Ep 035 – Jacob Wiegner, Owner of Blackboard Bistro

Ep 035 – Jacob Wiegner, Owner of Blackboard Bistro

This week’s guest is Jacob Wiegner, Owner of Blackboard Bistro in West Seattle. They are all about the food… simplicity, technique and flavor. Their menu is ever changing and reflects Chef Jacob’s nomadic life prior this his settling in Seattle with his family. Enjoy delicious food while relaxing in the cozy restaurant atmosphere.

Highlights From This Episode:

Jacob was born in Iran to parents from Pensilvania just before the revolution and he has lived all over the US since then. When he was a teenager, they moved to London, where he started to cook (classically trained french cuisine), met his wife, Ginger (who is from New Zealand) and their oldest son was born. He still considers it a second home. After the birth of their first kid and living in London for 13 years, they decided to move back to the US. Initially they moved to Florida, to be close to his parents but at the time the culinary opportunities were limited… so they eventually made their way to Seattle. As a kid, he had visited Seattle several times with his family and always liked it and Seattle reminded Ginger of Wellington, New Zealand, where she grew up.
Initially they were living in Ballard and he helped the open the Capital Hill restaurant Olivar and worked there for three years (before it closed in 2014 and is now the location of Marron). The owner of Olivar also graciously helped Jacob out a lot when he decided to open Black Board Bistro in West Seattle. When they moved out to Seattle, it was always their idea to open their own restaurant. 

  • What do you love most about what you do? The creativity he can put into each meal and the evolving menu. They have some staple dishes but much of the menu changes regularly to keep the menu fresh and interesting.
  • What was most surprising or unexpected with opening your own business? Coming to terms with what they wanted to do and provide verses what their customers wanted. Finding the balance between offering the things they recognize and want and challenging them to try new dishes. He had to “get over his ego” as he realized that it’s not about him but about providing a product that his customers want.
  • What kind of food does Black Board Bistro make? What is Black Board Bistro known for? It’s eclectic fine cousin with locally bought seasonal ingredients and while there are some staple menu items (like gnocchi), the menu reflects what Jacob (the owner and chief) is into and feels like eating at the time. For example, they buy their fish fresh from Mutual Fish in Rainier and may base their current items on whatever the latest fresh catch is.
  • What habit do you wish you had? Better people skills.
  • What are you passionate about? Food and his family.
  • What lessons have you learned with owning your own businesses? If your going to jump in, jump in with both feet & just take it one day at a time.
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? Putting into perspective that “we are just feeding people”. This realization that at the end of the day, we are just feeding people helped give him some good perspective and felt very freeing. And “simplicity is the last test of the master” – Marco Pierre White. If you think about some of the best meals you have had, they were the simplest things (not overly complex or complicated).
  • What is a personal habit that contributes to your success? Stubbornness.
  • Do you listen to podcasts? What are your favorites? “Stuff You Should Know“, NPR ones like “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” and “This American Life“. “The Moth Radio Hour” and now since being invited on… “The Sea-Town Podcast“. Christian recommended Gimlet Media podcast (if you like story telling NPR style podcasts)
  • What is your one book recommendation for our listeners? Jitterbug Perfume or anything by Tom Robins

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