Bryce Chartwell, Owner & Head Chef
Bryce Chartwell personifies the spirit of The Last Parsnip. After his formative years in Cambridge and Paris, Bryce returned to England to open his first restaurant, The Sow House, in 2003. In between projects he turned his attention to developing his own cooking philosophy, most easily described as Stochastic Gastronomy. He opened the Last Parsnip near Radnage in 2006, and its sister restaurant outside Seattle in 2008. He currently spends most of his time in the US, acting as head chef and working on related cooking and media projects. Although his fame is now considerable in his home country , he has managed to stay in touch with his privileged upbringing. He always finds time to mingle with his guests and to personally eject any diner who he deems too critical of that evening's food.
Benedict Lacrosse, Acting Head Chef (Bainbridge Island)
Ben was born and raised in the Seattle area. He developed his passion for food after earning a cooking scholarship to the West Point military academy. Upon graduation he became the head chef for the US Special Forces, serving behind enemy lines in both Afghanistan and Iraq. His extreme-cooking techniques, and alternative boiling practices earned him a special commendation and Mauve Star in 2002. After leaving the military Ben spent five years in the alternative cooking scene of San Francisco. His contributions to a variety of supper-clubs ("The After Ate Club", "Balthazar Getty's" and "The Fisherman's Waffle") garnered a devoted following. He met Bryce Chartwell at one such event in 2007 in Nob Hill. Despite an initially heated altercation over sous vide settings, the two became firm friends. Ben was the obvious choice to join the Last Parsnip in Seattle when it opened. He is currently on an extended leave of absence following a horrific fur-trapping accident in the Northern Cascades.
Damien Faust, Chief Technician (Radnage)
Damien Faust's journey to the Last Parsnip was an unlikely one. A graduate of Imperial College, London, Damien worked in computational chemistry for several large biotechnology firms for almost ten years. He met Bryce, by chance, at a talk he was giving to the Royal Society in 2005. He was impressed by Bryce's vision for a new style of cooking, but confesses that he didn't think Bryce had "the foggiest idea of what he was talking about". During questions he challenged Bryce in what was documented as "one of the most vitriolic and heated exchanges to have ever graced this hallowed establishment". As security officers man-handled him from the building he managed to slip Bryce his business card. Two weeks later, against his better judgment, Bryce contacted his interlocutor and struck up a dialog. Damien demonstrated a radical, and computationally intensive, approach to reducing the "blind guesswork" from Bryce's recipes. Bryce was intrigued, and agreed to take him on as Chief Technician. Six years later, Damien is credited as being the technical genius behind some of the Last Parsnip's most innovative techniques.
Conrad Jasper, Sommelier and Resident Mixologist (Radnage)
Conrad Jasper grew up in Paris, London and Strasbourg. He worked summers in his family's vineyards in the Burgundy region, and developed a life-long love of "grape and grain". After graduation from La Grande Ecole he started his own label in a small holding in the Medoc. His "En Peu Maudits" range of wines first came to market through a limited production run in 2005. Wine Spectator called them "fruity, with a haughty and rather uptight aroma", while Oz Clarke likened their lingering aftertastes to "the skulking, sideways glances of a harshly admonished dog". After five years of rich harvests and lavish praise, Conrad sold the business and decided to point his fiendishly sensitive nose in the direction of the restaurant industry. Bryce Chartwell, an early investor in the "Maudits" winery, approached him with the role of sommelier - and he never looked back. He has since expanded his repertoire into the world of cocktails, and now performs the additional role of resident mixologist.
Marilyn Murrow, Sioux Chef (Bainbridge Island)
Marilyn Murrow graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2003, and spent four years working in a number of high-end restaurants in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Her focus on Native American recipes attracted the attention of Bryce, looking to develop a more localized feel to his Bainbridge Island restaurant. In 2009 Marilyn joined the Last Parsnip in Seattle as their first "Sioux Chef".
Vanessa “Van” Pearce, Pastry Chef (Bainbridge Island)
Van Pearce is the newest member of the team on Bainbridge Island. She brings a love of desserts and an interest in precision icing that is unsurpassed in the Pacific Northwest. Her previous work includes stints as the private chef to Bill Gates’ personal trainer’s brother and three years in the staff restaurant on Riker’s Island. When she isn’t in the kitchen foaming and frothing Van loves to watch the great outdoors from behind glass.