At the center of the Seattle restaurant scene is the drive for a local, organic, and sustainable food movement. Seattle-based chefs take pride in their Pacific Northwest surroundings, constantly looking for fresh and seasonal locally foraged ingredients- many even growing their own adjacent to their restaurants. With culinary talent that is both experienced and energized, local and internationally influenced, classic and innovative, it is no wonder Seattle is home to over 10 James Beard award winnings restaurants, chefs, and restaurateurs.
By Emily Kelly
After being nominated two out of the prior three years, Holly Smith took home the James Beard award in 2008 for Best Chef in the Northwest for her culinary accomplishments at Café Juanita. Located in an unsuspecting neighborhood and an even more discrete building, Café Juanita is known for its authentic Northern Italian flavors created with organic ingredients.
Chef Jason Wilson puts an artistic touch on every dish that comes out of his kitchen at Crush, a French and American fusion restaurant that emphasizes seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. With the amount of care and attention Wilson puts on dishes from beginning to end, it’s no wonder he won Best Chef in the Northwest in 2010.
As a quintessential Seattle restaurant experience with local organic ingredients and menu comprised of a unique fusion of flavors, Dahlia Lounge has been nominated for Best Chef in the Northwest a total of 6 times, taking the title twice. Local legend and founder of Dahlia Lounge, Tom Douglas, was nominated for Outstanding Restaurateur two years in a row.
FareStart was proudly awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award in 2011 as a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that provides job training and placement for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. FareStart has been serving the community since 1992 by providing “Great Food, Better Lives.”
Although ownership changed hands in 2013, James Beard winner for Best Chef: Northwest and Flying Fish founder Christine Keff passed along her influence and continues to work with the new chefs to keep Flying Fish’s rightful place as a beloved Seattle staple, with a new influx of youthful technique.
2007’s Best Chef: Northwest John Sundstrom focuses on getting the freshest seasonal ingredients from local artisans in creating his inventive menus comprised of Pacific Northwest favorites.
Making his mark on the Pacific Northwest with the renowned Herb Farm, Best Chef: Northwest Jerry Traunfeld ventured to Capitol Hill with his newer restaurant Poppy. The inspiration behind Poppy is the “thali;” the serving of a large platter comprised of numerous small plates, providing a modern Pacific Northwest tasting menu for each diner.
Chef Thierry Rautureau won Best Chef: Northwest for Rover’s, which has since closed. After the closing of Rover’s, Rautureau opened two more highly acclaimed restaurants with modern French menus and ambiance to match, Luc and Loulay.
Sitka & Spruce’s the Pacific Northwest flavor-filled menu draws inspiration from 2012’s Best Chef: Northwest Matt Dillon’s international culinary ventures with influence from Spanish, North African, and Persian cooking techniques, creating a one-of-a-kind Seattle dining experience.
Terra Plata is the stomping grounds of James Beard award winning chef Tamara Murphy, where she revolves the menu around an “earth to plate” concept, paired with locally crafted spirits, beers, and wines.
Maria Hines is the winner of Best Chef: Northwest, and was more recently a Semi-Finalist for Outstanding Chef in 2013. She has shown her versatility in Seattle with her New American restaurant Tilth, and flavorful Mediterranean inspired restaurant Golden Beetle.