It was 2004 when an 18 year old Adam Vickerman first walked into the kitchen at Levain to work under chef Steven Brown (now of Tilia and the forthcoming St. Genevieve.) Vickerman would quickly rise through the ranks and eventually take over the kitchen after Levain went from white linen to a cozy, critically acclaimed neighborhood bistro. In the intervening years he has also cooked at several local restaurants, including Cafe Barbette, Haute Dish and Sea Change.
Among both chefs and diners Vickerman is admired for his calm and steady kitchen demeanor and deft skills with local, seasonal produce. His perfect, deceptively simple roast chicken is the stuff of legends.
Now, at the ripe old age of 30, he's ready to retire from the kitchen life that's left a physical and mental mark. It's time for daylight hours, a sweet benefits package and the opportunity to work for a company whose mission he strongly believes in. He will depart for an opportunity at the new Seward Co-op Friendship store. The difficult decision came after weighing the benefits of his health and long-term future. The new co-op will be just a block from his house. "[I'm] very excited to be with a company with my values and principles," he told Eater.
There are just 22 shifts left to experience the Vickerman Cafe Levain experience. No word yet on who will replace him in the kitchen.
"If skill and experience were all that it took to be happy, I'd still be a chef," he explained. Instead, we'll soon find him at the deli inside the new Seward, continuing to elevate our locally, responsibly raised food and possibly sporting a bit of a tan.