Rising Star Chef William Belickis of Mistral - Biography

Seattle, WA

June 2004

For 16 years, William Belickis has labored tirelessly in pursuit of the single goal of owning and operating an exceptional fine-dining restaurant. His training and education began in Rochester, NY, where he worked under the attentive direction of mentor Jerry Vorrasi. 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, 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 and spirit." 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 in Mistral.