Author(s): Blaine Wetzel
2015 JAMES BEARD WINNER BEST CHEF: NORTHWEST Sea and Smoke Sea and Smoke is a travelogue chronicling the plucky ambition of a young chef determined to create a world class dining destination in an unlikely place. A native of the Pacific Northwest, two-time James Beard winning chef Blaine Wetzel saw Lummi Island, with fewer than 1,000 residents, as the perfect vehicle for his brand of hyperlocalism: a culinary celebration of what is good and nearby and flavorful. Now, a reservation at The Willows Inn is one of the most sought-after in the world. The smokehouse, the fishermen, and the farmer yield the ingredients for unforgettable meals at The Willows, reflecting the foggy, sea-salty coast that surrounds the island. The tale of the restaurant's rise to the top is told by award-winning journalist Joe Ray, who immersed himself in life on Lummi Island for a year, documenting how it all comes together to make The Willows Inn one of the world's great destination restaurants.
Chef Blaine Wetzel has been cooking since age 14, including as chef-de-partie at Noma in Copenhagen. Chef Wetzel was listed by Food & Wine magazine as one of its Best New Chefs of 2012. He was a James Beard Award finalist in 2013, then won the James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year award in 2014 and Best Chef of the Northwest in 2015. He lives on Lummi Island. Joe Ray has been writing and shooting food and travel stories around the world for more than fifteen years. His work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED Magazine, and The Guardian. He lives in Seattle.