Chef Kaleena Bliss, previously the Executive Sous Chef at Six Seven at The Edgewater Hotel, is now Executive Chef at the Thompson Seattle. Bliss brings more than a decade of culinary experience to Thompson’s signature restaurant, Conversation, as well as The Nest rooftop lounge, in-room dining, catering and banquets.
With a deep appreciation for letting ingredients and textures speak for themselves, Bliss has reinvigorated Conversation’s menu to be one that reflects the area we live in. I recently visited for dinner, and left feeling grateful for Bliss’s approach to both her craft and her leadership of her team, as these qualities enriched our meal and experience.
Bliss’s first word as a child was, “eat,” and even from a young age she knew she wanted to be a chef when she grew up. This passion for food has been nurtured and developed throughout her life and is evident in the menu she has created at Conversation. The menu is divided into three sections, Snacks, Firsts, and Mains. Each section offers a variety of choices that are approachable, yet rich in flavor, as Bliss meticulously crafted each item to reflect the bounty of local ingredients available to us in the Pacific Northwest.
Bliss has a relationship with many of the farmers that provide ingredients for her dishes. I loved hearing stories about the families who supply the cheese for the restaurant, all of them being such small operations that production has to stop when their goat is sick. Don’t hesitate to ask Bliss about a dish’s journey to your plate when you visit as she is full of stories of discovery and foraging that taught me so much about the importance and excitement that comes from eating food available in our backyard.
We sampled almost everything on the menu, and there wasn’t one dish that I wouldn’t order again; however, we did have our favorites. From the Snacks section of the menu, we most enjoyed the Tartine with smoked halibut, celery, dill, pickled shallot, and brioche.
From the Firsts, the Kabocha Squash Soup with sweet potato, pomegranate, and pepita relish, and the Preserved Mussels with dill creme fraiche, shaved carrot, and cucumber relish stood out. Bliss mentioned that she loves anything pickled, and both of these dishes combined that pop of flavor with a variety of textures to create a well-balanced dish packed full of flavor.
Finally, the Scallops with cauliflower, Israeli couscous, harissa, and crispy prosciutto, as well as the Black Cod with charred cabbage, sunchoke miso, and Tokyo turnip were outstanding. Both proteins were seared to perfection. Bliss described the seared black cod bites perfectly when she described them as umami bombs.
We ended our evening with a discussion with Bliss about her experience as a female chef in the industry. It is clear that Bliss leads a happy team at Conversation, and much of this is thanks to her leadership style, which Bliss credits to the years of mentorship she received both professionally and personally. Bliss leads from a place of authenticity and realness, prioritizing the mental health of herself and her staff. Gone are the days of screaming and flying pans in the kitchen. As Bliss said, we are moving onwards and upwards, where happiness in the kitchen is a priority as this directly translates to the food and the atmosphere in the dining room.
I deeply appreciated the time Bliss took to share her talents and philosophy with us. I will be back to Conversation for brunch, happy hour, dinner, and soon to be lunch, not only because the food is so reliably good, but because it is a space that makes you feel good too.
Conversation | 110 Stewart St, Seattle | (206) 512-1097