Chef profiles include familiar names from best-of lists, as well as a pop-up dinner series, Porkchop & Co. in Ballard and the recipe for Texas Caviar from Jack’s BBQ.
WHEN JULIEN PERRY first started sharing stories of Seattle chefs, most of her co-workers knew only one name: Tom Douglas. “He pretty much dominated the scene in 2004,” when Perry began a long-running restaurant show on KOMO radio.
Douglas still dominates, but Seattle’s dining scene has changed immeasurably over those years — as has the city. Perry has captured some of that metamorphosis in “Seattle Cooks” ($32.95, Figure 1 Publishing), the local installment of a cookbook series spotlighting notable chefs and bartenders.
Seattle’s population has grown to “an almost uncomfortable girth,” Perry writes. That’s affected chefs and diners in all kinds of ways. But, “as much expansion as Seattle has undergone in a short amount of time, its restaurant community seems to be getting smaller by the day,” she writes.
“Almost every participant is connected to another in some way.”
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Perry herself is a thread running through that tapestry; her interests in cooking, media and business crisscross over a career that includes studying pastry at the Art Institute of Seattle; running an espresso-cart catering business; baking at Thierry Rautureau’s former fine-dining landmark, Rover’s; and editing Eater Seattle. She co-founded the “One Night Only” dinner-party project and the “Chefodex” hire-a-chef business.
In Seattle, “The landscape has changed since Amazon moved in in a way that I don’t think anyone predicted,” she says. “There’s a commonality now with chefs all trying to figure out, ‘How can we do our own thing but appeal to this new diner who has emerged in recent years?’ ”
For the book’s profiles and recipes, she includes familiar names from best-of lists, including Rachel Yang of Revel, Brendan McGill of Hitchcock and Nathan Lockwood of Altura. Others might surprise even residents who carefully track the city’s dining scene. Seattle has grown so big that even dedicated diners can’t keep up. Her choices also include Surrell, a pop-up dinner series by chef Aaron Tekulve; Rider (and chef David Nichols, who left after the book was published) at the Hotel Theodore; and (one of my own favorites) Paul Osher’s “fun, creative” Porkchop & Co. in Ballard.
“The new places always get the hype. But then you get places like Manu’s Bodega that’s been open since 2013 and are a little under the radar …” she says. “What I hope is that people actually come to these restaurants and discover one of their new favorite places to go.”
Inevitably, she’s taken a snapshot of a time that’s already evolving into its next phase. A future book, she knows, would be as different as this one would have been in 2004.
In that city of the future, likely even bigger and more complex, she thinks the featured chefs would be “a lot of people you’ve never heard of,” maybe in formats we haven’t yet seen.
“I think people are finding ways to open up their own concepts when brick and mortar is out of their grasp … You don’t actually have to have a restaurant to be considered one of Seattle’s best chefs.”
From Jack Timmons of Jack’s BBQ
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
3 16-oz. cans black-eyed peas, rinsed
2 16-oz. cans corn, rinsed
1 4-oz. jar pimentos, chopped (including liquid)
1 bunch scallions, diced
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
½ bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. finely chopped jalapeño peppers
Salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado, pitted and chopped, for garnish
Tortilla chips for serving
For the dressing: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, and mix well.
For the salad: Combine all ingredients except avocado and tortilla chips in a large bowl, and toss to mix. Add dressing, adjust seasoning to taste and garnish with avocado. Serve with tortilla chips. (Timmons recommends making this family recipe a day in advance.)
From “Seattle Cooks” by Julien Perry