In a calm, fluid movement, Riley Starks scoops up a Rhode Island Red chicken, holds it between his legs, and, almost imperceptibly, ends the bird’s life. Moments later, he hands a bird and a knife to me and says, “Your turn.”

The owner of the tiny, far-flung island inn in Washington state posted a Craigslist ad seeking a seasonal chef. Across a continent and an ocean, it caught the attention of a young cook seeking to make his mark.