Changing chefs is always a sad and happy event.
In the case of the recent change at Cafe Presse, the sad comes from the fact that outgoing Chef de Cuisine Jessi Aaenson and I have worked together since the late 90’s. I first hired her as a line cook at Campagne restaurant when she was fresh out of culinary school. Later she worked as the Pastry Chef at Le Pichet, then helped us open Cafe Presse where she was promoted to Chef de Cuisine. They say that a good Chef de Cuisine is like the Executive chef’s right arm, but with Jessi I think right leg would be more like it… her hard work and talent made it possible for Le Pichet and Cafe Presse to stand and grow.
Jessi is leaving to start her own business helping people establish and maintain healthy lifestyles. We wish her all the best, but know that she will be a great success at whatever she chooses to do.
The happy comes from the opportunity to promote to Chef de Cuisine Andre “Dre” Neeley. Dre attended university in Atlanta Georgia before spending time in the kitchens at the venerable Cliff House restaurant in Browns Point Washington, as well as at Vios Café and Market Place and Barrio Mexican Kitchen, both in Seattle. He was the opening Executive Chef at Captain Black’s on Capitol Hill. He also co-owned and operated a boutique catering company with his wife. Dre joined Café Presse in 2010 as Sous-Chef. Dre says that his culinary inspiration is his father, who is a gifted barbecue grill man.
Dre has already become a vital part of the Cafe Presse team. We look forward to watching him grow as he takes on this new position.