2015 Seattle Rising Star Pastry Chef Baruch Ellsworth of Canlis

2015 Seattle Rising Star Pastry Chef Baruch Ellsworth of Canlis
November 2015

Often where you begin and where you end up, don’t quite line up. Baruch Ellsworth was born in Mexico, grew up in San Diego, and began his career studying architecture. Now he’s at the helm of one of the most dynamic pastry programs in the country—1,300 miles from Oaxaca.

The fact that the detail-scrutinizing and structural harmonies of architecture appealed to Ellsworth isn’t surprising—nor is that he was able to transition that attention to his role in pastry. Moving to San Francisco in 2002, he began in the savory kitchen as an extern at Campton Place working with Daniel Humm.

Ellsworth’s next step took him to The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, where he worked under industry veteran Ron Siegel who among others, became a mentor. Throughout his training, Ellsworth was also able to flip back and forth between savory and pastry, something that appealed to Corey Lee, who hired Ellsworth to help him open Benu.

By the time he got to Canlis in 2011, Ellsworth was squarely, and passionately, a pastry chef. As he continues to innovate at Canlis, throwing umeboshi or burnt sake lees curve balls—Ellsworth still knows when to let a peach be a peach. With loyal guests, and a vision for his staff to follow, Ellsworth would be the future of pastry in any city.


Interview with Seattle Rising Star Pastry Chef Baruch Ellsworth of Canlis

Sean Kenniff: How did you get your start?
Baruch Ellsworth:
I started in San Francisco on the savory side. I was living in the city and being irresponsible and having fun, but also working. I've matured a lot. I'm committed to pushing limits but also realize that it's not just about unique creativity. You have to make a living with what you're doing. In San Francisco, I worked at Campton Place when Daniel Humm was there—and Jason Franey, Kris Kostow, Michael Golina who's now the chef de cuisine at Stone Barns—and then the Ritz Carlton under Ron Siegel. I flipped to pastry while working for Corey Lee at Benu.

SK: Who are your mentors?
Garrett Melkonian of Mamnoon. He was a really good teacher, strict. Alex Espiritu who now works at Valrhona was a great influence while I was at the Ritz. I wasn't with Corey Lee for very long, but he showed me how to see ingredients and cook like a chef. I learned a lot about how to keep a kitchen from Ron Siegel. He was also really strict, but warm and kind at the same time. He was thoughtful about the people he chose to have around him. He showed me how to be passionate and driven without sacrificing my humanity.

SK: What's the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
Being too busy. It's a good problem to have, but still a challenge. Keeping up with business, numbers wise and providing that level of hospitality is hard. We have a lot of turns of the dining room, which affects everything. If it was just 30 people a night, I could do it myself. But we have 150 covers, so I have to depend on others to help me. I've really learned how to be a chef: manage people and have a vision that others can follow.

SK: How do you describe your style?
I like Asian ingredients. Who doesnt? I like using ingredients that people are not accustomed to in this part of the world. Old people her like banana and chocolate, so then I'll include a few curve balls. Peanut and miso work together, nuts and bananas, and we go from there. There's a Japanese influence here, too. It primarily comes from Hawaii, but Peter Canlis visited Japan, as well, and enjoyed the service and hospitality, and wanted that for his restaurant. And in the 1950s people we're not hiring Japanese employees, but Canlis did.

SK: What's your five year plan?
Hopefully I'll have my own place in Seattle. My wife works at London Plane. We're fortunate to have landed these jobs because there's an incredible amount of support and success in both places. I want to combine our efforts and create something that touches upon both our talents: part bakery, patisserie, and restaurant. 

Related Links