2015 Seattle Rising Star Community Chef Brandon Pettit of Delancey

2015 Seattle Rising Star Community Chef Brandon Pettit of Delancey
November 2015

Not all chefs are inspired by their parents’ cooking. Brandon Pettit's parents weren’t stellar cooks, so he took over early on, even looking to friends’ grandmothers for recipes.

However, Pettit didn’t begin his culinary career right away. He attended Brooklyn College, and with his degree in music, taught for 5 years. And living in Brooklyn, Pettit was introduced to great New York pizza.

Pettit’s culinary training took him from Phoenix to New York to Portland, and finally to Seattle, where he worked at Boat Street under the influential Renee Erickson. He loved the eclectic, community-oriented culinary culture of Seattle, but he realized it was missing something essential: pizza.

Enter Delancey, a neighborhood restaurant with a chef at the helm who not only invites the community in, but also shares his recipes with them. Even in a community as reciprocally caring as Seattle, Pettit’s style stands out: he mentors fellow chefs, helps them open restaurants, and teaches balance and community wherever he can.

But Pettit isn’t just helping others expand: always interested in distilling, he and his wife opened a craft cocktail bar next door to Delancey called Essex in 2013, where Pettit makes his own Fernet and gentian. Doing everything in-house and hands-on may seem characteristically Seattle, but Pettit is helping the city and his fellow chefs curate a truly involved, farm-supported (and supportive), culture.

Interview with Seattle Rising Star Community Chef Brandon Pettit of Delancey

Sean Kenniff: How did you get your start?
Brandon Pettit:
I started cooking because my parents weren't great cooks. I would call up my friends' grandmothers and ask for recipes.

SK: Who's your mentor?
Chris Bianco in Phoenix. Dom DeMarco of DiFara's in New York. I went there every day while getting my music degree at Brooklyn College.

SK: What's the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
Learning how to manage people: hiring and firing. Keeping everyone happy.

SK: Is there anything you would've done differently?
I used to be a music teacher, and it took me a few years to realize I was a teacher in the kitchen, too. For five years I made every single pizza in this place, but other areas suffered. Then I started to step back and teach and realized that owning a restaurant is like being a teacher.

SK: How are you involved in the local culinary community, and what is your role in it?
Seattle is pretty awesome. Seattle is really into character. We don't care about the awards and stars. Chefs here will help you with anything. It's a really awesome community. I've helped a lot of other friends open restaurants and businesses, and I think that's my role in the industry. A lot of my energy goes into consulting for people I know for free. I like to help by giving them courage and teaching them how things work.

SK: What's your five year plan?
I'd like to open another restaurant on Capitol Hill. A pizza parlor up front and then a bar in the back. I'd also like to move into the craftsman side of things instead of artistic. Making simple things the best they can possibly be. I'd also like to get into the development side like buying buildings and doing what Matt Dillon did and then helping to curate the space and cultivate businesses. 

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