2015 Seattle Rising Star Restaurateurs Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang of Joule, Revel and Trove

2015 Seattle Rising Star Restaurateurs Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang of Joule, Revel and Trove
November 2015

3506 Stone Way North
Seattle, WA 98103

403 North 36th Street
Seattle, WA 98103

500 East Pike Street
Seattle, WA 98122



Before becoming Seattle’s formidable husband-wife chef duo, Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi were en route to more traditional careers: Yang at Brown University and Chirchi at the University of Illinois. Both ended up leaving their initial majors behind to study cuisine at the Institute of Culinary Education and Western Culinary Institute, respectively. Yang honed her techniques while working in New York City’s restaurants—such as Per Se—and met Chirchi while both were cooks at the now closed Alain Ducasse at the Essex House.

After moving to Seattle in 2006, the couple opened Coupage. Between love and ambition, the two left the following year to open their own restaurant, Joule, which received critical acclaim. In its first two years, the restaurant scored a three-star review from The Seattle Times and won a tough, televised competition in Kitchen Stadium against Iron Chef Jose Garces on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.”  In 2010, Yang and Chirchi opened Revel, followed by Trove, which features a noodle bar, Korean BBQ, and a parfait window. With a James Beard “Best Chef, Northwest,” nomination, their nontraditional twist on Korean cuisine, their remarkable work ethic, and stance on equal wage, the Yang-Chirchi team is a model for restaurateurs and chefs alike. 

Interview with Seattle Rising Star Restaurateurs Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang of Joule, Revel, and Trove

Sean Kenniff: How did you get your start?
Seif Chirchi:
I waited tables at a restaurant in Illinois during college and then got an opportunity to cook in the kitchen.
Rachel Yang: During culinary school I worked at Whole Foods. I mainly worked there to learn butchery.

SK: When did you open your first restaurant?
We came to Seattle to open a restaurant for someone else, Seif's colleague. At that time we were ready to get married and get out of New York anyway, so it was a really exciting and big step for us. His management style just didn't work out for us, so we decided to break out on our own.

SK: Who are your mentors?
I learned a lot at my first job at DB Bistro. I learned so much about how a really busy restaurant with a tight kitchen and high quality food is run. It was really a good place to start. Thomas Keller, of course was influential. His attitude and how hard-working he is. He was the first one to empty out the garbage and take it out. That was very profound to me.

SK: What is your management style?
We can't be at our restaurants 24/7. You have to talk to everybody from the dishwasher to the cooks and front of house to make sure they are inspired to do the work. You can't watch over them all the time. You have to have trust.

SK: What's the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
Once you dig deeper, there's always more to do. It never ends, which is probably true about a lot of jobs. It's hard not being able to spread yourself to meet all those needs and strike a balance with other parts of your life.
RY: Three restaurants and two little boys is a lot. It's crazy and there's a ton of shit going on, but life is good.

SK: What's your five year plan?
We don't have any concrete plans, but there's always that ambition to open more restaurants and grow. We need different creative outlets to evolve, get better, and further yourself.
RY: Five years ago we never would've imagined being here. The fun and art of it all is that life is unpredictable. You can't really plan. We don't even know what will happen in a year! We love what we do, but as we get older, it's only going to get harder, physically. But we both can't imagine not being in the kitchen.

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