skillet : diner ⋅ counter ⋅ street
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the team is...


Josh Henderson

Founder | The Skillet Group

So a little about me...I graduated from the CIA hyde park campus in 1998 and from there took a circuitous route to figuring out that I didn’t really enjoy working in restaurants, but loved food, the craft that I belonged to, and creating for people.. I ended up starting a small business in which I worked for photographers as the private chef for the crew on photo shoots, and from that experience got a real grasp on mobile food

So along with my beautiful wife, kelli, my boy huxley, and my pups Lucca and zola, we hope to create business that sustains itself through impeccably executed food, simply done, and regionally relevant.

Jon Severson

President l The Skillet Group

I was born and raised in St. Louis, and at an early age I found myself cooking for my family a lot as my Mom had become a vegetarian in the 80‘s (no offense Mom), but someone had to represent the still present meat lovers in the family.

I attended St. Louis University and shortly after I found myself compelled to follow my culinary instincts, and moved to Chicago in 1996 where I worked at James Beard award-winning Spiaggia. After Chicago my first opportunity to get involved in the hospitality side of the Sports and Entertainment industry started with a brief stint in 1998 as Chef for the St. Louis Blues organization and then on to open the Pepsi Center in 1999, home of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche where there I met my beautiful wife Marqui. I got to be a part of some pretty cool events like the 2001 NHL All-Star game, Stanley Cup Finals and 2005 NBA All-Star game. In 2006 we moved to Seattle to take on the next chapter of my culinary career as Executive Chef at CenturyLink Field home of the Seahawks and Sounders FC.

Josh and I met in 2012 as we collaborated on bringing more local flair and fun food options to the stadium and fans. A relationship that led to this great opportunity of helping Skillet grow and getting me back to my restaurant roots, and away from the rigors of the Sports and Entertainment hospitality business. I’m looking forward to bringing my background and experience to Skillet at this exciting time in its growth.

I currently reside in Ballard with my wife our son Taggart and daughter Halina.

Nick Novello

Executive Chef | Skillet Diners

Growing up in my Italian mother's kitchen and my father's restaurant, I was sold on cooking at an early age. I received my first job at 13, at Fisherman's Restaurant in San Clemente, California and haven't looked back since.

At the age of 20, I packed my knives and flew up to Alaska. My kitchen creativity started as I made my way back home. I was cooking my way South through Canada, for gas money. Working in so many restaurants I began to look at food as having multiple layers of flavor. My trip ended in Seattle. I fell in love with the city and its people, so I broke out my knives and got to work. Initially I worked as the chef for the Matador and later opened Oskar's Kitchen with Seattle Sonics great, Shawn Kemp.

I felt the bacon and pork belly calling and I became the Executive Sous at Local 360, working for Robin Leventhal where I learned how to rally a team. Leaving 360 for Toulouse Petit, I served again as Lead Sous but felt the bacon missing in my life. It worked out that Skillet was looking to hire! Conceptually, I was in love, super excited to be apart of this growing eat local concept. The food I now create is driven by heritage and sustainable farms, as well as local companies with similar ideals. Keep it fresh and made with love from the source to the plate.

When I take my apron off, I unwind at home with my wife Deanna and our babies Lux & Layla.

Greg Petrillo

CFO | The Skillet Group

Josh and I met in 2008, shortly after my wife and I moved to Seattle from Atlanta. I have always had an interest in food and thought the concept of providing elevated, exceptional meals in a street food format was a winner. We talked for about a year about strategies to expand the business and in the end, I became an investor in Skillet.

I have spent most of my career in the technology business, having worked throughout the US and Europe. But as the pace of growth within Skillet accelerated, I decided it was time for a career change and so left the corporate world in 2011 to devote my full time energies to expanding the Skillet brand.

What a ride it has been so far! The original street food business has morphed into one of the most exciting catering firms in Seattle. We now distribute our bacon jam to hundreds of retailers throughout the US and Canada. The two Skillet Diners -- on Capitol Hill and in Ballard -- continue to attract a loyal following of Skillet fans, more than 20,000 folks every month. And the Skillet:Counter at the Seattle Center Armory is a favorite food destination for tourists visiting our city throughout the year. All of this working with an amazing team of passionate, talented, energetic food professionals across each of the Skillet companies. It has been both the most fun and the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life!

Ann Downs

Finance Director | The Skillet Group

I came to Skillet after fifteen years in the wine industry, where I was fortunate to work for some of the finest producers in Oregon and Washington. Financial management in small, local companies is my niche and a switch I made a few years out of business school, after many years with major banking organizations. I’ve found my place in small, creatively-centered cultures and have never looked back. Long an avid student of food, cooking and wine, I am lucky to have found an opportunity to marry my skills and interests and am delighted to be a part of the Skillet team.

Crellin Pauling

Director of Operations | Skillet Diners

I am a Seattle native. I started my professional career in real estate but quickly fell in love with the pace and personal interaction of the restaurant industry. I entered the restaurant biz in 2006 as a bartender after graduating from the ABC Bartending School in Tukwila. By 2008 I was loving the work as the manager of the bar and blues venue, Alligator Soul, in Everett, Washington. The highlight for me was handcrafting cocktails and creating a great experience for every individual guest. From working in the trenches, I gained experience and know-how that brought awareness to developing working operational procedures. I joined Skillet for the launch of the Capitol Hill diner in May of 2011. Working with a group of like-minded individuals with passion for what they are creating continues to be a rewarding experience.

Mike "Mookie" Carter

Chef de Cuisine | Skillet: Counter

After 8 years of working on Wall St. and in sales I decided that the kitchen would be a place with a little more sanity. Let’s just say I am not always entirely correct. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and I still remember the gold, orange and yellow step stool I used as a child to see over the stove. As a New Yorker from a very diverse background I’ve been exposed to many different flavors and cuisines from all around the world.

I moved to Miami in 2005, than back to New York a year later cooking along the way. It wasn’t until I found myself in Seattle that both literally and figuratively the spark was ignited. Although New York is a food mecca in its own right, Seattle has the local passion, that unsaid and understood craftsmanship that my heart longed for. After finding Skillet Counter in 2012, meeting the people, working with the staff and seeing the meticulous care for local, fresh, and sustainable product I was won over. Although leaving for a brief stint after a year and a half to join Chef Brendan McGill and James Pech to open Altstadt my heart was left at Skillet.

I feel passion comes from within and generally it is not a learned trait. I have been in the food industry for over 15 years and although my path hasn’t always been a straight one, the kitchen is where I have always returned. It is the source of my sanity and foundation of my passion for food.

David Van Gelder

Chef de Cuisine | Skillet Street Food & Catering

I was raised on the southern coast, in Mobile, Alabama, where my grandmother was the largest influence on my motivation to pursue cooking as a career. As a teenager, my family moved to Sunriver, Oregon and I began my professional career, training under Chef Rick Ramsey throughout high school.

After high school, I attended the Western Culinary Institute in Portland and upon graduation, gained a position in the cruise industry where I remained for 10 years, working from sous chef to executive at age 24.

But the cruise industry is not forever, and after leaving the ships, I landed in Seattle, working as executive chef at Teatro Zinzanni, developing menus and working for Tom Douglas.

I feel as though my past experience has prepared me for my role as Chef de Cuisine at Skillet Street Food and Catering. We have a great team and it is exciting to develop new menus and deliver the Skillet food experience around the Seattle area for wedding receptions, corporate events, and weekly street food locations.

Katie Benjamin

General Manager | Skillet Street Food & Catering

I think that there are certain things in this world that choose you. For me, one of those things has been Hospitality. I love everything about it and always have. When I was a little girl I made place cards for nearly every meal, written in my best penmanship, with a calligraphy pen (that I assured my father I could not live without). Perfectly creased little tents branded with my parents’ and brothers’ names on them graced every setting. I would set the breakfast table with napkins folded into birds of paradise and I demanded that we put the milk into a china pitcher before I put it on my frosted flakes. This drove my mother crazy, and often made me late for my school bus, but I love the little details.

Holidays always meant that the lace tablecloth would go to the special dry cleaners downtown – the one that used real starch to make it lay flat. I spent the night before our extended family arrived setting the table full of glassware and silver that I would adjust countless times. I always wanted to drink my juice out of the crystal glassware. I would pour over cookbooks and insist that we make everything from scratch. My mother would suggest a store bought pie and I would wail in agony, I wanted to make my own crust, I wanted to bake a pumpkin.

As an adult I refuse to wait for a holiday to host a dinner party. My favorite party as of late was a meatloaf party where we played every song sung by Meatloaf while we made a meatloaf - just like the one you can order at the Skillet Diner. It was an epic dinner party, great music, great people and great food. Eating foods made from scratch is still important to me, I believe that is one of the best things you can do for yourself. I think that is one of the reasons I respect the food at Skillet. So much of what we serve is made in house and only from high quality ingredients.

As a gal who grew up on the East Coast, it was hard to imagine any place I wanted to be more than New York City. I took a dream job planning events onboard cruise ships with plans of returning to the city. The cruise lines took me all over the world, but docked one summer day in Seattle. One look at a clear Seattle view and I knew I was here to stay. The Pacific Northwest is such a great playground and the food scene here…well…hello gorgeous!!!

People and food are two of my favorite things, I consider myself lucky have the privilege of planning your event with you. Skillet allows me to travel all over the Pacific Northwest to throw parties and feed people. Can life get any better for this girl? Give me a call, or send me an email, and let’s get this party started. Don’t worry - you can pick the soundtrack.

Jill Paxton

Operations Manager | Skillet Food Products

My Skillet career began in the summer of 2011 and has quickly progressed into the best “first” job I could have ever hoped for.

I grew up as a chicken fried steak-eating kid in Wyoming and migrated to Seattle to study communications and pre- law at the University of Washington. I graduated in 2010 and happened upon Skillet’s call for a sales manager not long after. With a talented chef as a mother and a lifelong salesman as a father, becoming the sales manager for Skillet Foods was a perfect match. I love the challenge and reward my job presents to me each day and I look forward to a very long career with the Skillet family. And having such easy access to our delicious comfort food has turned out to be just icing on the bacon jam cake.

Ani Pendergast

Marketing Manager | The Skillet Group

After a long and winding road I am happy to call Skillet home. I moved to Seattle right out of High School and graduated with an AAA in Photography, but I abandoned everything for Alaska.

I spent my twenties as if I were retired. In the summers I ran a hotel/resturant in Alaska, and traveled the world in the winters. I backpacked around Europe, lived in New York, Uruguay and New Mexico. I road tripped up, over, and across the United States, including the Pacific Coast Highway and Route 66. I have checked 51 National Parks off my list. I've experienced Rio at Carnival, surfed the coasts of Costa Rica, touched the Berlin Wall, and enjoyed the Solstice Midnight Sun in Dawson City, Yukon.

10 years with a backpack on finally got to me and I was accepted into the Electronic Design and Multimedia Program at the City College of New York. My life is now stationary. I got married in Hawaii, and we have settled down outside of Seattle with our newborn and dog.