshoreman,
who had bequeathed to his grandson his love for the sea.
But it would be four years before he would settle in Seattle, and
his course there would be a circuitous one. In 1994 Belickis moved
to Oregon, armed with two years’ experience working every
kitchen station at Bouley. He accepted the position of sous chef
at the Stephanie Inn at Cannon Beach on the spectacular Oregon Coast.
After cleansing his mind and spirit in this tranquil town by the
sea, Belickis rejoined the urban restaurant scene in 1995 by way
of two Portland restaurants, the intimate and respected Couvron,
and the trend-setting and wildly popular Wildwood. Finally, in 1996,
Belickis migrated north and assumed the title of chef de cuisine
at Fullers, the four-star dining room at the Sheraton Seattle, where
he worked with celebrated chef Monique Barbeau.
After two years as first officer at Fullers, it was time for this
talented cuisinier to assume command. As executive chef at the Salish
Lodge & Spa at Snoqualmie Falls, WA, Belickis honed his creative
and directorial skills. His tenure at the Lodge resulted in the
implementation of the seasonal and daily Chef’s Tasting Menus,
a complete kitchen redesign, and a $250,000 profit increase for
the year. Having quickly accomplished these tasks, and having mastered
the art of command, Belickis grew eager for an even greater challenge.
In early 2000, William Belickis realized his long time dream when
Mistral opened its doors to Seattle’s Belltown district, offering
a much-needed respite from the frenetic urban milieu. While acknowledging
that, at its most basic level, the act of eating functions to maintain
one’s physical well-being, Mistral extends the concept further:
"When we dine," Belickis notes, "we have the rare
opportunity to explore, with all our senses, deeper levels of soul
Belickis’ philosophy affects all aspects of Mistral. From
the superb cuisine to the impeccable service, from the décor
of the dining room to the texture of the menu, Mistral embodies
its creator’s sixteen years of training and preparation, lending
stunning testament to well-crafted art, and a reputation well-earned.
Belickis delivers to Mistral an impressive record of achievement.
He remains steadfastly committed to an elegant, soulful cuisine.
With expert culinary technique, fierce creative drive, and inimitable
style and grace, Belickis has realized a truly singular dining experience