What’s the buzz at The Fairmont Olympic Seattle Hotel? Bees? Yes! For the last three years, Executive Chef Gavin Stephenson has been Chief Beekeeper to the hotel’s hives located on the roof—and devised a myriad of creative ways to showcase the honey throughout the hotel’s restaurants.
The concept of ‘urban honey ‘was explained by Executive Chef Gavin Stephenson who keeps the bees,“Bees travel up to six miles from their hive to bring back an array of different nectars, which is why ‘urban honey’ is so interesting and complex,” . And if you were wondering what sort of honey results from foraging for flowers among the cement and gray Seattle sky? Just know it is “ delicious” honey.
Chef’s hives produce enough honey to delight the Olympic’s guests throughout the hotel. Served at the famous Georgian Afternoon Tea in beautiful little jars to slather on their signature scones with clotted cream, with a signature blended Fairmont tea is the most delightful way to while away the afternoon in the elegant room. A jar is sometimes tucked into a special occasion welcome amenity in the rooms and suites. There are drinks and sauces and desserts and gelées made with it on The Georgian Room’s menu too. And outside the hotel ? This honey has also been incorporated into beer brewed in partnership with local craft brewer, Pike Brewing Company.
Born in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, Stephenson began his culinary training at age 17 in the kitchens of the Savoy Hotel in London, (now managed by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts). He furthered his culinary training at what is now Le Cordon Bleu before honing his skills as Sous Chef at the Mobile Five Star restaurant Aujourd’hui at Four Seasons Hotel Boston and as Executive Sous Chef at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago. His training also included the kitchens of Prince Al Waleed Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.
He has been The Fairmont Olympic Seattle’s executive chef since 1999, receiving the prestigious Acorn Award for best British chef under age 30, an award presented to only two chefs in Europe each year. Chef Gavin has cooked his inspired cuisine for James Beard House dinners five times. An avid marathoner, Gavin credits running with keeping his energy level high in the kitchen. His respect for “eating clean” albeit with the occasional indulgence has lead to a . consultancy with other Fairmont chefs across the brand helping develop the popular guest favorite “Fairmont Lifestyle Cuisine” menu.
In speaking to Chef Gavin about his hives and colony you feel immediately his genuine respect for his bees and it is also evident he has a deeper concern for the bees on our planet. It is his hope that each of us realize the role we play in preservation and support of bee colonies. See article on “Plight of The Bees.”
Try Chef Gavin Stephenson’s recipe for “Native American Candied Salmon” on this website.