Chef Stuart Lane of Cafe Juanita - Biography

Kirkland, WA

October 2011

Stuart Lane began his cooking career shortly after a revelation that came while watching an episode of Great Chefs of the World on PBS. His first step: to enroll at Bellingham Technical College in Northwest Washington and get a job at a local Italian restaurant.

Two years later he graduated with a culinary arts degree, but decided he needed more focused training—preferably in Italy. He moved to Seattle and saved up for his trip by working simultaneously at Flying Fish under Chris Keff and Steve Smrstik, and Cafe Campagne under Daisley Gordon.

In 2004, he went to Costigliole d'Asti to attend the Italian Culinary Institute in a castle in Piemonte. He later staged at the Hotel Monte del Re in Dozza, Italy outside of Bologna in the heart of Emilia-Romagna. During his time abroad, he made tortellini by the thousands and was immersed in the Italian food culture. Upon returning to the US, he immediately went to Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, Washington looking for work. He told Chef Holly Smith he would check back every week until she hired him—and his persistence paid off. He began working there as a prep cook and moved to pastaoli (pasta guru) in a few months. Today Holly credits him with bringing her pasta program to the next level. Stuart was eventually promoted to sous chef with Jason Stratton, and to chef de cuisine shortly after.