Chef Brian McCracken - Biography

September 2016

Brian McCracken and Dana Tough opened SPUR Gastropub in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood in the summer of 2008. The friends’ collaboration dates back to their time in the kitchen at Earth & Ocean restaurant, where they worked together under chef Maria Hines (2009 Rising Star Sustainability Award winner). Tough, a Montana native of Cuban heritage, has spent a dozen years cooking in the Puget Sound region. After graduating from the culinary arts program at South Seattle Community College, he began with the opening of Waterfront Seafood Grill with his first mentor, Vicky McAfree, and in 1999 went on to Tulio with Chef Walter Pisano. From there, Tough was sous chef at Bandol and then lead cook at Earth & Ocean. When Hines left to open Tilth, Tough came along as chef de cuisine. McCracken was born into a family of fishermen, farmers and restaurateurs. He graduated from Western Culinary Institute and has staged at Eleven Madison Park in New York and worked at Silks in San Francisco, Restaurant Nora in Washington, DC, and at Earth & Ocean in Seattle. Prior to opening SPUR with Tough, McCracken launched Flyte, a catering company which offered tasting menus for private dining experiences on location in Washington State. SPUR is considered a bar by Seattle law and as such is 21-and-over, hence the “gastropub” title. The food, however, can reach a level of creativity and elegance that makes for a highly evolved and exciting gastropub experience.

Since SPUR, the duo has added two restaurants and an events space to their eponymous collective: The Old Sage, Tavern Law, and the Coterie Room. The 2009 Seattle Rising Star Chefs are training the next generation of cooks, including 2015 Rising Stars Cameron Hanin, Jeff Vance, and Seth Sempre. They’re models for growing a single, chef-driven restaurant into a  group integral to a city’s dining culture. For their influence among a lengthy list of young cooks, the duo received a 2015 StarChefs Mentor Award.