Chatting with Chef Pa from Levitate- 10 things you didn’t know…..

Issaquah has a new chef in town- Executive Chef Pa Jallow at Levitate Gastropub on Front Street.  I must admit I often find myself dining at Levitate especially after I discovered the market fresh Burratta Caprese salad this summer- yes I am obsessed with the grilled peaches and burratta cheese!  I inquired about the dish and was told that their new chef has a unique background and I should meet him.   Interesting idea that sparked a thought, let’s feature local talent in our merchant news so we can meet our neighbors and have one more unique story to share about our great city.

Chef Pa was born in Gambia, West Africa.  One of 11 kids and the eldest boy, he moved to Louisiana when he was 18 and discovered he enjoyed the people and community he found in the restaurant world.  He moved to New York and began an extensive 20 year career with TGIF.   Pa received his culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale AZ and had the good fortune of working with Chef Kevin Binkley, owner of Blinkley’s in Scottsdale, AZ.   Here is a picture of Pa with Kevin taken at Binkley’s.  Here are 10 fun facts about our Chef Pa Jallow:

  1. His favorite dishes at Levitate include the Shrimp and Grits paired with Hefeweizen or fish and chips with stout.
  2. Strangest chef request was when he was asked to completely debone a fish entrée before serving it to the customer.  It took over 30 minutes but he met the request to the customers delight.
  3. His go to kitchen gadgets are the Sous Vide and his paring knife.  This explains why the short ribs are perfectly cooked and so tender!
  4. Most challenging ingredient to work with- the egg.  It can be difficult to produce the perfect egg since there are so many ways to prepare it.
  5. His favorite wine is Pinot Noir enjoyed with a steak.
  6. His “last supper” request would be his mom’s Supa, a Gambian dish with smoked catfish, okra, greens and rice.  Similar to gumbo but better!  Something sweet about Pa- he is a Mama’s boy!
  7. His favorite thing to cook at home is ramen noodles with basil, cherry tomatoes and topped with an egg.
  8. If we handed him a salmon from Issaquah Creek, he would grill it and serve with red pepper jelly along with roasted butternut squash sautéed in apple cider.
  9. His craziest kitchen incident was when he had a kitchen fire during the busiest time of day and had to put it out with salt and milk.
  10. Pa’s favorite cookbook is French Laundry by Chef Thomas Keller.  Try the lobster with figs and polenta!

Pa, his lovely wife Shannon and kids were attracted to Issaquah because of the small town feeling in a larger community and our fantastic school system.   His menu is a reflection of his travels, reading and time spent listening to his guests.  On his days off, he can be found enjoying sushi at Aji close to their home in the Highlands.  If you see him- be sure to say hi.

The next time I enjoy the Burratta Caprese salad, I will be thinking of the lovely soul behind it.   Next time you venture into Levitate, mention you read the article about Pa and receive $1 off the beverage of your choice.

For more information on Levitate Gastropub visit