His mother’s famous feasts were a definite influence on Wayne’s
cooking in later years. As a high school and college Greco and Roman
style wrestler, Wayne took to running four to five miles a day to
stay in shape after enjoying “those crazy feast times where
Mom gave me the opportunity to try tastes of so many different types
With the goal of purchasing his first car, Wayne started working
at the restaurant in a local Holiday Inn during high school, beginning
as a dishwasher, bussing tables, and working his way up to prepping.
He headed off to school at the University of Northern Colorado to
study accounting. Three and a half years into cooking his way through
college, he decided to pursue a culinary career, which by his own
account “[became] more fun with each passing year.”
Johnson has served as executive chef at several Bay area hotels.
Most recently he was executive chef for three years at the four
diamond-rated Renaissance Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco. With over
twenty years of culinary experience, Wayne has been a board member
of the Chef’s Association of the Pacific Coast. He has special
training in the foods of Spain from the prestigious Culinary Institute
of America, which serves him well in the Mediterranean inspired
Wayne was lured north and became executive chef of the Mayflower
Park Hotel in 1999. He oversees all food activities for the hotel,
Andaluca Restaurant and Bar and Oliver’s Lounge. At Andaluca,
Chef Johnson gathers fresh local products, and uses the seductive
flavor of Mediterranean spices such as cumin, saffron, paprika and
cinnamon to produce a palate of flavorful menu items. Under his
culinary supervision, Andaluca has won Seattle’s Best Mediterranean
Restaurant award several years running and Seattle Magazine’s
Best Overall Restaurant award. The ZAGAT Survey 2003 listed
Andaluca as one of “Seattle’s Top Mediterranean Restaurants”
as well as being recognized in the top forty for Décor.
Chef Johnson has worked tirelessly in the Seattle area volunteering
for numerous causes including FareStart, a non-profit organization
that trains the homeless for jobs in the food industry; March of
Dimes, which works to prevent birth defects and infant mortality;
PONCHO, which supports the arts; and Fred Hutchinson, a frontrunner
in cancer research. His work for firefighters and homeless kids
is particularly close to his heart. In what has become a holiday
tradition, Wayne selects five local fire stations annually and creates
a homey holiday meal for each. He brings the food to the station
and is always on hand to serve it.
Wayne, who has two young sons, has worked with the University Family
YMCA for more than two years. He prepares meals four times a year
for the organization’s weekly Saturday night “Come Clean
Dinners,” a homeless youth program that serves up to sixty
kids, who live on the streets or in University District shelters.
They are fed dinner, offered a place to take hot showers, supplied
with toiletries, medical aid and counseling.
Wayne’s community service was featured in an article in the
Seattle Times during the holiday season and he was awarded the 2002
Achievement for Community Service award from the Washington
State Hotel and Lodging Association.