The Chef In The Hat hangs up his apron

The French call it jeter l’éponge, throwing in the towel. In this case, it’s Thierry Rautureau who’s calling it quits, so the éponge is likely to be made of foie gras. Even so, it’s the end of an era. Thierry, who arrived in Seattle three decades ago, and known to all as The Chef In The Hat, started his run by taking over a hobby restaurant in Madison Valley called Rover’s and turned it into one of Seattle’s temples of haute cuisine. Champagne, caviar, duck liver pâté, one exquisite dish following another. Then came Luc, just down the street, much less formal, a French neighborhood bistro.

The folks who run the Sheraton Grand had been looking for high-end eatery ever since the pioneering Fuller’s closed; they invited Thierry to try his hand at a mid-town venue. That was eight years ago. And at first it succeeded brilliantly. “Restaurant of the Year” honors from every major local, regional, and national publication for its food, its wine list, its service, its ambience.

It wasn’t enough, though, to power past Covid. “Temporarily closed” for the past year has now become “Permanently closed.” Nor could Luc survive the terms of its lease; Thierry had announced a week ago that the doors would close for good at the end of August. Thierry’s wife, Kathleen Encell-Rautureau, will continue her business as a floral designer, but her best customer is now g-gone. The end of an era.

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