Monday, November 2, 2015

New Publication: NW Tastemaker Now In Stores

A special edition magazine, NW Tastemaker is one of the most fascinating projects I've ever worked on. Developed to define Northwest cuisine, it showcases local farmers, charcuterie producers, fisherwomen, and other food folk to tell the stories behind the Northwest's most inspired restaurants. As contributing editor, I worked closely with Allen Cox, editor of Northwest Travel Magazine, and together, we reached out to the Northwest's best chefs, from Idaho to Alaska, to hear their definitions of Northwest cuisine. NW Tastemaker is the culmination of their perspectives, and it tells the often untold stories behind the dishes inside of the Northwest's most famous restaurants.

Here's what you can expect: NW Tastemaker is broken up into eight sections, each containing a variety of articles to take into account the various sides of Northwest food, from fishing to cheesemaking to making bean-to-bar chocolate. Each section concludes with recipes from Northwest restaurants and a consumer guide to help you find the best local ingredients. Check out the spread below for a portion of our From the Sea section, including the story of how shellfish farming can save the world's oceans.

Perhaps the real reason I loved working on NW Tastemaker was that it brought me closer to Northwest cuisine. I don't think it's necessarily important, or even possible, to create a steadfast definition of Northwest cuisine, but identifying the elements that connect us, whether in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, British Columbia (or the Tutka Bay in Alaska in the case of chef Kirsten Dixon), gives us a better sense of place. A better sense of community. A place where we can begin to move forward.

Buy NW Tastemaker here, or find it on the shelves at Fred Meyer, Albertsons, Safeway, and more.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Upcoming TEDx Talk: Words, Not Ideas: The Secret to Writing a Book

Funny enough, my talk will focus on words of wisdom imparted by my neighbor, Ted Enslin, a poet who wrote around 120 books during his lifetime. I am so excited to get to talk book writing at TEDx Spokane, which this year focuses on "Knowing It Again." For anyone who has attempted to write a nonfiction book only to get stalled, I hope to reveal a new, practical side to the writing process. The goal is to see writing through new eyes and finish the manuscript you've begun,

The deets:


Words, Not Ideas: How to Write a Book

A professional writer who also coaches other writers, helps us find ways to dust off our manuscript and finish that masterpiece that’s been calling our name from under those piles of aspirations.
Mattie John Bamman is a writer and editor focused on food, travel, and poetry. Wine, wilderness, and words brought him to Portland, Oregon, where he serves as editor of Eater Portland and regularly writes for Northwest Travel Magazine. Mattie has contributed to 11 books on culinary travel and 9 travel guides to Italy and the United States, and he also provides developmental editing services to help others write books. He got his start interning at McSweeney’s Publishing and ZYZZYVA literary magazine. See Mattie’s writing and photography portfolios

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Upcoming Speaking Engagement at B.C. Tourism Industry Conference

Facebook/BC Tourism Industry Conference

On October 21, I'll be at the British Columbia Tourism Industry Conference to give a talk about building relationships with the media. Also sitting on the panel will be Explorer Media publisher Dave Peterson, Northwest Travel Magazine editor Allen Cox, and travel writer Nancy Mueller. Check out the full description here:

B-2 - Building Solid Relationships with Travel Media
Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015 
9:45 am - 10:45 am 
How do you get on--and stay on--travel media's radar? Join this panel of travel media industry leaders and get the inside scoop on how to venture beyond the press release, how to compete for and sustain media attention, and what current reader trends drive the most relevant content.
Also learn crucial information about the state of print and digital spaces that can influence intelligent marketing decisions. 

The B.C. Tourism Industry Conference will be October 19-21, 2015.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

3-Question Interview with Jenny Nickolaus and Chris Whaley of The American Local

Working on an article on Portland izakaya, I received an awesome perspective on The American Local's version of Americanized izakaya. Below, owners Jenny Nickolaus and Chris Whaley discuss the philosophy behind The American Local:

How would you describe The American Local's style of izakaya (in particular, I'm wondering how you translated the concept of traditional izakaya dishes to American dishes)?   
We feel that most Americans enjoy eating and sharing with their friends and family. If you think about how we serve our family meals at home, most of us cook several dishes (protein, vegetables, starch) and put them in the middle of the table for everybody to help themselves, while we eat, drink and catch up with each other. We just wanted to bring that to life in a restaurant setting and izakaya seemed like the natural way promote that familial/communal vibe.

Additionally, we have always appreciated the Japanese sensibilities towards food and service, so we did what every red blooded American does - we took an idea we liked from another culture's playbook and commandeered it to fit us. Just as American culture is a melting pot of all of the other cultures that live here, we think of American cuisine in the same way. We don't think American food is just hamburgers, BBQ and fried chicken. It now includes burritos, lasagna and sushi (just to name a few) and because we bill ourselves as an "American Izakaya", we play fast and loose with the "traditional" izakaya dishes.

We serve raw fish dishes, but make them more in the style of an Italian crudo than a Japanese sashimi. We serve skewers, and they run the gamut from fairly traditional Japanese skewers like tsukune (chicken meatball skewer) to completely un-traditional  (pork belly skewer with maple and sriracha) and a lot that is in between (fusion-y for lack of a better descriptor).

What are two or three dishes that really embody the drinking-food concept and why?

I almost always think of things you can eat with your hands when I think of drinking food, so my go-to dishes are: Crispy grit cakes with salmon tartar and creme fraiche and our fried chicken. The grit cakes are the perfect drinking food starter, the flavors are familiar (think lox, cream cheese and bagels), but done in a way that is just plain fun to eat. And, importantly, you can eat it while drinking beer, wine, whiskey or sake and it will be appropriate with them all.

Fried chicken is something that you find in a lot of different cultures, and it's extremely satisfying with an ice cold beer no matter where you're from. Ours is this East-meets-West mix of crunchy, salty, and spicy that embodies what The American Local is trying to do concept-wise. We use a wet batter that is more Southern USA than karaage in style, but our house-made hot sauce has a very Asian bent to it. For us, it's about creating that bridge so that no matter where you're from you can understand our dishes.

Are you still offering sake on tap?

Heck yes! We love the Momo Kawa sake (Sake 1), and the fact that is on top is so awesome! We make cocktails with it, we carbonate it, we use it on a lot of our food too (like the tare on a lot of our skewers).

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Interview with John Sundstrom, Chef and Owner of Lark

The following interview was made possible by the NW Tastemaker, a culinary travel publication forthcoming from Northwest Travel Magazine. To read more interviews with the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest, visit Northwest Travel Magazine and

John Sundstrom, Chef and Owner of Lark

 Photo by Zack Bent
Seattle’s John Sundstrom, chef and owner of Lark, draws from an eclectic array of experiences. Before attending New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, Sundstrom apprenticed under Yasuyuki Shigarami, a chef classically trained in Japanese cuisine and sushi.  In addition to working in some of the finest resort hotels in the United States, Sundstrom has held the title of chef de cuisine at Tom Douglas’ Dahlia Lounge, where he further developed his appreciation for the Northwest's abundance of organic and locally sourced ingredients.

Along with his wife, JM Enos, and business partner,  Kelly Ronan, Chef Sundstrom opened Lark on Seattle’s Capitol Hill in 2003. An artisan restaurant, Lark has a seasonal rotating menu with a focus on dinner. In late 2014, Lark relocated a few blocks, and the team opened Bitter/Raw, a bar situated in the upstairs mezzanine at Lark, which houses a variety of crudo and charcuterie, as well as wine, beer, and cocktails. In early 2015, Chef Sundstrom also opened Slab Sandwiches + Pie, a take-out counter that provides sandwiches, hand pies, desserts, and coffee. Chef Sundstrom has been featured on Food Network’s “Food Nation” and “Best of” programs.  In 2007, the James Beard Foundation named him Best Chef Northwest.

1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?
The Northwest is a very special place, in that, our geography allows for a rich array of great edibles to thrive here. We have the bounty of the ocean, with it's salmon, black cod, halibut and shellfish. The lush forests full of wild mushrooms, berries and unique wild greens and vegetables. And of course the fertile, river valleys East of the Cascades that are capable of growing unrivaled crops of tomatoes, wheat, corn, grapes and hops. To me this bounty is what drives Northwest cuisine. Every chef is inspired by different cultures, maybe their own, maybe those around them. I feel like our region has much in common with Western Europe and so many of the dishes on Lark's menu are inspired by the cuisines of France, Spain, the British Isles and Scandinavia.

2-Who are six of your favorite purveyors that you regularly work with?

I've been cultivating a network of suppliers for almost 2 decades in the Northwest, many of whom have grown to become good friends. Some of my favorites:

Billy's Farm in Tonasket, WA. Billy and Stephanie grow amazing tomatoes, peppers, basil and peaches which we dream of for about 8 months every year, and then one day they arrive, and we eat and cook them with abandon.

Kurtwood Farm, Vashon Island. I've seen Kurt go from cafe and restaurant owner, to farmer/host/chef to author and lately cheesemaker. A true ground breaker. And his cheeses are fantastic!

Full Circle Farm, Carnation, WA. One of the first organic farms I really connected with almost 20 years ago. Andrew and his family have grown very close to me, and it's been a pleasure to see their farm and business grow and thrive. A true steward of the land Andrew has been influential in securing the future of organic farming in the Puget Sound area.

Jones Farm, Lopez Island. A wonderful family, raising animals, managing shellfish beds, raising vegetables, they do it all. And so young, a great example of farmings future.

Foraged and Found Edibles. I've been a fan of wild ingredients, long before they were cool. And Jeremy Faber is the leader in the Northwest for quality and integrity when it comes to the wild and foraged.

Yarmuth Farm, Darrington WA. Louise Yarmuth's goat cheeses are to die for! Nonna Capra, White Horse and Clementine just to name a few. And a few of us lucky chefs have access to her pigs and goats once or twice a year. Amazing flavor and so carefully raised.

Local Roots Farm, Duvall, WA. It's been close to 10 years that Jason and Siri started their farm, and they've been nailing it ever since. They've established a new way of working with chefs, where they come to us every year with new and delicious varietals of produce. It's awesome! A staple at many of Seattle's farmers markets, don't miss any of the greens originating in Italy.

3-When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?

For those rare nights out, I tend toward food I trust. I'm a big fan of Le Caviste. Not a huge menu, but carefully prepared and what a wine list! Japanese food is near and dear, and my favorite place for top notch sushi and sashimi is KappoTamura. A favorite spot for a lunch date with my wife is Il Corvo, always bustling, but we generally have the whole menu (only 6 or 8 dishes!) when we go and stretch out the afternoon.

4- Who are two other Northwest chefs that you admire? Why?

Jerry Traunfeld is an amazing chef, who has quietly been going about his craft ever since I arrived in this city. Always delicious, inventive and thoughtful. 

After an amazing trip to Argentina a few years ago, I've been inspired by it's scenery and it's rustic cuisine. Greg Denton and Gabi Quinonez of Ox in Portland, have created an unique restaurant that's true to both Argentina and Portland, and so, so good. I wish I had thought of it first!

5- In your opinion, is there an area of Northwest cooking that doesn't receive enough attention?
I think focussing on the beauty and potential of the small towns and rural areas that supply such amazing food to cook with. I'd like to see people being encouraged to go out and explore the region. 

6-Looking toward the future, what are you most excited to do in the kitchen?
As chefs travel the world and work in world class restaurants, then return to the NW, I think more and more personal expressions of the region will unfold. I can't wait to taste the future! For myself, I have everything I want to play with in front of me now; Bitter/Raw with it's seafood/shellfish and charcuterie bar; Slab Sandwiches + Pie, an entirely new direction for me; and of course Lark, all grown up and better than ever.

952 East Seneca Street
Seattle, WA 98122

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Interview with Holly Smith, Chef and Owner of Café Juanita

The following interview was made possible by the NW Tastemaker, a culinary travel publication forthcoming from Northwest Travel Magazine. To read more interviews with the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest, visit Northwest Travel Magazine and

Holly Smith, Chef and Owner of Café Juanita

Hailing from a food-loving family in Monkton, Maryland, Holly Smith is the chef and owner of Kirkland’s Café Juanita. Smith studied in Ireland under the tutelage of a Master Chef Peter Timmins at the Baltimore International Culinary College, and after moving to Seattle in 1993, she began working with Tom Douglas at the Dahlia Lounge. She was employed as the sous chef of the Dahlia Lounge for four years, and in 1999, fellow Seattle chef Tamara Murphy invited her to take part in the opening of Brasa.

Smith opened Cafe Juanita in Kirkland in April of 2000. Inspired by Northern Italian cuisine, she created a menu using seasonal, fresh artisan products from Italy and the Pacific Northwest. In 2008, Chef Smith won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest, and chef Smith and Café Juanita were nominated for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef and Outstanding Restaurant in 2011.

In a recent bold move, Smith briefly turned Café Juanita into a popup in Capital Hill. In July, she reopened the remodeled Café Juanita with a more contemporary decor, a new private dining room that seats 40, and an upper deck that seats eight.
1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?

I think the Hallmark of Northwest Cuisine for me is the depth of the community's commitment to and access to local ingredients, from both small and mid-sized farmers, artisans and companies. The network that is in place here is very special and, I think, rare in the U.S. I think the Northwest is an omnivore's paradise. Of course, we do have a strong Korean, Thai and Vietnamese presence in our restaurants, given our Pacific Rim culture... What I like are people who love this place and who travel and get inspiration and then bring that worldview back to the Northwest. I think that has the potential to help us grow as a world-class food region.

2. Who are six of your favorite purveyors that you regularly work with?
We love them all! I enjoy working with Oxbow Farms, Foraged and Found Edibles, Steel Wheels Farms, Full Circle Farms, Palouse Pastured Poultry, and SweetGrass Wagyu.

3. When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?
I must say sushi is my go-to, and I am always very happy at Kisaku and Sushi Kappo Tamura.

4. Who are two other Northwest chefs that you admire?
I admire all of the hard working chefs and cooks here. I always prefer to look at the scene as a whole and support it rather than call out one or two, when so many people are working so hard and with such passion.

5. In your opinion, is there an area of Northwest cooking that doesn't receive enough attention?
Well, I think that in general the media focuses on a "Best New" model that means that readers are constantly shown the hot new thing... It's great for us all as we open to be included, but is that the real best on any of those lists… doubtful. Of course, I say that after spending a long time working to improve and refine both food and service at one place. I know from experience as a guest, as well as a worker bee, that experience yields results. My last meal at Le Bernidan was the best ever! I think that a wider net could certainly be cast to find delicious food.

6. Looking toward the future, what are you most excited to do in the kitchen?
I think that our guests are becoming increasingly savvy and open to trying new things. I love that, because it means chefs are cooking from their hearts rather than from a formula. 

I am in the beginning stages of a very big remodel of my restaurant, and I am so excited to find out if all of the improvements we have made on paper will really translate as I foresee in service and experience! I am, of course, also excited to be operating a Pop Up in Seattle on Capitol Hill. It's fun to play with a tasting-menu-only pop up on the Seattle side after 14 + years of driving to Kirkland.

Café Juanita
9702 NE 120th Pl
 Kirkland, WA 98034

Monday, September 21, 2015

Interview with Roy Breiman, Culinary Director at Cedarbook Lodge

The following interview was made possible by the NW Tastemaker, a culinary travel publication forthcoming from Northwest Travel Magazine. To read more interviews with the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest, visit Northwest Travel Magazine and

Roy Breiman, Culinary Director of Copperleaf Restaurant at Cedarbook Lodge

Photo by Jeff Caven Photography 
After graduating from La Cordon Rouge Culinary School in Sausalito, California, Roy Breiman began his career as a chef working in four and five star restaurants in San Francisco and New York City. He went on to spend several years abroad in France, where he worked in multiple Michelin-starred restaurants. Upon returning to the United States, he took a job at Meadowood Napa Valley Resort, whose kitchen flourished under his direction.

In 2003, Chef Breiman came to Seattle, where he brought his talents to Salish Lodge & Spa before becoming Culinary Director of Copperleaf Restaurant at Cedarbrook Lodge. Known for his focus on sustainability, not only through food but also through affiliations with like-minded organizations, Breiman is at the forefront of the Northwest food movement. Working with small farms, ranchers, and fisherman, Breiman and his team are committed to bringing the total experience to each guest.

1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?

One Word, “Authentic.” Our local cuisine is seasonally inspired and agriculturally driven. We are fortunate to have access to high-density agriculturally rich regions and microclimates, which include the waters of the Puget Sound the grain fields of the Palouse, as well as the pasture lands of Western Washington. When you make these extraordinary products available to talented chefs, you create a unique story centered on local cuisine that’s based on superior ingredients. In turn, this creates what I like to call “seasonally inspired regional cuisine.”

2. Who are six of your favorite purveyors, whether farms and ranches or hot-sauce, salt, or olive-oil producers?

All of these producers possess a passionate pursuit of excellence within their craft! We Love 'em all. They are like family to us.

Pleasant View Farm (Duck, Foie Gras)
Green Man Microgreens (Organic Micro Greens)
Golden Glen Creamery (Farm Butter)
Oxbow Farm (Organic Produce)
Willowood Farm (Organic Produce)
Richter Farms (Rhubarb and Berries)
Taylor Shellfish (Oysters, Clams, Mussels,)
Forged and Found Edibles (Wild Mushrooms, Huckleberries and Foraged Greens)

3. When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?

Sitka and Spruce
Le Pichet
Café Juanita

4. Who are two other Northwest chefs that you admire?
Armandino Batali, Johnathan Sundstrom, and Holly Smith— They’re great human beings with great families, and they are fully committed to their craft and the success of their region. Also, they are full of inspiration and passion and are great mentors to a new generation of cooks.

5. In your opinion, is there an area of Northwest cooking that doesn't receive enough attention?

We do great with regional specialty products—i.e. seafood, shellfish, organic produce, specialty meats, cheeses and dairy—but not so well with “Direct to Market” artisanal products. Products that are focused on local and regional ingredients, such as jams, jellies, honeys, fruit-based products, grains etc. Unfortunately, driving public awareness is not as focused in this area, with prohibitive costs and a lack of professional kitchens to produce products commercially. Also, the competition to reach a larger market is intense. Regarding media, the bottom line is that these products are not sexy enough or captivating enough for their readers.

6. Looking toward the future, what about Northwest cuisine most excites you? What are you most excited to do in the kitchen?

I am excited to participate in the development and continued evolution of our local spirit. I am excited to see everything from the growth of modernist cuisine, to the continued growth and development of successful small farm agriculture in Washington State. Of course, I am also excited to continue to advocate for the protection of sustainable food systems within our region.

In terms of what I'm excited to do in the kitchen, the answer is "Everything." What we cook is a reflection of who we are—it is a reflection of our own personal growth as told in the story of our cuisine. We live life to the fullest, and along the way, we mature as human beings. As the seasons change, so do our perspectives. To have a platform to tell that story through the craft of cooking is a privilege, and I am humbled every time I have an opportunity to share that experience with others.

Cedarbrook Lodge
18525 36th Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98188