Meet Eric Olinsky, a chef/guide for Eat Seattle, which gives cooking classes and food tours at Pike Place Market.
What do you do? I spend most of my time teaching guests about Pike Place Market and the abundance of incredible ingredients we have available locally in Seattle. Our (Eat Seattle) culinary team loves to show off local and seasonal favorites in our cooking and mixology classes. I’m excited to share my love for the Seattle-area coffee-roasting and chocolate-making businesses by leading our new coffee and chocolate tour.
How did you get started in the field? I led my first tours in Washington, D.C., taking guests on tasting tours of Eastern Market and (day tours) at a few Virginia vineyards. I started picking up work in kitchens in the offseasons from tours and things took off once I moved to Seattle. I learned a ton from the market vendors and assisting other chefs with cooking classes here before I started leading my own.
What is a typical day like? I greet the guests for the morning tour and feed them pretty consistently for the next two hours while doing my best to explain why everything is so delicious and answering their questions about Pike Place. I’ll then buy produce and set up a cooking class for the afternoon to teach a three-course menu.
What is the best part of the work? I love that our tours and classes complement each other so well. I’ll take inspiration from one of our tour vendors and get ideas that I can use for future cooking classes. I feel really well-supported by the Pike Place Market community, and I think our guests feel like they are getting the benefit of our cultivated relationships during the classes and tours.
What surprises people about what you do? I find the guests in our classes are surprised and delighted by what one can achieve with simple, fresh ingredients. I try to teach guests to pick the best ingredients possible and not overcomplicate things when you are building and balancing flavors. I rely much more on knowledge of ingredients and seasonality than on any techniques or fancy equipment.