Chef Maximillian Petty wasn’t exactly expecting to see his name on the list.
For the past two years, he’s been among a small group of young culinary figures from around the country named as semifinalists for Rising Star Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation.
But sure enough, when this year’s selections were unveiled in mid-February, the Eden Hill chef-owner was there again; leaving Petty somewhat shocked.
“Just putting your name on that list of 20-some people, it’s pretty huge for a tiny little Queen Anne restaurant,” he said.
It’s also the final time Petty can be up for this particular honor, which is given to a chef age 30 or younger, “who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.” That adds a bit more pressure, he said.
“This is kind of my big hurrah before I turn the big 3-0,” he said.
He admits it’s been a little surreal as well, trying to process the recognition while maintaining the day-to-day operations of the restaurant. The announcement also came in the midst of one the busiest weeks of the year, right after Valentine’s Day.
“It’s very weird to go back and forth from cooking on the line and working 16-hour days to have everyone be so sweet and generous, and be up for this big thing,” he said. “It’s hard to kind of accept it when you don’t really have time to think about it.”
Petty, who opened Eden Hill in September 2015 with his wife Jennifer, said the news also rejuvenates the restaurant a bit, bringing in a new wave of diners that may not have heard of it before.
“It’s nice to see we can make a little bit of noise with such a small microphone,” he said.
Though this is his final shot at a rising star nod, next year he becomes eligible for a regional best chef nomination (the Northwest region includes Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Oregon in addition to Washington). But for now, he’s hopeful about the honor at hand.
“It reminds me I still got youth on my side for one more time,” he said.
Finalists will be announced on March 14, with the 2018 James Beard Awards Gala set for May 7 in Chicago.
“Hopefully, the third year’s a charm,” he said.
Eden Hill (2209 Queen Anne Ave. N.) is open Tuesday-Sunday 5 to 10 p.m. For more information, or to make a reservation, visit www.edenhillrestaurant.com.