Jamie Malone of Sea Change: Chef Chat, Part 1

Chef Jamie Malone takes the lead at Sea Change

Chef Jamie Malone takes the lead at Sea Change

It was recently announced that the chef de cuisine title at Sea Change, the sustainable seafood restaurant at the Guthrie, would be handed over to an insider, Jamie Malone. After flying in chefs from around the country to try out, Sea Change's management realized the gem in their midst.  Malone had worked under the previous chef, Erik Anderson, who garnered national attention with James Beard and Food and Wine award nominations before departing the restaurant and our city.

Malone recently changed the menu, highlighting seasonality and stretching the creative bounds. One new dish includes a pasta made from potato flakes toasted and ground into the flour, resulting in a dish that smells exactly like a freshly opened bag of chips. 

We sat down with Malone to discuss what led her to the kitchen, what makes her thrive, and how her first night on the line went (hint: It could have been better).


Where did you grow up?
St. Paul, North St. Paul.

What was is the first thing you remember cooking?
Probably baking bread with my dad.

Do you still bake?
(Shakes head) No. I just don't have the time.

When did you first realize you wanted to work with food professionally?
I was running a bead store, with my mom and sister.  All I could think about all the time was food.  If I had all the money in the world, what would I do? I wanted to cook.

What was your first job in the industry?
Waiting tables at this little restaurant in Mahtomedi.  I was just really excited to be in the restaurant business.

You then went to school at Le Cordon Bleu. What is one thing you learned there that you keep with you every day in the kitchen?
Learning about stocks and mother sauces. That's not something that you can learn on the line, and line cooks don't make a lot of those.  Not everyone can do sauces.  I learned a lot at school that I use every day.

What was your first job in the kitchen?
At Porter & Frye with Steven Brown.

What was working in that kitchen like?
Intense.  Porter & Frye was just getting open.

I had waited tables at Chambers to get through culinary school. Steven had seen Chambers on my resume and assumed I'd been cooking. My first night there he asked which station I wanted to work.  I said hot side. (laughs) I had no idea what I was doing.  The chef asked me how I would set up my station at Chambers, and I'm thinking, "Um ... polish some silverware? Uh ..."  So that was my first time cooking in a professional kitchen, at 11 p.m. on my first night at Porter & Frye.

How long were you there?
A year.

Then where did you go?
Barrio, then Sea Change, then Barrio Edina, then Sea Change.

Did you open the Barrio in Edina?
Yes, I was there for opening of all of them.

You must thrive on that kind of crazy deadline intense energy.
Yeah, I get bored easily.

You've done a good amount of world traveling. Where did you go first?
Hong Kong, when I was 17.  I ate all kinds of street food. Most people my age spoke English, and the police would wear a red arm band if they spoke English.  It was pretty amazing.  I was there for about a month.  Then I took a train up to Beijin and hung out. It was hard to be a single white gal there, though.  People assumed I was a prostitute.  It was really weird. I guess because I'm blond, I was staying in the business district. .. I went to Tianannmen Square, the Great Wall, and I was mobbed for pictures!

It was really weird.  I ended up spending a lot of time in my hotel room.  It was very isolating.

When did you go to Vietnam and where were you?
I was 18. I was in Han Noi and then up the Gulf of Tonkin.  It was amazing. There were a lot more tourists in Vietnam.

What kind of food did you eat?
Lots of street pho. It was the best. I got sick a lot. A lot, but that was okay. And going to the markets.  They have the most amazing markets.

More tomorrow with chef Malone.