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Salish chef killed in I-90 accident

SNOQUALMIE - Brandon Jason was a chef, but his boss will remember him as a race horse.

"He was a racing horse out a gate," said Roy Breiman, executive chef at the Salish Lodge and Spa. "For a while he was in the gate, wondering what he was going to do, but then he busted out."

The sprint came to a screeching halt in the early morning hours of Sept. 7 when Jason's car collided with a truck on Interstate-90 just east of Exit 18 in Issaquah. Jason, 26, died at the scene.

Jason's colleagues at the Salish can't make sense of the accident, but they can remember a driven man who was set to make his mark professionally in the culinary world, and personally with everyone he met.

"We are all just kind of in shock," said Sam Johnson, the lodge's manager.

In August, Jason celebrated his one-year anniversary at the Salish, a luxury resort in Snoqualmie that has been on "best of" lists in Condé Nast Traveler magazine. Breiman said Jason didn't have a lot of experience prior to coming to the Salish, but he had a drive and intangible quality to his work that caused Breiman to bring him on board.

"Brandon was a young man who was looking for a path and found one in cooking and I wanted to give him that chance," Breiman said.

Jason worked as a chef in both the lodge's Attic bistro and main restaurant. Breiman said Jason's work ethic stood out in the kitchen, which is staffed with around 40 chefs and other employees.

"The light was on for him," Breiman said.

Last fall, Jason got a part-time job working for Steve Orcutt, a North Bend man who had started a precooked meal business called delBistro. Orcutt said Jason, who worked on his own entrée dishes and signature sauces, made some of the business' best sellers.

"He was incredibly creative," Orcutt said.

Orcutt remembered a photo shoot for the business that Jason helped organize. Jason was meticulous with how the food was presented and kept sending Orcutt back to the refrigerator to get more dishes to display.

"He wanted everything to look perfect," he said.

Jason continued to work his way up at the Salish. At his last night of work, he had completed his first shift preparing fish and jokingly warned the others in the kitchen that they needed to look out; he was making his way up.

"It meant so much to him and he meant so much to us," Breiman said.

Breiman said Jason's death hit the close-knit staff hard.

"Brandon was like our baby, and he was like a son to me," he said.

Jason's Acura hit the trailer of the truck on I-90, causing the car to go underneath it. Jason's car and the truck then struck another vehicle. Jason's car burst into flames. The driver and passenger in the other vehicle, along with the driver of the truck, survived the accident.

The exact cause of the accident is still being investigated.

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