By DeAnn Rossetti
Toasted ciabatta with apple butter, smoked ham and sharp cheddar cheese, warm spinach salad with crispy roasted duck breast, homemade croutons and balsamic vinaigrette, cantaloupe carved like a lily and filled with chicken curry salad with Fuji apples, and “fudgy wudgy” brownies layered with fudge and ganache.
These are just a few of the culinary delights available at the new eatery The French Market, 7525 S.E. 24th St., in Island Corporate Center. Mary Ann Millican and Chef Jeffrey Morris bought the old C’est Cheese café and have turned the space into a rustic French country eatery with a gourmet market and catering.
Millican, who worked as director of development for St. James Cathedral in Seattle for over 30 years, started “Cathedral Catering” out of its kitchens in 1999 when she noticed that the food catered to St. James fundraising events wasn’t up to her standards.
“It was always expensive and not good, so I felt that I could do better, and a whole business grew out of that,” she said.
Morris, known as “Cheffrey,” was working as a chef aboard a large yacht that went to many exotic ports of call when Kay Kaiser, a fellow member of St. James, introduced him to Mary Ann. He and Millican began cooking together at Cathedral Catering.
The duo sought a place where they could continue to grow their successful catering business while also including a cafe that would serve gourmet breakfasts and lunch.
“We saw an opportunity with the Island and the professionals who work in this building to establish a catering/cafe combo that would be similar to the European markets I’d seen,” said Morris. “You can have a meal there, grab something fresh to go and pick up baked goods such as baguettes and cheese for later on.”
Morris said he and Millican didn’t want to serve just average salads, so they added rich proteins like salmon or duck breast and have sandwiches that are unique, too.
“We do all our own baking, and have snacks such as brownies, bar cookies, scones, cookies, tea breads and cinnamon rolls, as well as our own `stud muffin’ which has whole wheat, bran, pineapple, apple, carrots, raisins and almonds — a meal in itself!” Millican said. “We’re serving a variety of breakfasts as well.”
The French Market display case will feature takeout entrees and salads for home dining. Millican and Morris are renovating their space in shades of sage, burgundy and a butter yellow, and removing the soda cold case to give the dining area a more open feel. They’re changing the lighting and turning the back dining room into a meeting room, where locals can have breakfast or luncheon meetings privately.
“I feel fortunate to be in this situation because I’ve had to provide cuisine to discriminating tastes and I know what they like,” said Morris. “It’s all about presentation and customer service, and great food.”
The French Market is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. It can be reached at 232-9810.
Design firm contributes to tsunami relief effort
Wimberly, Allison, Tong and Goo, an architectural and design firm at 3023 80th Ave. S.E., has contributed over $20,000 to the tsunami relief effort in southeast Asia, but they want to do more than contribute money.
Ron Mitchell, managing director of the Mercer Island office of WATG, said that since his company primarily designs hotels and resorts in Asia, they notice when their completed resorts are in trouble from lack of tourism.
“Thirty percent of our work is in the area hit by the tidal wave,” said Mitchell. “But when people see the devastation (wrought by the tsunami) they think the entire country is closed for business, when most of the hotels and resorts in Indonesia weren’t affected — it was mostly the coastal areas that were hit, and even then, in Malaysia, every hotel that was impacted is now up and running.”
Mitchell said that because he travels in southeast Asia, he sees for himself that tourism has ground to a halt.
“What we are hearing from the resorts and hotels in these countries is that while the residents appreciate the relief money, the hotels just want people to keep traveling,” he said. “Their economies are dependent on tourism.”
WATG was founded 60 years ago in Hawaii, and currently has five offices worldwide and 350 employees. The firm has been on Mercer Island for three years.
“We thought it was the right place for us,” said Mitchell. “There’s a lot of architectural talent in the Seattle area so it’s easy to recruit people.”
For more information on WATG, visit its Web site at www.watg.com