Thierry Rautureau, nicknamed The Chef In The Hat, is the Executive Chef and owner of restaurants, Loulay Kitchen and Bar and Luc Bistro in Seattle, Washington.
He apprenticed in Anjou, France, and at twenty moved to the United States to work at several fine restaurants. He became the Chef and owner of Rover's Restaurant in 1987 which helped make him one of the most recognizable chefs around Seattle.
Rautureau has won various awards including the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Pacific Northwest in 1998, and has been awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre Du Mérite Agricole by the French government.
He has cooked for such well-known figures as Hillary Clinton, Francis Ford Coppola, Jackson Browne, and Julia Child.
Thierry Rautureau hails from the town of Saint Hilaire de Loulay in the Muscadet region of France. His parents were farmers in a small agricultural community where the cows and chickens outnumbered the people. The family cooked only what they grew, thus providing a purely seasonal diet. As the oldest child, Rautureau was given the chore of doing the prep for dinner; and as such he quickly became acquainted with fresh homegrown ingredients at a young age.
At fourteen, Rautureau started a cooking apprenticeship in Anjou, France and at sixteen went on a Regional Tour de France and trained in the cities of Le Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, Chamonix in the French Alps, and Hendaye in the Pays Basque. At twenty, after six years of traditional French training, Rautureau headed for the United States and took his professional experience to La Fontaine with Jean Claude Poilevey in Chicago.
After three years in Chicago, Rautureau moved to Los Angeles where he worked at the Regency Club with Joachim Splichal, and then The Seventh Street Bistro with Laurent Quenioux.
Rautureau is married to Kathleen Encell-Rautureau, a floral designer who also does arrangements for the restaurants. She was also the impetus for the chef's nickname. It was Kathy who gave Rautureau a fedora for Christmas, which he wore almost unceasingly. One evening, Rautureau entered the dining room at Rover's to speak with a guest without removing his hat. The guest exclaimed: “Look, it’s the Chef in the Hat!." Other guests overheard the comment, and the phrase eventually became his nickname. He trademarked the name the next day and has been recognized worldwide as "the Chef In The Hat"
While visiting Seattle in 1987, Rautureau dined at Rover's and discovered that the restaurant was for sale. He decided to buy the restaurant so that he could express his culinary creativity as the Executive Chef and owner while enjoying the Pacific Northwest.
Rautureau says of his cooking philosophy: “it starts with freshness and continues with treating all ingredients with attention.” He identifies the cuisine at Rover's as “Northwest contemporary with a French accent.” His cuisine also contains Mediterranean overtones and various Asian elements. Overall his cuisine is aligned with the philosophy of "food as art". Rover's closed its doors on June 23, 2013 and to date Chef hosts exclusive intimate pop-up Rover's dinners four times per year. They book out quickly and are an experience not to miss.
In 2010, Rautureau opened Luc, a casual French-American café and bar named after his late father, Luc Rautureau. Being primarily local, seasonal and sustainable, Luc's food is heavily influenced by the French comfort food Rautureau grew up eating on his parents’ farm.
In 2013, Chef Thierry Rautureau opened Loulay Kitchen & Bar in the heart of downtown Seattle. Named for Chef Thierry Rautureau's hometown of Saint Hilaire de Loulay in France, Loulay provides the ambiance and elegant decor that has come to be expected from the Chef in the hat restaurants while providing the humble tastes of home cooked French cuisine. Located at the bottom of the Sheraton Hotel in the epicenter of Seattle's downtown shopping district, Loulay offers delicious French cuisine with a splash of the Pacific Northwest. The menu delivers dishes with the perfect balance of comforting tastes inspired from the farm table Rautureau grew up around and the exquisite, fresh seafood that only the Pacific Northwest can provide; such as seared albacore served with leek fondue, burdock root purée, and apple cider jus.
From 2003 to 2010, Rautureau was the co-host of the talk radio show “Seattle Kitchen" with fellow chef Tom Douglas on KIRO 97.3FM. The two chefs conducted interviews with people in the food world, recounted recipes, gave a wine of the week and discussed food in the news.
In 2012, Rautureau and Douglas returned to KIRO Radio with "Seattle Kitchen," heard Saturdays at 2pm and Sundays at 10am on 97.3 FM in Seattle. After a few months of ratings success, the show was extended to two hours and continues to film weekly.
On television, Rautureau was featured on the Food Network's“Dining Around” and “Ready, Set, Cook!," Ming Tsai's “Simply Ming,” the PBS Series “French Fest," and the Discovery Channel series “Great Chefs from the Great Cities." Rautureau has also been a celebrity chef judge for the PBS series “MasterChef USA."
Rautureau's most well-known television appearance is as a contestant on the second season of the Bravo reality series Top Chef Masters. Rautureau competed against Monica Pope (T'afia), Carmen González (Chef Consultant), David Burke (David Burke Townhouse), and the eventual winner of the season, Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster, Aquavit) in the second episode entitled "Top Chef Masters Season 2: It's My Party." The challenge for the chefs was to cook a meal inspired by soul food for actor Mekhi Phifer's birthday party. González and Samuelsson advanced, while Pope, Rautureau and Burke were eliminated.
In 2012, Rautureau returned as a contestant on season four of Top Chef Masters. He made it to the fifth round before being eliminated.
In July 2013, Chef Rautureau participated in the making of reality YouTube series, Kitchen Circus. Three home cooks make one course for 45 diners. Chef Thierry Rautureau guides contestants from cooking through service. Will it be Angel, Siri or Beth who makes the diner's favorite course? Celebrity Guests include: Tom Douglas (Seattle Restaurateur), Steve Scher (NPR Radio Host), Marty Riemer (Radio Host). The series had a total of 4 episodes concluded with a finale.
TV programming channel KCTS9 produced a behind-the-scenes interview with Chef Thierry Rautureau which was put out on Nov. 3, 2014.
Rautureau has served on the Board of Directors for Food Lifeline, a Western Washington non-profit that provides food to 675,000 people through food banks, hot meal programs, shelters, and more. Rautureau also participates in various other community and charity events and fundraisers, such as the opening of the Dale Turner YMCA in Shoreline, WA. He is also on the board of "Visit Seattle and "L'alliance Francaise".
He serves as the Master of Ceremonies to many events, including but not limited to Bite Cooks Seattle and Taste of Tacoma. Thierry's involvement in his community is nothing short of incredible.
He has expanded his restaurant business to a fragrance line inspired by the French Soap at Loulay. Chef Thierry Rautureau set out to create one of the most luxurious, intoxicating, romantic scents of the century, using the art and experience he has as a world class French Chef. Together, with French trained perfumer Molly Ray they have hand crafted a recipe that will transcend time. The connection between our experiences with feasting and scent are both equally connected to memory. Both food and fragrance help us remember who we are.
To learn more about Thierry or connect with him please inquire below.
If you’re a fan of the long running weekly Seattle Kitchen show on KIRO radio, here’s your chance to be a member of a live audience while the show is being recorded at our cooking school, the Hot Stove Society.
On every show, Tom and Thierry review the local dining scene, discuss the week’s trendiest culinary topics, interview local and national writers, chefs, and other celebrities, and do side by side taste test comparisons- all to answer your burning desire to know what’s hot and what’s not.
Join us for the next taping of the show and enjoy coffee and pastries while you watch two of Seattle’s best loved chefs chat, discuss, argue, and laugh about a broad range of topics in the world of food.