Category Archives: Lark: Cooking Against the Grain

Cooking Against the Grain

| June 17, 2013



Cooking Against the Grain by Chef John Sundstrom tells the story of Lark Restaurant and cooking through the seasons of the Pacific Northwest. Filled with delicious recipes and beautiful photographs, the book showcases the local seasonal cuisine that has made Lark a Northwest destination!

John Sundstrom trained at New England Culinary Institute, in Montpelier, Vermont. Prior to NECI, John apprenticed for 4 years under Chef Yasuyuki Shigarami, classically trained in Japanese cuisine and sushi.  After graduating from culinary school, John spent the next few years working in some of the country’s finest resort hotels, including; the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, Club XIX (Lodge at Pebble Beach) and Stein Ericksen Lodge.

In Seattle John worked at raison d’etre cafe, Campagne, and Café Sport, beginning his education into Northwest farmers and foragers.  He was Chef de Cuisine at Dahlia Lounge, working closely with owner Tom Douglas developing the restaurant to one of national prominence.

In 1999 John spent several weeks in Japan, exploring, tasting and researching Japanese food and culture. In October and November of that year, he also went on a working tour of some of New York and San Francisco’s finest kitchens, a sort of “Culinary Graduate School”. john180Following these inspiring and educational travels, John returned to Seattle with a renewed sense of purpose, new ideas and techniques, and a greater understanding of excellence.  From the Dahlia Lounge’s Pacific Rim ingredients to a stint at Carmelita, a vegetarian Mediterranean restaurant, John began to invest in organic, foraged, and heirloom ingredients and flavors. In 2000, he happily reintroduced fish and meat to his repertoire when he took over at Earth & Ocean, and within 6 months John was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef’s for 2001. In the 3 years that John was chef at Earth & Ocean, the restaurant thrived.

John has been featured on the Food Network’s “Best of“ Show as well as ”Food Nation”. Also John was featured in the PBS original series “Chefs a-field”, which was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2003. John was named “Best Chef Northwest” by the James Beard Foundation in 2007, following nominations in 2005 and 2006.

John opened Lark in 2003 on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, with his wife, JM Enos and partner Kelly Ronan. Lark is an artisan focused restaurant serving dinner, and one of our personal faves!

You can purchase the book three ways.  It is available in hard copy format, via Kindle and as an iPad application.  In fact, Kindle offers a beautiful description of the copy-

James Beard award-winning chef, John Sundstrom, has written a culinary homage to the Pacific Northwest, which is his home and the source of inspiration that is showcased at his Seattle restaurant, Lark.  His new self-published cookbook, Lark: Cooking Against the Grain, celebrates the distinctly moody and majestic Northwest and its bounty of ingredients, telling the story through over 140 recipes with full color photographs.

“When I began work on this book, I knew it needed to be firmly located in the Pacific Northwest, my chosen home.  It feels to me that we have three distinct seasons of food: Mist, Evergreen and Bounty. Within each, there are waves of seasonal foods; there are fewer in the long grey months of Mist and we treasure them dearly.  Evergreen comes on slowly, the forests and farms waking up from a long wet winter to unfurl their leaves and hope for some sun.  Then for a brief window in the late summer and early fall, we struggle to keep up with the season of Bounty.  The choices are overwhelming and in the kitchen we try to stay out of the way and let each ingredient sing.” – Chef John Sundstrom

The book is organized according to the three seasons that the chef identifies with the Northwest: Mist, Evergreen, and Bounty.  The recipes are amply annotated with head notes in which Sundstrom shares both cooking tips and personal anecdotes.  In addition, recipes are grouped according to 75 complete plates or dishes, mimicking the format of Lark’s menu.  Customer favorites like Duck Leg Confit with Wild Rice Polenta; Rosti Potatoes with Clabber Cream and Paddlefish Caviar; Sunchoke Soup with Truffled Sunchoke Chips and Dungeness Crab Salad with Green Apple and Celery are all included in the recipe collection.

All photographs in the book were taken by local Seattle artist Zack Brent.  Raised in southern Indiana on rural subsistence living, Zack inherited the practice of finding, cultivating, and preserving food which has slowly but surely merged with his love of image making.  Zack was trained as an architect at Ball State University and received a Master’s degree from the University of Washington in photography.










For more information, visit Lark’s website, and be sure to follow them on Facebook and twitter!