How the Foraged Menu at The Willows Inn Reflects Lummi Island

The Willows Inn on Lummi Island is an experience unlike any other, calm and peaceful, separated from a busy bustling life, and so special that guests have to take a ferry ride in order to take a seat at the restaurant. What makes this restaurant even more unique? The ingredients are foraged, and if they're not found in the forests surrounding the concept, they are grown in a private culinary farm (where no produce is sold — all of it goes to the restaurant), or caught in the sea in which the island lives. The Willows Inn is a truly sustainable work of art.

In this episode of "On Foodable Side Dish," Foodable video correspondent L.M. Archer takes us to the Pacific Northwest to sit down with the head chef at Willows Inn, Blaine Wetzel. Wetzel, a native of Washington, was named Best New Chef by Food & Wine Magazine in 2012 and won the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year award in 2015. It's safe to say he knows his stuff.

"I'd say the menu is always a pretty accurate description of that moment in time and in nature on the island," Wetzel said, reflecting that it's not so much seasonality that determines their dishes but just the day-to-day weather.

Was it stormy one day and the local fisherman couldn't net anything at sea? Was it too cold to search the forest for mushrooms? The menu is a snapshot of the connection Willows Inn has with its environment at that exact time and place.

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And how did this chef get involved with foraging?

"I grew up in Olympia, Wash., not far from here. Kind of was in the woods a lot and just outside. Grew up in a family that would collect mushrooms, blackberries, or something," he said.

One day, a surfer came into the restaurant, and while filthy, brought mushrooms from the woods. With how much fun Wetzel had preparing those mushrooms, he became hooked to the foraging concept. The customer favorites at Willows Inn so far have to be the fish and shellfish available, but Wetzel's favorite part of the restaurant is working with his team and connecting with people. The Willows Inn's kitchen is filled with crew members that share ideas, and in turn, Wetzel felt like the pace of the restaurant has taught him patience and to prepare his dishes with what he calls a persistent intention.

Watch the full episode now to learn more about The Willows Inn. 

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Washington's Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Washington's Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery

By L.M. Archer, Foodable Contributor

For anyone about to start their own business, winery owner Mark McNeilly’s unconventional success story may sound more like a cautionary tale than an entrepreneurial blueprint. McNeill’s interest in wine making sparked during a fluke flip through a Wine Spectator issue on Napa Valley. Thinking “maybe I can do that, “ he opted out of college at Western University, landed a wine distributor job with Unique Wine Company, and spent five years covering territories in Snohomish and eastern King County, all the while wrestling with a nagging desire to make his own wine. 

That persistent passion eventually paid off. Passion, plus an unusual knack for attracting the right people at the right time, asking the right questions, and an uncanny ability to collaborate and delegate, catapulted McNeilly into the role of ‘accidental impresario,’ founder of Mark Ryan Winery, and a juggernaut in the Washington state wine industry.

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Regional Foraging Experts Share Secrets to Utilizing Fruits of the Forest

Regional Foraging Experts Share Secrets to Utilizing Fruits of the Forest

By L.M. Archer, Foodable Contributor

For many Seattle chefs, foragers play a key role in delivering fresh, seasonal fare. Yet some chefs, and many consumers, fail to understand the difference between culinary foragers and commercial purchasing agents. Often shrouded in mystery, most foragers prefer communing with nature to burnishing their brand.

Here, Foodable TV reveals regional foraging experts’ secrets to utilizing fruits of the forest. 

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Seattle’s Mandated Composting Program Enlists Restaurants to Reduce Waste, Improve Efficiency, and Enhance Community

Seattle’s Mandated Composting Program Enlists Restaurants to Reduce Waste, Improve Efficiency, and Enhance Community

By L.M. Archer, Foodable Contributor

In 2015, Seattle mandated commercial and residential composting in an effort to reduce landfill waste. The ordinance enjoyed 74 percent approval.

“Seattle is a national leader in recycling,” Tim Croll, solid waste director of Seattle Public Utilities, told the Capitol Hill Times. “Most of our city’s businesses and residents are already composting. This requirement is a progression of our collective efforts that help our city become even greener.”

For restaurant owners, the popular compost program provides some unexpected benefits. Here, Foodable TV talks with Seattle industry leaders about how Seattle’s composting program helps restaurants reduce food waste, enhance community, and improve the bottom line.

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National Airlines Now Featuring Elevated In-Flight Culinary Programs

National Airlines Now Featuring Elevated In-Flight Culinary Programs

By L.M. Archer, Foodable Contributor

As consumer demand for fresh, healthy meals grows, more and more airlines invest incarefully curated, seasonal food and drink offerings to meet these needs. A select few airlines even seek to purvey artisan fare from regional farmers, fishermen, cheese mongers, foragers, craft beverage and wine makers.

Here, Foodable TV unveils four airlines elevating their in-flight food programs.

DELTA Airlines

Call it a flair for Southern hospitality. Delta Airlines savors a long history of enhanced customer in-flight service. In 2007, Delta partnered with Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson. Robinson oversees an ambitious annual selection of exceptional onboard wines. Delta also serves an ever-changing roster of local craft beers.

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Behind the Counter with Seattle Pastry Chef William Leaman of Bakery Nouveau

Behind the Counter with Seattle Pastry Chef William Leaman of Bakery Nouveau

By L.M. Archer, Foodable Contributor

When girding up for holiday festivities, did you know that Valentine’s Day ranks second behind Christmas in consumer spending? According to the National Retail Federation, Americans dished almost $19 billion celebrating Valentine’s Day in 2015. Chocolate accounts for at least fifty percent of Valentine’s Day purchases, including artisan treats concocted by pastry chefs.

In Seattle, chocolate lovers swoon over enticing assortments available at specialty chocolatiers like Fran’s Chocolates, Theo Chocolate, and Chocolopolis. But for those in search of the perfect patisserie, Seattle cult favorite Bakery Nouveau beckons.

Here, Foodable TV sneaks a peak behind the counter with Bakery Nouveau’s award-winning pastry chef William Leaman to find out some of the secrets behind his sweet success.

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Two of Seattle's Top Female Chefs Share Secrets to Success

Two of Seattle's Top Female Chefs Share Secrets to Success

By L.M. Archer, Foodable Contributor

Does Seattle’s culinary industry prevent women cooks from scaling its echelon of empire elites? Hardly. Here, Foodable TV shares two top female chefs’ recipes for successfully summiting Seattle’s towering restaurateur scene.

Chef Maria Hines | Maria Hines Restaurants

A rock climber outside the kitchen, Chef Maria Hines ascends many a career peak as well, including earning a James Beard Best Chef Northwest 2009 award, and garnering appearances on Food Network Iron Chef America, The Martha Stewart Show, and Bravo TV’s Top Chef Masters | Kitchen Tour. Maria also owns Maria Hines Restaurants, which includes Tilth, Agrodolce, and Golden Beetle. Hines credits Fay Nakanishi, former Executive Chef at Croce’s in San Diego, for sparking her interest in a culinary career.

”The the bar was really high,” recounts Hines of that first restaurant job. “Fay was a really great mentor.”

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Award-Winning Seattle Sommelier Chris Horn Shares Secrets to Building a Successful, Seasonal Wine List

Award-Winning Seattle Sommelier Chris Horn Shares Secrets to Building a Successful, Seasonal Wine List

By L.M. Archer, Foodable Contributor

Contemplating how to shake up your winter bar menu, and put a new twist on old standards? For sommeliers, stirring up a wine bar menu poses a different challenge. It’s not simply a matter of taste, but of terroir. How do you offer a world of wines without losing your audience, or your focus?

Here, FoodableTV talks to 2015 Washington State ‘Sommelier of the Year’ Chris Horn, Wine Director for Purple Cafe and Wine Bar in Seattle and Bellevue, about his secrets to crafting a successful seasonal wine list.

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Seattle Food Industry Experts Predict 2016 Culinary Trends

Seattle Food Industry Experts Predict 2016 Culinary Trends

By L.M. Archer, Foodable Contributor

Ever wish you had a crystal ball to prognosticate about culinary trends for the coming year?

Some restaurant professionals opt to bypass the occult and hire marketing consultants to provide the latest data about changing market trends. Consumer research firms, such as NPD Group, offer analytics on everything from apparel to watches, including food. According to NPD, Americans today purchase more almond milk, Greek yogurt, quinoa and sea salt than in 2011. And consumers’ fancy for fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, and poultry grew over twenty percent between 2003 and 2013.

Foodable WebTV Network takes it a step further by tracking down some of Seattle’s favorite foodies to share their insights about coming culinary trends in 2016:

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Culinary Boom Towns: Seattle's 4 Fastest Growing Foodie Neighborhoods

Culinary Boom Towns: Seattle's 4 Fastest Growing Foodie Neighborhoods

By L.M. Archer, Foodable Contributor

Seattle’s skyline says it all — the town’s booming. Construction cranes loom large over all areas of the city, threatening to overshadow the trademark Space Needle. This boom also brings higher tax revenue. The City of Seattle anticipates a 4.5% growth in 2016, thanks largely to Amazon and Boeing.

“Boeing and Amazon have become major drivers of the growth in local employment,” reports Office of the Mayor Ed Murray’s 2016 Budget Highlights.

The boom town effect trickles down into other economic sectors, including restaurants. Classics like Canlis, Anthony’s Homeport, and Daniel’s Broiler still hold court for Seattle’s elite sports figures, corporate executives and media elites with high-net worth and disposable income.

But such old guard sites now jostle for equal time with an influx of upstart eateries elbowing to serve Seattle’s high-income, high-octane, high-tech hipsters. These up-and-comer consumers demand trendy tipples, craft cocktails, farm-to-table fare, and casual vibes suitable for their frenetic, far-flung family and professional lives.

Additionally, the Port of Seattle reports continued double-digit growth in passenger traffic to the Emerald City in 2015, both by air and cruise ship. Seattle’s cuisine reflects the escalating demands expected of an international hub, including Asian-fusion finds like Wild Ginger, group-friendly gastropubs like Spur, and Northwest cuisine cafe/bars like Local 360. 

Moreover, the growth doesn’t just ‘trickle-down.’ It trickles out. Neighborhoods like Ballard, SODO, Georgetown, and West Seattle benefit, too, resulting in their own ‘boomlets.’

Here, Foodable WebTV Network takes a peek at four of Seattle’s most popular foodie regions on the rise:

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