William Belickis, Chef/Owner
Born and raised in New York City, perhaps the most diverse dining city in the world, Chef Belickis spent his teen years working at Indian restaurants, Neapolitan pizzerias, a country club and a butcher shop. He developed an appreciation early on for the flavors and cooking methods unique to the world’s various cuisines (not surprisingly, both an Indian Tandoor and wood-burning pizza oven are in daily use at MistralKitchen).
At age 20, Chef Belickis turned down a spot at the Culinary Institute of America in favor of going straight to the top to learn from the best: world-renowned chef David Bouley in Manhattan. Bouley, a master of haute cuisine and a chef Belickis describes as “unequivocally like no other”, became a great mentor and friend.
But after two years of working every kitchen station at Bouley, Belickis had another transformative experience when he worked a benefit dinner at Rex Hill Winery outside Portland, OR. His first glimpse of the Great Northwest left him awestruck; he found its clean, cool beauty inspiring and soon returned to explore San Francisco, British Columbia, and everywhere in between. He decided to make the cross-country move, and after so many years in frenetic New York, a brief stint in Cannon Beach, Oregon was restorative; memories of his abrupt transition from Michelin-starred, Manhattan-based Bouley to the elegantly sleepy Stephanie Inn still make him smile.
In 1996 he landed in Seattle (which on earlier visits had won his heart) becoming Chef de Cuisine at Fuller’s, the critically acclaimed dining room at the Sheraton Seattle (no longer operating), then moved on to helm culinary operations at the Salish Lodge, where he implemented seasonal Chef’s Tasting Menus, a concept he would return to again and again in his career. In early 2000, his long time dream of opening a restaurant of his own was realized, and Mistral opened its doors in Belltown.
During its eight years in operation, Mistral was called a “gastronomic temple” by some, as Chef Belickis was afforded the freedom to combine the haute cuisine sensibilites he learned at Bouley with the exploratory, fresh and seasonal approach he developed in the Northwest. Ranking in some publications among the top ten restaurants in the country, Mistral closed its doors in 2008 so Chef Belickis could work on plans for a new, more accessible and experimental restaurant that would have something for everyone…MistralKitchen was born.
Amber Johannson, General Manager
Amber has over a decade of experience in the restaurant industry, and it’s no surprise to Amber’s family that she has made her livelihood in the restaurant industry; she once horrified her mother at the age of nine, by proudly announcing “When I grow up I want to be a bartender!” As a veteran of Belickis’ original restaurant Mistral, she helped to plan and build MistralKitchen in it’s early stages. In addition to the daily operations of the restaurant, she oversees the bar and cocktail program and many of the drinks on the house menu are hers.
She grew up in rural Hawaii and the Olympic Penninsula, spending most of her time outdoors, and she developed a deep appreciation for homegrown food, land stewardship and loves animals. Cooking, gardening and the ocean are passions.
Amber loves to spend time with family and some of her fondest memories involve the simple joys of long dinners and conversation. This love of dining carries over into her work in the restaurant where it is her goal to help everyone create joyful memories of their own.
Kaleena Bliss, Chef de Cuisine
Southwest Washington native Kaleena Bliss charted her path to Seattle via the Culinary Institute of America and kitchens in some of Portland’s most celebrated restaurants. Most recently, Kaleena served as sous chef at the Bainbridge Island restaurant, Four Swallows.
At MistralKitchen, Kaleena’s broad responsibilities include writing menus that incorporate a wide variety of classic and contemporary techniques and ingredients, leading the kitchen staff, and maintaining and building relationships with suppliers. She thrives in the high-pressure
environment of the line and loves adapting the menu daily depending on what’s available and at the peak of seasonality.
Jill Severson, PastryChef
Originally from Spokane, Jill Severson is a graduate of the Pastry Arts Program at the French Culinary Institute in New York. She
has spent time in the kitchen of one of the country’s most famous pastry chefs, Jacques Torres, and
worked at The Essential Baking Company under William Leaman, who now owns Bakery Nouveau.
Having returned to Seattle to start at MistralKitchen, she brings nearly a decade of baking and
pastry experience to the restaurant.