Bark, a rescue pub had Kayleigh Wytcherley in dogs and dinners.
“I was so excited about the concept of being able to help save animals and cook, basically combining two of my favorite things,” says the executive chef who joined Bark just weeks before its launch in August 2020.
First, the pub gave him the opportunity to create the new menu and guide the year-and-a-half restaurant through its critical start-up period. Second, Wytcherley was part of something bigger than the food industry.
“Animals are a whole different element at the restaurant,” says Wytcherley, who admits that if she spends more time in the adoption area, she’s inclined to bring them all home.
Last fall, Wytcherley and her husband, Jack, who is Bark’s head of prep, adopted CC, a cookie-and-cream blue hooker from Bark, who is partnering with the Spokane Humane Society to make adoption easier. cats and dogs.
Prior to Bark, Wytcherley rose through the ranks from sous chef to executive chef at Spokane Valley’s Craft and Gather, and had a brief stint at The Onion around 2016.
“I didn’t know cooking was what I wanted to do until my early twenties,” says Wytcherley, who left home in 2010 to attend the former Art Institute of Portland’s graphic design program.
However, she couldn’t imagine herself continuing and got a job at Portland’s 21st Century Pizza, then the old Fat Heads Brewing.
“I loved being behind the scenes,” says Wytcherley, who took an interest in cooking from an early age growing up in Cheney, helping her mother prepare Thanksgiving dinners, for example. And with five adopted siblings, that meant plenty of food.
She also has a special way of building a menu.
“I’m a big fan of taking an ingredient I really like and building a dish around it — that’s how I usually build a menu,” says Wytcherley. Bark employs seasonal menus with recurring signature dishes like the “Bones” Pretzel with Cold Smoke Scotch Ale cheese sauce or the Frickle Burger with fried pickles. Many dishes are vegan, vegetarian and/or gluten-free or can be made gluten-free.
Wytcherley particularly enjoys cooking with mushrooms. “Mushrooms are such a versatile ingredient and add a nice flavor to so many things,” says Wytcherley, noting that mushrooms can replace meat in vegetarian dishes, like the portobello burger at the pub. But she has some advice for other cooks. “A lot of times when you’re cooking mushrooms, you lose all the juice,” she says. “The best way to avoid this is to start them in a hot skillet and also wait to add the salt until the end as the salt wicks away the moisture.”
Although she is fond of mushrooms, she is particularly keen on making every element of a dish shine. “I think the key is to treat each ingredient in a special way, making sure you get the most out of them.”