Food & Wine Magazine’s annual Best New Chefs list featured the Pacific Northwest with its inclusion of Aisha Ibrahim, the executive chef for Seattle’s Canlis restaurant in the Queen Anne neighborhood. Ibrahim, 37, was one of just 11 chefs selected for the magazine’s 35th class of new chefs. She is the seventh chef in the restaurant’s 73-year history.
She is also the first woman to hold the position. More in Seattle’s food scene: Seattle food truck, café regulations remain post-pandemic “It all started with a bet,” Khushbu Shah wrote in her profile of Ibrahim. “At the age of 19, Aisha Ibrahim experienced a serious knee injury that sidelined her from her college basketball team, and she was feeling unmoored — until a teammate presented her with a challenge: ‘I bet you can’t cook anything out of this cookbook,’ she told Ibrahim, pointing to a copy of ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ by Julia Child.” Ibrahim has been with Canlis since 2021 after getting her start at restaurants like San Francisco’s Foreign Cinema and Michelin-rated Commis and Manresa.
She was invited by fellow chef Eneko Atxa to cook at his restaurant, Azurmendi, in Spain before that led to an opportunity to head up another one of his restaurants, Aziamendi — this time located in Phuket, Thailand. Food & Wine Magazine has previously called Canlis “one of the 40 most important restaurants in the past 40 years.” Canlis has won 22 consecutive Wine Spectator Grand Awards alongside 15 James Beard Award nominations (and three wins). Ibrahim replaced former Canlis chef Brady Williams — also acknowledged as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2018 — who left to open his own restaurant, Tomo, located in Seattle.
She previously stated her experience at Japanese kaiseki restaurants has informed her work as she blends in her Spanish cooking influences. Sustainability has been a fixation for Ibrahim, and for Canlis in turn, who’s now defining how the restaurant gathers its ingredients and how little waste it can emit. More on Seattle’s food scene: Capitol Hill sandwich spot HoneyHole embroiled in controversy One of her iconic Canlis dishes that gained Seattle’s attention was her “elegant riff on a blooming onion,” according to Food & Wine Magazine.
The dish was described as “a tiny and sweet Walla Walla onion, served with a dollop of whipped goat cheese and a generous sprinkling of onion powder” alongside “a bowl of sea bream swimming in a gentle dashi made of kombu, shiitake, and bones from the fish. (Ibrahim ages the sea bream for four days to achieve the tender texture.)” Ibrahim is now part of the 2023 class of best new chefs that includes other restaurant industry rising stars from Philadelphia, Washington D.C., St.
Louis, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Houston and Austin.