Chef Kayleigh Wytcherley created the menu at Bark, A Rescue Pub, where takeout may also include a new furry companion

Kayleigh Wytcherley takes a particular interest in making every element of a dish shine. - YOUNG KWAK
Young Kwak
Kayleigh Wytcherley takes a particular interest in making every element of a dish shine.

Bark, A Rescue Pub had Kayleigh Wytcherley at dogs and diners.

"I was so excited about the concept of being able to help rescue animals and cook, basically combining two of my favorite things," says the executive chef who joined Bark just weeks before its launch in August 2020.

First, the pub gave her an opportunity to create the new menu and shepherd the 1½-year-old restaurant through its critical startup period. Second, Wytcherley got to be part of something bigger than the food industry.

"The animals are a whole 'nother element at the restaurant," says Wytcherley, who admits that if she spends more time in the adoption area, she's inclined to take them all home.

Last fall, Wytcherley and her husband, Jack, who is the lead prep person at Bark, adopted CC, a cookies-and-cream blue heeler from Bark, which partners with the Spokane Humane Society to facilitate cat and dog adoption.

Before Bark, Wytcherley worked her way up from sous chef to executive chef at Spokane Valley's Craft and Gather, and did a brief stint at The Onion around 2016.

"I didn't know cooking was what I wanted to do until my early twenties," says Wytcherley, who left home in 2010 to attend the graphic design program at the former Art Institute of Portland.

She couldn't picture herself continuing, however, and got a job at Portland's 21st Century Pizza, then at the former Fat Heads Brewing.

"I liked being behind-the-scenes," says Wytcherley, who became interested in cooking at an early age while growing up in Cheney, helping her mother do Thanksgiving dinners, for example. And with five adopted siblings, that meant a lot of food.

She also has a particular way of building a menu.

"I'm a huge fan of taking an ingredient that I really love and building a dish around it — that is the way I typically build a menu," says Wytcherley. Bark employs seasonal menus with recurring signature dishes like the Pretzel "Bones" with Cold Smoke Scotch Ale cheese sauce or the Frickle Burger with fried pickle. Many dishes are vegan, vegetarian, and/or gluten-free or can be made gluten-free.

Wytcherley especially enjoys cooking with mushrooms. "Mushrooms are such a versatile ingredient and add nice flavor to so many things," says Wytcherley, noting that mushrooms can be a stand-in for meat in vegetarian dishes, such as the pub's portobello burger. But she has some advice for fellow cooks. "A lot of time when cooking mushrooms you lose all the juices," she says. "The best way to avoid this is to start them in a hot pan and also wait to add the salt until the end because salt draws out moisture."

Though she's fond of mushrooms, she takes a particular interest in making every element of a dish shine. "I think the key is to treat every ingredient special, ensuring you get the most flavor you can out of it."

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About The Author

Carrie Scozzaro

Carrie Scozzaro spent nearly half of her career serving public education in various roles, and the other half in creative work: visual art, marketing communications, graphic design, and freelance writing, including for publications throughout Idaho, Washington, and Montana.