Brian Cartenuto Executive Chef at Queen City Grill
Brian Cartenuto, a Florida native, has returned to Seattle to be the Executive Chef at the iconic Queen City Grill, located in Belltown. Cartenuto’s return is something of a homecoming not only to the city of Seattle, but also to work with Queen City’s new owner, Trevor Greenwood (Greenwood managed Queen City years prior and rescued the restaurant from permanent closure New Years Day 2017). Cartenuto was the original Executive Chef of Greenwood’s first highly acclaimed restaurant venture, Cantinetta, a Tuscan Italian inspired restaurant (located in Wallingford) which opened it’s doors in January of 2008.
Since leaving Cantinetta, Cartenuto has had quite the career. He competed in “The World Food Championships” and also won “The South Beach Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash”, hosted by Rachel Ray in 2016 (he has accepted an invitation to return and defend his title). Cartenuto also has appeared on several popular network cooking shows you may be familiar with such as, Alton Brown’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” (which he won not once, but twice!) & “Beat Bobby Flay”.
Cartenuto’s “Shrimp Toast”
In between attending food championships and celebrity cooking shows for fun, he has manned notable kitchens around the U.S. such as Anthony Bourdain’s “Brasserie Les Halles” (in NYC & Miami). Cartenuto also launched his own boutique chain of craft burger joints in Florida, “Tucker Dukes Lunchbox” with locations in Deerfield Beach, Boca Raton and a “Tucker Dukes Lunchbox” food truck which cruises South FL.
Cartenuto Preparing Tagliatelle Carbornara
Without further adieu, lets meet the man behind it all…
Ushi: “Brian, first of all, welcome back to Seattle. I’m curious as I’m sure everyone else is, how did you get involved with the development of the new Queen City?”
Brian: “A few years ago I ran into Trevor Greenwood while I was vacationing. We just were chatting about old times and I mentioned to him, ‘If you ever need anything you call me first’.
Well, about a year or so later Trevor calls me and tells me the story of how he acquired QCG, and I was hooked. So I came back to helm to bring the Queen City Grill back to the iconic status it was known for.”
Ushi: “How would you say your style of cooking has evolved since you left Cantinetta?”
Brian: “I have grown up a lot, not only in the kitchen, but in life as well. My food has become a bit more refined, but I also focus on food that is satiating, with maybe just a bit of whimsical flair. I have developed more of an art and at ease when in the kitchen and love pastries even more!”
Ushi: “What are you most excited about regarding your return to Seattle & your vision for Queen City moving forward?”
Brian: “The growth in Seattle is awesome, but also daunting, my vision for QCG is to keep it iconic, something for anyone at any given time. A place you take your girlfriend and have food that is familiar to you, but also has a bit of a flair that makes it an ‘event’ when you see it at your table and eat it. At any given moment we struggle with staying true to who we are, but also staying relevant.”
Ushi: “Washington vs. Florida. Give it to me straight, I can take it.”
Brian: “…ha ha ha, this is a question I am going to pull out my political hat on. I really do love both and split my time between both states, as I still have my three Tucker Duke’s (plus more to come) in FL. Also, I’m a FL native, my family is there and I have a great group of close friends.
So, flamingos are in my blood… but that being said, I love Seattle. The food scene is great, the city is growing and I have just as many close friends and social networks here. I can be a bit more food focused here, I love the city and all it has to offer.”
Ushi: “What travel destination is next on your list for culinary inspiration?”
Brian: “Just put me back in the south, like the delta of Mississippi, where blues run free, the black eyed peas are cooking and SEC football is king. I love DC as well, most of my culinary inspirations come from just sitting back relaxing with friends or family and things just pop in my head of, oh I should be cooking this!”
Ushi: “Thank you Brian, we are extremely excited to work with you at Queen City and I am personally most looking forward to this next chapter with your vision & talent at the forefront.”
Brian: “Thanks Ushi, I am super happy to be back in Seattle and creating in the years to come with Queen City Grill and Cantinetta Restaurant Group.”