Galaga in the break room. Views of the Space Needle. Meeting interesting people. There are plenty of perks to working at Nordstrom HQ, but topping the list would be our stellar employee café, where culinary delights like huevos rancheros, fire-grilled flank steak and wood-fired pizzas are made to order while you wait.
If you hit up the pizza oven as frequently as we do, you’ll notice daily specials—sometimes odd (we ate one with charred lime slices once), unfailingly tasty, and cleverly named after notable figures from history or fiction. We dug “The Beast Mode” during Seahawks week and “The Agent Dale Cooper” during Twin Peaks week. But it was only recently, upon realizing we were in the flavorful midst of Big Lebowski week, that we knew we had to dig deeper.
Keep reading for five Dude-approved pizza recipes you can re-create at home—and words from sous chef James Edmunds on the process behind the pies.
[A film noir wrapped in a Western set in the early ’90s, The Big Lebowski might be our favorite Coen brothers film of all time—and that’s saying something. For the uninitiated, here’s the trailer.]
Sous chef James Edmunds, regarding his culinary method: “I just transferred here from a different café location, and the pizza themes were something I inherited. To be honest, I thought they were a bit corny at first. Turns out, they’re actually a lot of fun and inspire me to make more interesting pizzas. For me, the idea is to be familiar without being patronizing. At first, I tried to be local to Seattle, with themes like Almost Live! and Twin Peaks, but it was still just me looking them up and matching names to already-created pizzas. With the Big Lebowski pizzas, it was the first time I actually used the characters to create the recipes around—which led to some interesting results.”
Monday: The Smokey
Toppings: Marinara, smoked mozzarella, roasted eggplant, basil chiffonade.
Backstory: “I usually start the week with sort of a vague character or name, so as not to give the whole thing away. I chose Smokey because, while being a minor character, he was involved in one of the most iconic scenes in the movie.”
Tuesday: The Theodore Donald “Donny” Kerabatsos
Toppings: Spinach pesto, feta cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives.
Backstory: “It sounded Greek, so I ran with that—but instead of just throwing spinach on there, we made a nice pesto out of it for the sauce. I wanted to run a quote underneath each pizza on the menu, but without context, most of Donny’s didn’t make much sense—and if we did provide context, it would mostly just be Walter swearing at him.”
Wednesday: The Jesus Quintana
Toppings: Salsa verde, chorizo, grilled red onion, goat cheese, queso fresco.
Backstory: “This is a pizza that Robert, our pizza guy, texted me while he was on vacation. I liked his take on it. I didn’t want to leave ‘The Jesus’ out, although the source material was a little dark.”
Thursday: The Walter Sobchak
Toppings: Chimichurri sauce, chived cream cheese, shredded beef, shaved jalapeño.
Backstory: “First, I looked up food served for ‘Shabbos!’ but nothing really stood out for a pizza. I also considered a Vietnamese pizza, but really, that’s just ridiculous. So I ended up going with the chimichurri sauce and flank steak that we braised overnight in the pizza oven, to reflect his ‘fiery’ temper. Yep, a bit of a stretch. I almost named the pizza, ‘This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!'” [Ed. note: If you’ve seen the edited-for-TV version, you’ll know what he means.]
Friday: The Dude
Toppings: Truffle cream sauce, herb-roasted wild mushrooms, Medjool dates.
Backstory: “For this one, it was a challenge to not let the theme take over the pizza. I really considered doing a Kahlúa cream sauce with vodka-braised chicken—a White Russian pizza. Which looks good on paper, but I thought it would elicit a chuckle followed by a prompt, ‘I’ll take a pepperoni pizza, please.’ Instead, I appealed to The Dude’s trippy nature with a truffle cream sauce and wild mushrooms.”
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You’ve heard of Lebowski Fest, right? The next one is coming up in Chicago next month.
Diehard Lebowski fans: Make sure to get ordained as a Dudeist priest (or just create some Dudeist memes, visit the Dudeist Museum and learn about Great Dudes in History) at Dudeism.com.
[Photo illustration by Justin Abbott. Imagery © Gramercy Pictures.]