A teenage dishwasher then line cook then head chef, Alex Marek has made (and seen) a lot of food in his culinary career. Most of it he makes look easy.
From Salt & Iron's perfect oysters to fresh fish to big flavored soup bowls to stacked burgers to savory steaks-- it's the quality food that has inspired Alex and allowed his creativity to shine.
Being a chef is not for the uninitiated or lazy or corner cutters. True cuisine starts and ends with the chef and that is why we have Alex running the kitchen.
Oozing talent with a laser-focus on quality ingredients, Alex has shaped Salt and Iron into the premier Edmonds restaurant and a must stop for most any night out. So make that reservation now!
Just don't order anything well done.
Cooking since: 2006
I knew I wanted to work in a kitchen when: I started in a kitchen at 16 as a dishwasher and enjoyed the atmosphere in the kitchen, the comradery. I worked three jobs to pay for community college while taking classes full time. Cooking came easy to me and I enjoyed it. As I was getting ready to graduate and transfer to a university I got offered a job opening a deli. I looked at what jobs I could potentially get if I continued school but none sounded as appealing as cooking, so I took the leap and never looked back.
Proudest accomplishment in the kitchen: Opening Salt and Iron.
Define the perfect meal or dish: The perfect meal is when you are craving something and you know exactly what you want, you can see it in your mind. You spend time making it just right and it comes out exactly how you envisioned it.
Most unusual dish request: An omelet was requested dry but moist…. Pretty much an impossible request. I knew no matter how I cooked it the guest was not going to like it. We remade it 4 times…
I find inspiration in: Good local products.
At the end of my shift I eat/pour myself: risotto and bourbon
Favorite thing about working in the kitchen: being able to be creative on a daily basis.
Least favorite thing about working in the kitchen: Really long hours and stretches without days off.
Favorite meal/dish to make: I really enjoy cooking Mexican food.
I’d be happy never making another: Well done steak
The one thing I wish more people understood about cooking: Is the cost of good ingredients. Supporting local and using quality ingredients isn’t cheap, so when people complain about dishes being too expensive it can get a little frustrating.
If chefs had superpowers, mine would be: Not really a super power, but being able to do many different jobs, cooking is only maybe ½ of my job. I am an accountant, a plumber, an electrician, a handy man, a janitor, a promoter, a photographer, a writer, and I have to take care of HR issues as well.
The best piece of cooking advice I’ve ever received: Never put out food that isn’t perfect. The guest will wait the extra 10 minutes to redo a dish if its perfect, they won’t forgive you if it’s overcooked or wrong.
One thing I tell others about cooking: Spend time cooking, explore, change recipes, try new things, anyone can be a good cook with a little time and effort.
Desert-island dish/meal: Carnitas
If my kitchen shifts had a theme song it’d be: Ain’t no rest for the wicked
BY Contributing Writer Michael Dempsey