Gabriel Claycamp's Barely Legal Meat

Seattle's Rogue Chef Goes Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

Comments

1
It appears as though he thinks the rules don't apply to him. He can't be bothered to get the correct permits and sanctions from local health inspectors to the FDA. He's too busy playing Anarchist Chef and taking chances with other people's health. I have little sympathy for the man.
2
This dude is a douchebag. Chefs ain't sh*t special at all, they're just people who cook food. Wow, they do what McDonald's does. They even think chef is a title when it's really just a job. Douchebag punk.
3
Too bad, good ideas all of em, woulda been a cool long-term staple place. If he could have taken some of that $200,000 and spent it on permitting and such, he coulda been a big hit here. If you leave, you admit defeat friend, if you stay and bless us all with your good cooking (which it is) you and we all, win.
4
I totally support underground restaurants, and the kind of society they represent. I support anarchy bacon, as well, and I trust that Claycamp isn't "taking chances with other people's health" anymore than I am when I cook in my kitchen at home, which has not been sanctioned by local health inspectors or the FDA. (In my opinion, the FDA is the most fraudulent government org. there is.)

I'm not afraid to eat at my friends homes, in restaurants in foreign countries, or "unsanctioned" kitchens anywhere else. I can judge for myself what's suitable for my own consumption, thankyouverymuch.

Cooking is public art. As with any art, no one is forced to partake of it. You don't have to eat Claycamp's cooking if you don't want to. I'd like to try it, though.

Good luck, man.
5
p.s. Douchus, 'Chef' specifically refers to a particular rank attainable in kitchen work, and therefore fulfills the dictionary requirements of being a title insofar as title pertains to: "a descriptive or distinctive appellation, esp. one belonging to a person by right of rank, office, attainment, etc".

In other words, everything you said is completely wrong.
6
I agree with hly...

Tell Claycamp I'll buy his stuff, contact me please.

~flomasterdelux@gmail.com
7
I spent a week in Provence last May with Chefs Gabe and Katie of Culinary Communion, and I have not one ounce of regret. Gabe's talent, energy and compassion are without compare. I am sad to see great friends leaving their Seattle home, and hope to join them again on another culinary journey.
8
I don't see why he couldn't act like a grown-up, like all (OK, most) of the other hard-working chefs and restauranteurs in this city do. If you want to run a business, you have to have the proper licenses. Are some of the requirements bullshit? Absolutely. But you have to play by the rules if you want to stay in the game. Now is no time to let your ego rule your business decisions, as I think this case has proven. I hope he'll soon realize this, as it seems our city would be greatly benefitted by his talent.
9
"He has applied for one job out of state, but he says leaving Seattle would be "an admission of defeat."

In other words, he didn't get the job.
10
I can't believe this jerk is still getting press. Just go away, Gabe. You're done in Seattle
11
He has applied for one job out of state, but he says leaving Seattle would be "an admission of defeat."

In other words, he didn't get the job.

Why are you wasting print on this guy? He's done in Seattle.
12
So what about people who always trumpet the superiority of the free market? If his food made people sick, the demand will drop and he'll lose business. Sometimes, the Health Dept goes too far and sometimes they don't go far enough.
13
I'll be up there ASAP for some of that bacon! And maybe some kitchen goodies if there are any left (not the stove though - don't have the room for that).

Good luck Gabe - please stick around -- and get the damn permits you need so you CAN stick around!!!

14
The commenters who are bitching at Gabe have clearly never met him. The State of Washington should issue him a special license to do whatever the fuck he feels like doing with no questions asked.
15
You know, I'd imagine the whole counter-culture food anarchist thing makes him a pretty cool dude to learn to cook from. He's probably a lot of fun to be around. But, he has three kids! Who don't have a roof over their heads because he can't bother with rules. That's the point where you go from cool anarchist to loser. Sorry.
16
Making bacon is not the same as cooking in your own kitchen, hly! It involves handling raw meat that should be properly tested for parasites and such. Sure you can decide on your own what to eat, but that doesn't mean you're not taking any health risks.
17
blank12357, I don't have to meet him to know he's a douchebag. As geekgirl pointed out, his ego and inability to follow the rules means that his family is homeless next week. I feel very sorry for the kids.
18
douchebag
19
I own a food business. Yes, the licensing and permitting in Seattle are horrendous. But if you don't like them, fight them in court or don't open a business. The arrogance of this jerk to think his specialness and talent excuse him is repulsive. Sounds like karma to me. His judgement is bad- so bad that he ACTUALLY CONSENTED TO THIS ARTICLE, which has basically put his arrogance and bad judgement on display. I don't think I want that guy cooking for me.
20
If he were single, I might applaud his talent while still wishing he'd just get some permits.

If it were just he and his wife and she had been consulted, I'd still maybe applaud him but wish he had thought a little more.

However, there are 3 kids in the mix. I cannot applaud him. He hasn't given any thought to them at all.
21
Isn't this sort-of a con? Getting investors to pay in and sort-of-forgetting to get permits and licenses just at the point of opening? Instead of getting his businesses legal, he was tramping around Provence with Jeannie above? Then none of the day-to-day work of keeping a real business going and the money happens to have run out?

Not saying he's making Madoff dollars and probably nothing he can be criminally charged for, but after the third or fourth time its a pattern. Foodie Grifter anyone?
22
I agree with the general conclusion that this man is a douche bag. We have two CC gift certificates that he refuses to honor or exchange for swinery meat. We have repeatedly sent emails and tried calling. We even went down to CC's 'bacon sale' during the hours that it was supposedly happening and guess what, there was a note on the door saying, 'oh sorry for the confusion, the sale is tomorrow'.... couldn't even make an attempt to email people beforehand. This guy is scum and I'd like to make sausage out of his face.
23
It's not the Swinery, it's the Swindlery.
24
I wonder when we'll get that last whining letter. "Oh, the Gods and Seattle against my brilliance! I have been removed from my home and business through no fault of my own..."
25
...SORRY, BUT IT'S TRUE THAT UNLICENSED, UNINSPECTED KITCHENS SICKEN AND KILL PEOPLE. TOO BAD THIS RENEGADE, BAD-BOY CHEF CAN'T WRAP HIS HEAD AROUND COMPLIANCE WITH SAFETY REGULATIONS - HE SOUNDS LIKE A TALENTED, IMAGINATIVE FELLOW.
26
I have taken a few classes at CC with Gabe. When it comes to culinary creativity and knowledge, I would put him (and his staff) up against most chefs. However, he needs to stay in the kitchen and out of the office.

Poor business decisions has put him in the situation he is in. He can shift the blame it on the Health Department, Liquor Control Board, Fire Department, landlords, neighbors, the economy and the media. But truly it was his arrogance, lack of business savvy, and pride that brought them down. He has a lot of ideas, but very poor on execution. The underlying concept of running a small cooking school is sound, in fact it's one of the top activities even in today's economy.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/arti…

Granted it needs to be done within certain operational parameters. Three pieces of advice.
(1) Leverage (and listen to) the people around you who have the business operations experience and take no short cuts.
(2) Work with government agencies; they are not only protecting the public but also the business owner - regardless of how frustrating or outrageous the request may be.
(3) Make peace with your community, customers and staff - focus and fulfill your commitments.

He and his family should make some humble pie, pack up the knives and move on.
27
Half the money in this broken economy goes to parasites who do nothing but make and enforce rules-FUCK UM and their
rules. this guy makes good bacon.
28
Half the money in this broken economy goes to parasites who do nothing but make and enforce rules-FUCK UM and their
rules. this guy makes good bacon.
29
I think that Gabe is a great chef with amazing potential and original ideas which are sadly few and far between these days. He's just all about the food and not about the paperwork. So he needs a good manager or a paper-oriented sous chef. People have done worse and I agree with Hly. Nobody forces you to eat anything that you dont want to. If you disagree with underground restaurants just dont go eat there. I personally disagree with McDonalds but you dont see me getting out my sharpies and posterboard.
30
SLOT, it's gone so far beyond underground restaurants at this point. The man had 5 businesses and wrecked them all. Culinary Communion, Gypsy, Vagabond, Lunch Counter, Swinery. Then his lies impacted another business - Homegrown.

Bottom line: He knew he was breaking the law all the time. He felt that he was above it. Unfortunately, this means that his innocent children will suffer now. You just can't pull that shit when you're responsible for others.
31
Did he bother getting a marriage license? Big bad anarchist that he is...
32
Just a side note, this is not an isolated case for Gabe and Culinary Communion in Seattle. They were fined because, again, they had not done the necessary legal paperwork for investors. One would think that they had learned from this experience five years ago.

http://www.dfi.wa.gov/sd/orders/S-04-026…

Be wary of any future investments-time or money-with this guy. If they are looking for the sympathy vote, count me out.
33
Gabe and company were soliciting investments AFTER CC closed. Someone on another board said that former students, including ones who were owned money received an email asking for money.
34
Romanticism is dead. Y'all are haters.
35
can't believe i'm reading "what about the children" arguments on the slog.

it's really twisted when the way-left and the way-right hookup like this.
36
Wow -- one look at that clown is all it takes to figure out he is a jackass -- you don't even need the article. I feel bad about what those poor kids have ahead of them.
37
Gabe,

Again, the biggest fuck you you gave everyone else in the artisanal food biz is more attention from the man.
I know a half dozen of us who can't afford all the equipment or improvements to get ALL the permits, or even afford all the permits we are supposed to have.
Yet, we are keeping our mouths shut and our heads down until we can afford all the fees and improvements.
Farmers, chefs, etc. rely on us for biz, employees and partners want to get paid, jobs are on the line. I'd like to get paid this year.
Please go away and take the spotlight with you. Too bad for the next guy who tries to do a great thing with artisanal meat and support some farmers, you have fucked that niche for a while. Good job.
If I get busted by the Health Dept. my first defense is to say that, "I know I'm not in compliance, and we are working hard to get everything fixed, but please give me a break and don't shut us down, WE ARE NOT TRYING TO BE A BIG CRYBABY ASSHOLE LIKE CLAYCAMP!"
38
Tried some of his bacon. It is shit. Not THE SHIT, mind you, but SHIT. If this clown had the talent to actually make good food, all would be forgiven in my book. But to have this kind of douchebaggery coupled with the crap he puts out food wise, it's no wonder he is running out of town with his tail between his legs.
39
I don't know what Gabe's talking about when he says that no one in the city makes good bacon - we've been going to Bob's in Columbia City for years, and it's some of the best bacon I've ever had.

I took the bacon class at CC last summer, and have to agree with laura that their product wasn't that great - in fact, it landed at the bottom of the in-class taste test...AWKWARD! It was at this class - my first and last at CC - that I saw firsthand the general lack of respect Gabe seemed to have for the students there. Despite the fact that we had paid $100 per person to take the class, the instructor announced that she had a quota of bacon she had to sell and we were each expected to buy 3 pounds to take home - at $18/lb. My husband and I both just rolled our eyes and declined the repeated sales pitches - though the instructor was more than a bit icy towards us for the rest of the evening.

I, too, would love to have a job that allows me to do what I am passionate about, but I don't expect anyone else to finance it or bend the rules to make it happen.

Grow the fuck up.
40
The guy is a jack ass.
41
WOW. YOu guys need to get a fucking LIFE. He's ruined, right? Right. So keep your fucking mouths shut and find the next guys to start blasting on. Seriously. "Now the little children have to suffer"????? You don't know whats going on with his family, leave it the FUCK alone.

42
Noneya,

I have done nothing except to state facts based on my own personal experience with Mr. Claycamp. My observations are...His food is tastes like SHIT! I think when a person has to audacity to state "I was pissed off no one in Seattle made good bacon." He opens himself to be criticized for the product he himself puts out. I tried his bacon, I've taken his classes. He is a charismatic fellow who markets himself shamelessly. His food is sub par, amateurish, and no better than what most good home cooks can produce in their own kitchens. These are facts as perceived by myself, a trained professional in the food industry for 20+ years. I feel for his 3 children and the hardship they must go through because their father is such an irresponsible egomaniac.
43
Noneya, Gabe brought all of this on himself. Customers, lenders and the public have every right to comment on the wreck this ass has made of his businesses and life, since he lives for and relentlessly promotes himself as the Second Coming. Turns out, he isn't, actually.

He's just another no-talent conman who uses and abuses everyone around him and is now paying the cost. I wish he'd move far, far away so we never have to hear about him again.
44
There really is no excuse for not getting permits especially given the fact that he knew he was on the bureaucrats' radar. When things fail it's seldom due to just one problem, and it seems CC had several self-inflicted 'management' issues.

I find it interesting how different peoples perceptions are. I like CC bacon, and have 1 or 2 lbs in the freezer.

As to the quality of food, I can't speak for CC, but I think the point of the classes was teaching average people techniques that they could reproduce in their homes. I'm not surprised that a trained professional in the industry for 20+ years didn't take much away from them. I don't think the typical class was geared to that audience, at least the ones I took weren't.

I can't speak to his skills when he personally prepared the whole meal as I never was a part of the underground restaurant scene. But, taking 10 people with widely divergent backgrounds, putting them in a different kitchen from their own, and having them produce the meal under direction isn't going to yield chef results.

I'm aware that there are some people who are very upset at how they've been treated by CC, and if I had the experiences they describe I'd be upset too. I can only say that my experience was positive, and I do know that classes at CC made me a more confident home cook, and demystified several ethnic cuisines that I never would have attempted on my own.
45
Having friends that struggled to open their own small restaurants, and seeing what they went through, I especially resent jerks who think the rules don't apply to them. Why? Because they're special? Because his bacon is better than anybody else's so he should be exempt? Tell it to CassCioppo Brothers. Tell it to Salumi. Hang a shingle and do it right. Plenty of other people have. It's not impossible.

And underground restaurants may be exciting, but my beef has nothing to do with health violations. It has to do with skirting city and state taxes and employment codes. If you're that good, bone up and do it right. Otherwise, you're a selfish punk-ass jerk.
46
Well, he obviously "doesn't know what the fuck he is doing". So, rules are okay for everyone else but him? What an asshole.

And for you losers who support this clown don't go crying to the health department when your doubled over after eating his crappy, contaminated food.
47
is there a shortage of good bacon in Seattle? THAT dude is funny!!!
48
At 16 dollars a pound your bacon needs to be otherworldly. It needs to be able to compete with Nueskies. Dude's shit never did that. Guess what Gabe, I too own a copy of Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman, and I too can mix up some salt and sugar, rub it over pork and call it a day.

Instead of lamenting idiots who steal word space from the local press, we should all try supporting existing purveyors who kick ass, like a writer above mentioned Cascioppo Brothers, Bob's down in Columbia city, Charlie at Zoe's meats, or the good folks at the Puget sound meat producers co-op, who are doing all their legwork in order to sell great pigs, and soon great beef.

Good riddance Gabe, take your overpriced pork, your vacuum sealer, your asinine t-shirts, and head out.
49
Obviously, the people above who like to name call and point fingers don't know anything about cooking or the love of cuisine. I know Gabriel and he is a revolutionary Chef. Please know that someone who is a "Chef" is a trained culinarian who makes sanitation and safety a priority! He would never hurt anyone. Comparing him to a McDonald's cook is ridiculous. I know he will only grow from this and return victoriously.
Kim T.
50
Kim T.

I know for a FACT that numerous trained chefs who cooked for Gypsy REFUSED to work in the Culinary Communion provided location because of sanitary concerns. What does it tell you when numerous trained chefs refuse to use a facility that your "trained chef" uses everyday. BTW, Gabe still owes thousands of dollars to many of these chefs.
51
Gabe and Heidi are actually really neat people with smart ideas. Yes, Gabe has not always been good at following the procedural and bureaucratic stuff and that is where he went wrong. But he's a great instructor, a brilliant chef and an all-around great guy. Better to take the risk and fail at doing something you love, than to just be a pussy. Just sayin'.
52
the Bacon was never 18$, even 16$ is a stretch... When I worked there it was 12$ and often on sale for 10$ a pound, which is very reasonable for this type of product. Gabe is a very charismatic individual...and often you will want to do whatever he asks because you feel like you are part of something...then wonder how you fell for it again when you come out of the trance. He tries to wear too many hats, has poor delegation/manager skills, and is a bit of a headless chicken that works messy if he works at all. Gabe will not go away for good, but he will have to except his role in his demise...you know "own it". So that he is actually learns from this. Time will tell, and I do miss the bacon.
53
i think what happened is totally fucked! the seattle health dept. likes to fist only the good resturant around town, i mean when was the last time you took a strole through china town or the half million pho resturants that im pretty sure im eating feline at. I respect Gabe he stood up for himself against the man and the decided to rape and make an example of him.
i was going to work here until the official shut down, and i got to sit with gabe and shoot the shit. after five minutes i knew that i would i love to work with this guy. he is a brilliant man with great ideas. gabe if you do ever read this i hope find a way to make it happen! bring the butchers back!!! best of luck to you and your family. ~nick de
54
He did not stand up to the man...he lied a few times to the man...and the man has nothing but time to figure out ways to fist the lier.
He had nine or at times more under his employ, plus his family...that is a lot of lives to play with. You can stand up to the man by being legal and make your profit inside the bureaucracy, you can even work to change the laws inside legal parameters. But you can't break the law, then lie to the law, have the law shut you down, then expect to be Robin Hood. This was no .org, giving to the poor robbing from the rich was not the motto... perhaps the latter half was.
55
hickyde, the fact that you accuse Pho restaurants of serving cat completely invalidates anything that comes out of your mouth afterwards.

Gabe is a liar, cheat and moron. You drank the Koolaid and I promise, if you work for him, you will be burned.
56
Ah.... The air in Seattle is clearer, Gabe's gone.
57
Peony,

I drank the coolaid and loved it. If, and I hope when, Gabe comes back, I'll drink more. It's the best tasting coolaid around.

In an ideal world, Gabe will be back with CC, the Swinery, Vagabond, and more cool ideas but will add a business partner strong willed enough to keep him on the path. It'll be a narrow line to walk on. What Gabe's visions needed to be was exactly what they were...just permitted. It'll take a majority owner other than Gabe to make that happen.

I took several CC classes and the only sick I ever got was from gorging myself with all the tasty food. I often felt a crane would be needed to get me out the door.

I had other dinners Gabe prepared. Some I liked, some I didn't. What he did for me was expand what I was willing to try. He opened my eyes to new foods and new ways of preparing old ones. I will never ever eat pork belly again, yuk. But blood sausage, hell yeah!

I miss his bacon, his classes, his stories, and his energy. I hope he's back soon!

58
There were people who tried to keep Gabe on the straight and narrow. It didn't work. It will never work. No matter what his talents are, his ego supercedes all to the point where he ruined several businesses and put many people out of work.

Again - there were people who tried to stop him. He ignored them and forged ahead with his illegal activities. Then he turns on the charm and tries to fool everyone into believing that he's the victim.

He's done. Won't be back. Sorry.
59
Gabe actually did have advice, as well as people entreating him to work within the law. It never took hold. His ego wouldn't permit it.
60
I worked at a seafood shop for awhile and this douche would call and grill me for half an hour about the quality of the fish (when was it caught, tri sodium scallops, can you lower the price,etc) then he'd send his pregnant wife in to pick up 3# of rockfish. Good fucking riddance, baggadouche.
61
I worked at a seafood shop for awhile and this douche would call when I was busy and grill me for half an hour about bullshit fish questions just to see who knew more. Finally his pregnant wife would show up and get 3# of rockfish and maybe a # of mussels.In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre: au revoir le baggedouche.
62
I stumbled across this article and thread by accident, if there are such things.

I attended the Culinary Institute of America with Gabe, was in the same class as him, same block & group(any CIA grads will understand what a block is) and I can say the negative comments in this thread are totally consistent with the Gabe I knew at the CIA from 1998-1999. There is a term for a cook of his caliber: HACK. The guy was a pure hack, a shoe-maker (no disrespect intended to the noble cobblers of the world). The chefs instructors would grill his ass for being such an incompetent student, and when his charm did not work he would whine and cry about being a victim. This is the kind of chef that tarnishes the CIA's reputation. He is not only screwing his clients, employees and family, he is screwing anyone who calls the CIA their alma mater. I am contacting alumni affairs to see if any action can be taken to distance our school from this hack.

I have a question: where is that 400#'s of pork belly in boxes from? Gabe is claiming to be local and sustainable and all the other feel good catchy terms, but I want to know how he procured 400#'s of locally raised sustainable pork belly? You know how many pigs that is? BS, I bet those boxes say Hormel or Swift or Tyson on them. Just another scam.

Be wary, I would not trust his curing procedures. This man lacks integrity. I can't believe I was browsing Seattle restaurants to visit for a business trip I am taking and came across old Gabe, still a silver tongue devil. Yeah, the guy is charming, he has some charisma, he can talk... but he sure as hell is not a true professional chef, he is a hack. Gabe could never handle the line, he was a slob, it is not surprising to see that he had to become a con man to compensate for the fact that his cooking skills were shit. THere is a difference between a hack that can charm some novice cooks and a professional chef.
63
I thought he'd left but no. Apparently forming an alliance with Skillet guy Josh to start up some roving street fair. I can't wait to see the crapfest this turns into! Let's see who he pisses off and misleads next! What a whiner!
64
Gabe is an amazing chef and whether or not his place is "Health Certified" or "Without a Permit" he makes some darn good food. Although.... he needs to get his act together! He has a family to raise here, he can't be Mr. Risk-Taker because now he and his family are probably heading for bankrupt! He needs to do as he is supposed to do, the world is not his oyster! So... Gabe if you are reading this please just realize that you are very talented but you need to know what to do and what not because you can get in HUGE trouble for doing what you have lust done.

P.S. You make the BEST bacon I have ever eaten!