Meet Our Chef
Eric Rivera - Executive Chef
Olympia, Washington, native Eric Rivera started his career in business. But cooking was always his passion, and he wasn’t afraid to hustle to get where he is today: breaking new ground as Executive Chef at Seattle’s Bookstore Bar & Café.
His journey to Bookstore Bar & cafe has taken many noteworthy twists and turns, including a three-plus year stint at Alinea restaurant in Chicago, where he was Director of Culinary Research Operations working alongside chef-owner Grant Achatz. After that he moved on to Seattle’s Huxley Wallace Collective, where he opened the Thompson Hotel Seattle, plus four restaurants, in just one year with Josh Henderson.
Eric, a graduate of the culinary school at the Art Institute of Seattle, traces cooking back to when he was a small child. Growing up in a Puerto Rican family that celebrated food, Eric often cooked with his grandfather. Despite his early connection with the kitchen, Eric pursued jobs in mortgage and insurance. But eventually he found himself drawn back to food.
Grassroots tactics led him to his first job: Eric knocked on doors for jobs when he was beginning culinary school. “I would walk into restaurants wearing a suit and holding my resume. Nothing came of it,” Eric explains. “But when I finally took off the suit and simplified my resume to say only, ‘Culinary Student’ then people started paying attention. I got my first job.”
Starting in the kitchen at Seastar in Seattle, Eric moved on to Blueacre Seafood, where he eventually became sous chef while still in school. When the opportunities at Alinea and Huxley Wallace Collective presented themselves, Eric seized them.
Now, in his new job at Bookstore Bar & Cafe, Eric plays to his guests’ sense of discovery. “It’s an exploration of the whole flavor spectrum, where you can go from sweet to savory to sour in one bite,” he says. “We have all these great local ingredients at our disposal, and we’ll be highlighting flavors of the Pacific Northwest – but in a way that will feel fresh and new to locals and visitors alike.”
To wit: a black cod with pickled leeks and shallots, fried capers, and peeled walnuts. There will also be multi-course dinners made up of small bites – spoonfuls intended to surprise and delight. In some cases, the experience will be interactive as chefs will prepare and serve courses tableside, which Eric describes as a chance for guests to see “sleight of hand magic” first-hand.
When he's not cooking, Eric enjoys video games and playing with his dog.