Meet Seth Bostick, or as we know him, Chef Seth. During the week you can find him at KRMC as the Executive Chef and Thomas Cuisine Management. Outside of KRMC, Seth has been volunteering his time and expertise with CRYJ for over a year, teaching CRYJ youth how to create nutritious and creative meals at Central Kitchen. This year, we are lucky to have him as the Head Chef of our Harvest Dinner. He has already been hard at work crafting a mouth-watering menu featuring local ingredients from the valley, and will be supervising and managing the CRYJ youth in the kitchen the night of the Harvest Dinner.
At our recent Trellis Project Supper Club , I was able to snag his attention and ask him a few questions so we could get to know him better.
Alright Seth, who are you and how did you come to be?
I grew up on a farm in Orofino, Idaho with my grass-roots hippie parents from the Midwest and South. Every day my brother and I would go out and pick it with a salt shaker in one hand and a bag of sugar in the other- sugar for the rhubarb and salt for everything else. So, I’ve always been in love with food. Never has there been a time when I thought I wanted to do anything else. Every job I’ve had since I was 13 years old was in the food industry. I started washing dishes when I was 13 in the winter, and in the summer I’d be harvesting the farm fields. When I was given the opportunity to work within healthcare, I managed to finagle accounts that were into the idea of healthy foods as a healing process. Because of that ideology I was able to cherry-pick where I wanted to be. I began at a community medical center as a chef and then came up here to KRMC through the late president Velinda Stevens, who really believed in healthy food as an integral part to the healing process. Since then I’ve managed nine other hospitals as they’ve gotten into the same program and created food hubs.
I’ve also always loved working with kids and people. So whenever I was given the opportunity to do any sort of a program or go out and play with anybody I took it. It kind of just came naturally to me, I’m not sure why. And that’s just always been a part of what I do. I enjoy food and it’s simple roots. My French culinary background shows up in my cooking technique but it’s not where I end up. I use that technique to pair flavors up, understand them, understand seasoning, but I wouldn’t go as far to say as I doctor up the food so much that you don’t know what it is. I enjoy simple flavors.
What do you love about what you do?
Organics. I love that everything comes out of the ground and it’s imperfect. It’s misshaped. It’s dirty. I love that it requires a tool that we can use as a craftsman. Just the same as a hammer is to a framer, or a paintbrush to a painter, a knife is to a chef. It’s my passion to be able to create, to pair flavors and have it all come together. You want to talk about a stacked deck, there’s 26 different levels before a dish even reaches the table, there’s just so much involved in it. And I love that everyday I learn.
What do you value about community?
I value trust, honor, and ethic, and those are all things that come with a tight-knit community. Those are all things that aren’t taken for granted. You can step into a large city and have tons of convenience and ample amounts of culture around, but you have no connection from one thing to the next. Whereas in a community such as ours, you have a chance to really reach out and touch a little bit of it. It’s nice. And everyone seems to have a genuine buy-in and care about everyone else.
How and why did you get involved with the harvest dinner?
I was introduced to (previous CRYJ Executive Director) Shareen & CRYJ through Jenny Montague who at the time was the Food Service Director for Kalispell Schools. We were both large proponents for the Farm-to-Fork movement. I was interested in how we could foster a collaboration between myself and the school to teach the school kitchens how to use local raw produce. We started this three years ago making pizza dough from scratch and pizza sauce to improve upon what the elementary & middle school kids were being served. Once that happened and was successful, Jenny approached me about CRYJ and Shareen wanting to do a class or something along those lines. A few weeks later I met Shareen & Whitney Pratt for lunch and we started a class within a few weeks of that meeting.
After just one class and I was hooked. The program works with kids that I easily identified with. I was once in their shoes (shoplifting, Jimi Hendrix CD, I was 14) and I did my community service at The Moscow Food COOP. I washed and organized produce and made tofu…I still remember the recipe. I am ultimately honored to help with CRYJ and hopefully inspire & motivate a few of the youths. It’s just an absolute pleasure to take 25 years of culinary knowledge and turn around and show it to somebody.