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The Inn is humble, on an island that’s just 10 miles long, with only about 900 residents.  And the 28-year-old chef seems humble, too, having found his restaurant gig in the classifieds.

In the rarified and competitive world of high-end cuisine, chefs approaching stardom tend to have a few grey hairs and a fair number of nicks on their fingers.  Chef Blaine Wetzel, however, was a mere 24 years old when he slid open the kitchen doors at The Willows Inn for the first time.  That was late 2010 and, thanks to his boy-next-door personality,  it was easy to wonder if he was even younger than his years.

The film industry has the Oscars, the music industry has the Grammy Awards. If you’re a chef or restaurateur, you want a James Beard Award medal around your neck.

Since 1990, the not-for-profit James Beard Foundation named after “the father of American cuisine,” has been honoring the outstanding names in the food and beverage industry.

There is no cash reward, but a win – or even a nomination – can substantially increase the buzz for business, according to foundation President Susan Ungaro.

Chef and restaurant winners are being announced on Monday, May 5 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City and Journalism, Books and Broadcast were announced Friday, May 2 at Gotham Hall in New York City.

We’ll be updating all the chef and restaurant nominees below as the winners are revealed. Explore the gallery above for pictures and color from last year’s awards.
Robert De Niro makes a cameo in the James Beard press room, celebrating Sirio Maccioni’s Lifetime Achievement award.

Best New Restaurant
Betony (New York City)
Carbone (New York City)
Coqueta (San Francisco, California)
Estela (New York City)
Winner: Pêche (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Outstanding Bar Program
Bar Agricole (San Francisco, California)
Winner: The Bar at the NoMad Hotel (New York City)
Clyde Common (Portland, Oregon)
Maison Premiere (Brooklyn, New York)
The Violet Hour (Chicago, Illinois)
Leo Robitschek and Will Guidara of The NoMad share some ham in the press room.

Outstanding Chef
Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern (New York City)
Isaac Becker, 112 Eatery (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Suzanne Goin, Lucques (Los Angeles, California)
David Kinch, Manresa (Los Gatos, California)
Winner: Nancy Silverton, Pizzeria Mozza (Los Angeles, California)
Marc Vetri, Vetri (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Outstanding Pastry Chef
Winner: Dominique Ansel, Dominique Ansel Bakery (New York City)
Dana Cree, Blackbird (Chicago, Illinois)
Belinda Leong, b. patisserie (San Francisco, California)
Dahlia Narvaez, Osteria Mozza (Los Angeles, California)
Christina Tosi, Momofuku (New York City)

Outstanding Restaurant
Hearth (New York City)
Highlands Bar and Grill (Birmingham, Alabama)
Winner: The Slanted Door (San Francisco, California)
Spiaggia (Chicago, Illinois)
wd~50 (New York City)

Outstanding Restaurateur
Winner: Barbara Lynch, Barbara Lynch Gruppo, Boston, Massachusetts (No. 9 Park, Menton, B&G Oysters, and others)
Donnie Madia, One Off Hospitality Group, Chicago, Illinois (Blackbird, Avec, The Publican, and others)
Cindy Pawlcyn, Napa Valley, California (Mustards Grill and Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen)
Caroline Styne, The Lucques Group, Los Angeles, California (Lucques, A.O.C., Tavern, and others)
Phil Suarez, Suarez Restaurant Group, New York City (ABC Kitchen, Jean-Georges, wd~50, and others)

Outstanding Service
Blue Hill (New York City)
Quince (San Francisco, California)
Winner: The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, California
Topolobampo, (Chicago, Illinois)
Vetri (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Outstanding Wine Program
A16 (San Francisco, California)
Bar Boulud, NYC
Winner: The Barn at Blackberry Farm (Walland, Tennessee)
FIG (Charleston, South Carolina)
The Little Nell (Aspen, Colorado)
Andy Chabot of Blackberry Farm

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional
Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, Delaware)
Ron Cooper, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal (Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico)
Winner: Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, New York)
Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace Distillery (Frankfort, Kentucky)
David Wondrich, spirits educator (Brooklyn, New York)
Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery

Rising Star Chef of the Year
Winner (tie): Jimmy Bannos Jr., The Purple Pig (Chicago, Illinois)
Katie Button, Cúrate (Asheville, North Carolina)
Jessica Largey, Manresa (Los Gatos, California)
David Posey, Blackbird (Chicago, Illinois)
Winner (tie): Blaine Wetzel, The Willows Inn on Lummi Island (Lummi Island, Washington)

Best Chef: Great Lakes
Winner: Dave Beran, Next (Chicago, Illinois)
Curtis Duffy, Grace (Chicago, Illinois)
Jonathon Sawyer, The Greenhouse Tavern (Cleveland, Ohio)
Paul Virant, Vie Restaurant (Western Springs, Illinois)
Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia (Chicago, Illinois)

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve (Alexandria, Virginia)
Spike Gjerde, Woodberry Kitchen (Baltimore, Maryland)
Brad Spence, Amis (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Winner: Vikram Sunderam, Rasika (Washington, D.C.)
Cindy Wolf, Charleston (Baltimore, Maryland)

Best Chef: Midwest
Winner: Justin Aprahamian, Sanford (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Paul Berglund, The Bachelor Farmer (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Gerard Craft, Niche (Clayton, Missouri)
Michelle Gayer, Salty Tart (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Kevin Nashan, Sidney Street Cafe (St. Louis, Missouri)
Lenny Russo, Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market (St. Paul, Minnesota)

Best Chef: Northeast
Winner: Jamie Bissonnette, Coppa (Boston, Massachusetts)
Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery + Cafe (Boston, Massachusetts)
Gerry Hayden, The North Fork Table & Inn (Southold, New York)
Matt Jennings, Farmstead Inc. (Providence, Rhode Island)
Michael Leviton, Lumière (Newton, Massachusetts)
Barry Maiden, Hungry Mother (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Best Chef: Northwest
Renee Erickson, The Whale Wins (Seattle, Washington)
Jason Franey, Canlis (Seattle, Washington)
Winner: Naomi Pomeroy, Beast (Portland, Oregon)
Ethan Stowell, Staple & Fancy (Seattle, Washington)
Cathy Whims, Nostrana (Portland, Oregon)
Naomi Pomeroy beasts it in the press room after her win.

Best Chef: NYC
Winner: April Bloomfield, The Spotted Pig
Dan Kluger, ABC Kitchen
Mark Ladner, Del Posto
Jonathan Waxman, Barbuto
Michael White, Marea
April Bloomfield wins Best Chef NYC.

Best Chef: South
Vishwesh Bhatt, Snackbar (Oxford, Mississippi)
Justin Devillier, La Petite Grocery (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Winner (tie): Ryan Prewitt, Pêche Seafood Grill (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Alon Shaya, Domenica (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Winner (tie): Sue Zemanick, Gautreau’s (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Best Chef: Southeast
Kathy Cary, Lilly’s (Louisville, Kentucky)
Winner: Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Downtown Diner (Raleigh, North Carolina)
Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia (Louisville, Kentucky)
Steven Satterfield, Miller Union (Atlanta, Georgia)
Tandy Wilson, City House (Nashville, Tennessee)

Best Chef: Southwest
Kevin Binkley, Binkley’s (Cave Creek, Arizona)
Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine (Austin, Texas)
Hugo Ortega, Hugo’s (Houston, Texas)
Winner: Chris Shepherd, Underbelly (Houston, Texas)
Justin Yu, Oxheart (Houston, Texas)

Best Chef: West
Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, State Bird Provisions (San Francisco, California)
Michael Cimarusti, Providence (Los Angeles, California)
Corey Lee, Benu (San Francisco, California)
Winner: Daniel Patterson, Coi (San Francisco, California)
Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Animal (Los Angeles, California)

Blaine Wetzel of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island, who was wooed to his job with photos of the region’s spot prawns and salmon, won the prestigious James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year on Monday night. In the first-ever tie for the coveted national award, Wetzel won the title along with Jimmy Bannos Jr. of The Purple Pig in Chicago.

Wetzel, 28, was also a finalist for the award last year. Past winners in the highflying category have included Bobby Flay and Marcus Samuelsson.

Wetzel had cooked at Noma in Copenhagen, named the world’s best restaurant in one well-known survey, before answering a Craigslist ad from then-owner Riley Stark about a chef’s opening at the inn. In 2010 he came to Lummi, where his intricate, carefully sourced, hyperlocal meals quickly made the dining room a national destination. (For background on the chef and the cuisine, see http://seati.ms/SuLZva.)

Wetzel, who attended the awards in New York City along with his parents, said that he was “humbled by the opportunity and challenges” the award brought with it, and that he couldn’t wait to celebrate with his staff and the community on Lummi.

Naomi Pomeroy of Beast in Portland was named Best Chef: Northwest, beating out Seattle’s Renee Erickson (the Whale Wins, the Walrus and the Carpenter etc.), Jason Franey (Canlis) and Ethan Stowell (Tavolata, Staple & Fancy etc.) and Portland’s Cathy Whims (Nostrana).

Lake Union restaurant Westward had been a finalist in the category of restaurant design for restaurants with 75 or fewer seats. The Huxley Wallace Collective and Graham Baba Architects lost out to Grace restaurant in Chicago.

Former Seattle pastry chef Dana Cree, now at Blackbird in Chicago, had been a finalist for best pastry chef in the nation; the award went to far better-known New York chef Dominique Ansel, creator of the Cronut.

At the book division of the awards ceremony on Friday, Vashon Island residents Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern won the “Focus on Health” category for “Gluten-Free Girl Every Day” (Houghton Mifflin,$29.99.)

Rebekah Denn is a regular contributor to The Seattle Times blog All You Can Eat. Reach her at rebekahdenn@gmail.com.

Whether you are looking for an exotic extended stay or a quick weekend getaway, you may want to consider exploring the road less traveled. Check out these unique vacation destination ideas for any budget.

Pictured above: First Harvest 2014 Early Announcement Chefs
(Left to right: Blaine Wetzel, Albert Adria, Joshua Skenes)

Albert Adria, named by TIME Magazine one of the 13 most-influential persons in the world of gastronomy in 2013, continues the international flavor that has established First Harvest at The Willows Inn on Lummi Island as one of the top dining events in the world.

First Harvest DinnerAdria began his career at the world-renowned restaurant elBulli and co-founded its menu-creating culinary laboratory, elBullitaller, in 1998 with his brother Ferran Adria and Oriol Castro. After 23 years, Albert Adria left in 2006 and since has accumulated numerous awards as a chef, director, and author involved in culinary events all around the globe.

He operates five establishments. Both his movie-themed tapas restaurant Tickets and upscale cocktail bar 41° Experience have earned Michelin Star ratings. The others: Pakta (Peruvian-Japanese fusion), Bodega 1900 (Catalan tapas), and Yauarcan (Mexican).

In San Francisco, one of America’s elite dining centers, Skenes carries strong award-winning credentials He traveled a path similar to Chef Wetzel; as each earned Best New Chef recognition by Food & Wine Magazine–Skenes in 2011, and Wetzel in 2012.

Skenes co-owns and serves as executive chef of Saison, a Michelin Two-Star establishment in San Francisco’s South of Market District (SOMA). Previously, after graduating from the French Culinary Institute in New York City, he worked at high-end dining places of Boston and in California locales.

Wetzel, co-owner of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island, plans to announce more marquee names to the First Harvest team when reservations open in May. His expanding reputation has enabled him to draw top-tier names that have made First Harvest one of the foremost culinary happenings around the world for three years in a row

Past chefs participating included Grant Achatz, Sean Brock, Kyle Connaughton, Dominque Crenn, Jason Fox, Christopher Kostow, John Shields, and Justin Yu from across the U.S., and internationally Kobe Desramaults from Belgium and Virgilio Martinez from Chile.

 

 

How does the team at Willows Inn on Lummi Island, WA infuse the essence of their natural surroundings into every meal? With the words “fished, foraged, and farmed” serving as their shared mantra, it comes quite easily. This rustic Washington gem is also home to a fresh face in the culinary world – chef Blaine Wetzel. Recently, we set out to Lummi Island for a chance to meet this rising talent in his home kitchen.

Wetzel is one of 2014’s James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year nominees and boasts an impressive resume, having worked at the Phoenician in Arizona and Las Vegas’ Wynn Hotel, by way of Scottsdale Culinary, according to Food & Wine. At the age of 28, he’s a finalist for one of the food world’s most prestigious awards.

Presented by S.Pellegrino, the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year Award is given to a chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to have a significant impact on the industry in years to come. Being nominated for the award is an important moment in a chef’s career. In 2013, Mission Chinese Food’s Danny Bowien was crowned king of the young culinary world, and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. In the last year, Bowien welcomed a baby boy and embarked on a new venture, a grab-and-go turned sit-down burrito joint, Mission Cantina in New York City.

This year’s finalists also include Jimmy Bannos, Jr., The Purple Pig, Chicago; Katie Button, Cúrate, Asheville, NC; Jessica Largey, Manresa, Los Gatos, CA; and David Posey, Blackbird, Chicago.

The 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards will be held on May 2 and 5 in New York. The Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards Dinner will take place on May 2, the Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on May 5.

For tickets and information, visit the James Beard Awards website.

Chef Blaine Wetzel no longer feels offended when his entire dining room empties out onto the front porch of the Willows Inn mid-meal to watch the sunset over the waters of Puget Sound. Instead, he’s trained his servers to plan for the inevitable exodus, as if it were another course in his tasting menu. The restaurant has just one seating per night, at 6:30 p.m., and diners call months in advance to experience Mr. Wetzel’s earthy cooking. Every ingredient featured on the menu is sourced within a few miles of the Willows Inn. The five-course meal is interspersed with about 12 one-bite snacks, such as a single grilled oyster with tequila and sage or a beautiful sliver of sockeye salmon smoked in-house. Mr. Wetzel himself often pops out of the kitchen to deliver such bites and talk about the local ingredients and the beautiful surroundings from which he has sourced them.

2579 W. Shore Dr., Lummi Island, Wash., +1-360-758-2620; willows-inn.com

Blaine Wetzel, a native of Olympia, Washington, has come a long way. After spending a year and a half in the Noma kitchen, he decided it was time to go back home to Washington and open a restaurant of his own. He checked out a bunch of locations and decided that an inn on a small island off the coast of Bellingham was the ideal spot. Not content with having his own kitchen, he identified a fertile plot of land on the island where he planted a garden to supply the restaurant with produce. Two years later we are seeing reviews like these: “brilliant restaurant, producing the type of magic that can be created only when a well-trained, creative chef finds the perfect spot from which to source the freshest and finest of ingredients”; “several of the vegetable dishes will stay with me forever”; and “his hot-smoked, Lummi Island reef net caught salmon might be the best thing I ate in 2012.”

After making a big splash in the semifinals of the food industry’s annual James Beard Foundation award competition, Seattle’s list of contenders was cut to a talented few when finalists were announced today.

Blaine Wetzel of Willows Inn on Lummi Island made the final five for Rising Star Chef, a national award.

Still in the running for Best Chef Northwest are Renee Erickson of The Whale Wins, Jason Franey of Canlis and Ethan Stowell of Staple & Fancy. Competing with them for the regional title are two Portland chefs – Naomi Pomeroy of Beast and Cathy Whims of Nostrana.

Chosen as one of five finalists for Outstanding Restaurant Design (75 seats or less) was Seattle’s Westward, which sits on the north shore of Lake Union and is part of Josh Henderson’s Huxley Wallace Collective.

The full list of finalists, or “nominees” as they are officially called, is on the Beard Foundation’s website. Winners will be announced May 5 at an awards ceremony at New York City’s Lincoln Center.

Chef Blaine Wetzel of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Lummi Island, WA is semifinalist for the Rising Star Chef of the Year award from the James Beard Foundation.

They’re here! This morning we announced the semifinalists for our 2014 Restaurant and Chef Award categories, from Outstanding Restaurant to Rising Star Chef of the Year. Our announcement took place in Orlando, one of Florida’s burgeoning culinary hubs. We’d like to thank Visit Orlando for making the event possible.

Scroll down to see if your favorite restaurant or chef is in the running. (For a refresher on how these names were selected, read this.) And don’t forget: we’ll announce the final Restaurant and Chef Award nominations, as well as the nominations for our Book, Journalism, Broadcast, and Restaurant Design Awards, at the Publican in Chicago on Tuesday, March 18.

The 2014 James Beard Awards will be held in New York City on May 2 and 5.

The 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists

Best New Restaurant
The 404 Kitchen, Nashville
Aragona, Seattle
Ardent, Milwaukee
Asta, Boston
Bar Sajor, Seattle
Betony, NYC
Brindille, Chicago
Carbone, NYC
Casa Rubia, Dallas
The Cavalier, San Francisco
Chi Spacca, Los Angeles
Connie and Ted’s, West Hollywood, CA
Coqueta, San Francisco
The Elm, Brooklyn, NY
Estela, NYC
Fish & Game, Hudson, NY
Izanami at Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe
Laurel, Philadelphia
MilkWood, Louisville, KY
MW, Honolulu
Nico Osteria, Chicago
Pêche, New Orleans
Pinewood Social, Nashville
Ribelle, Brookline, MA
Rose’s Luxury, Washington, D.C.
Serpico, Philadelphia
Tosca Cafe, San Francisco
Trois Mec, Los Angeles
Uncle Boons, NYC
Virtù, Scottsdale, AZ

Outstanding Bar Program
Anvil Bar & Refuge, Houston
Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, New Orleans
Bar Agricole, San Francisco
The Bar at the NoMad Hotel, NYC
The Broken Shaker, Miami Beach, FL
Butcher and the Rye, Pittsburgh
Canon, Seattle
Clyde Common, Portland, OR
Columbia Room inside the Passenger, Washington, D.C.
Cure, New Orleans
The Dead Rabbit, NYC
The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., Philadelphia
Hard Water, San Francisco
The Hawthorne, Boston
Kimball House, Decatur, GA
Maison Premiere, Brooklyn, NY
Marvel Bar, Minneapolis
The Porter Beer Bar, Atlanta
Rivera, Los Angeles
Rogue 24, Washington, D.C.
Taste, St. Louis
Trick Dog, San Francisco
The Varnish, Los Angeles
The Violet Hour, Chicago
Williams & Graham, Denver

Outstanding Chef
Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern, NYC
Isaac Becker, 112 Eatery, Minneapolis
Sean Brock, McCrady’s, Charleston, SC
Andrew Carmellini, Locanda Verde, NYC
Gary Danko, Restaurant Gary Danko, San Francisco
Suzanne Goin, Lucques, West Hollywood, CA
Gabrielle Hamilton, Prune, NYC
David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, CA
Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans
Carrie Nahabedian, Naha, Chicago
Nancy Oakes, Boulevard, San Francisco
Maricel Presilla, Cucharamama, Hoboken, NJ
Anne Quatrano, Bacchanalia, Atlanta
Michael Schwartz, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Miami
Julian Serrano, Picasso at Bellagio, Las Vegas
Nancy Silverton, Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles
Ana Sortun, Oleana, Cambridge, MA
John Sundstrom, Lark, Seattle
Michael Tusk, Quince, San Francisco
Marc Vetri, Vetri, Philadelphia

Outstanding Pastry Chef
Dominique Ansel, Dominique Ansel Bakery, NYC
Melissa Chou, Aziza, San Francisco
Dana Cree, Blackbird, Chicago
Steve Horton, Rustica Bakery, Minneapolis
Kate Jacoby, Vedge, Philadelphia
Michelle Karr-Ueoka, MW, Honolulu
Maura Kilpatrick, Oleana, Cambridge, MA
Phoebe Lawless, Scratch, Durham, NC
Belinda Leong, b. patisserie, San Francisco
Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, Baked, Brooklyn, NY
Yasmin Lozada-Hissom, Spuntino, Denver
Tiffany MacIsaac, Birch & Barley, Washington, D.C.
Dolester Miles, Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham, AL
Dahlia Narvaez, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles
Neil Robertson, Crumble & Flake, Seattle
Philip Speer, Uchi, Austin and Houston
Jonathan Stevens and Cheryl Maffei, Hungry Ghost, Northampton, MA
Christina Tosi, Momofuku, NYC
Nick Wesemann, The American Restaurant, Kansas City, MO
Jennifer Yee, Lafayette, NYC

Outstanding Restaurant
Bern’s Steak House, Tampa, FL
Canlis, Seattle
The Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro, NC
Fore Street, Portland, ME
Foreign Cinema, San Francisco
Fork, Philadelphia
Greens, San Francisco
Hamersley’s Bistro, Boston
Hearth, NYC
Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham, AL
Jaleo, Washington, D.C.
Mélisse, Santa Monica, CA
Pearl Oyster Bar, NYC
Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix
Primo, Rockland, ME
The Slanted Door, San Francisco
Spiaggia, Chicago
Terra, St. Helena, CA
Vidalia, Washington, D.C.
wd~50, NYC

Outstanding Restaurateur
Ashok Bajaj, Knightsbridge Restaurant Group, Washington, D.C. (The Bombay Club, The Oval Room, Rasika, and others)
Giorgios Bakatsias, Giorgios Hospitality Group, Durham, NC (Kipos, Parizäde, Village Burgers, and others)
Frank Bonanno, Bonanno Concepts, Denver (Mizuna, Osteria Marco, Bones, and others)
JoAnn Clevenger, Upperline, New Orleans
George Formaro, Des Moines, IA (Centro, Django, South Union Bread Café, and others)
Sam Fox, Fox Restaurant Concepts, Phoenix (Olive & Ivy, True Food, Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend, and others)
Ford Fry, Ford Fry Restaurant Company, Atlanta (The Optimist, JCT Kitchen, No. 246, and others)
Garrett Harker, Boston (Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, The Hawthorne, and others)
Mike Klank and Eddie Hernandez, Taqueria del Sol, Atlanta
Barbara Lynch, Barbara Lynch Gruppo, Boston (No. 9 Park, Menton, B&G Oysters, and others)
Donnie Madia, One Off Hospitality Group, Chicago (Blackbird, Avec, The Publican, and others)
Larry Mindel, Poggio and Copita, Sausalito, CA
Cindy Pawlcyn, Napa Valley, CA (Mustards Grill and Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen)
Nick Pihakis, Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, Birmingham, AL
Stephen Starr, Starr Restaurants, Philadelphia (The Dandelion, Talula’s Garden, Serpico, and others)
Caroline Styne, West Hollywood, CA (Lucques, A.O.C., Tavern, and others)
Phil Suarez, Suarez Restaurant Group, NYC (ABC Kitchen, Jean-Georges, wd~50, and others)
Andrew Tarlow, NYC (Diner, Marlow & Sons, Reynard, and others)
Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, Philadelphia (Little Nonna’s, Jamonera, Barbuzzo, and others)
Rick and Ann Yoder, Wild Ginger, Seattle

Outstanding Service
Abacus, Dallas
Bacchanalia, Atlanta
Blue Hill, NYC
Brigtsen’s, New Orleans
Cafe Juanita, Kirkland, WA
L’Espalier, Boston
Komi, Washington, D.C.
L2O, Chicago
Lucques, West Hollywood, CA
Mansion Restaurant at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas
Marcel’s, Washington, D.C.
McCrady’s, Charleston, SC
One Flew South, Atlanta
Persimmon, Bristol, RI
Providence, Los Angeles
Quince, San Francisco
Restaurant Alma, Minneapolis
The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA
Topolobampo, Chicago
Vetri, Philadelphia

Outstanding Wine Program
5 & 10, Athens, GA
A16, San Francisco
Addison at the Grand Del Mar, San Diego
Archie’s Waeside, Le Mars, IA
Bar Boulud, NYC
The Barn at Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN
Café on the Green at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, Irving, TX
CityZen at Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C.
FIG, Charleston, SC
The Grill Room at Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans
The Little Nell, Aspen, CO
Marcel’s, Washington, D.C.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar, NYC
Picasso at Bellagio, Las Vegas
Press, St. Helena, CA
Rouge Tomate, NYC
Sepia, Chicago
Spago, Beverly Hills, CA
Troquet, Boston
Yono’s Restaurant, Albany, NY

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional
Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
Ron Cooper, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, Ranchos de Taos, NM
Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield, Vanberg & DeWulf, Cooperstown, NY
Mike Floyd, Nick Floyd, and Simon Floyd, Three Floyds Brewing, Munster, IN
Ted Lemon, Littorai Wines, Sebastopol, CA
Steve Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wine, Napa, CA
Stephen McCarthy, Clear Creek Distillery, Portland, OR
Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
Luca Paschina, Barboursville Vineyards, Barboursville, VA
David Perkins, High West Distillery & Saloon, Park City, UT
Tom Peters, Monk’s Cafe, Philadelphia
Joey Redner, Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL
Jörg Rupf, St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA
Eric Seed, Haus Alpenz, Edina, MN
Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME
Ann Tuennerman, Tales of the Cocktail, New Orleans
Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, KY
Burt Williams, founder of Williams Selyem Winery, Healdsburg, CA
David Wondrich, spirits educator, Brooklyn, NY
Stephen M. Wood, Farnum Hill Cider, Lebanon, NH

Rising Star Chef of the Year
Jimmy Bannos Jr., The Purple Pig, Chicago
Katie Button, Cúrate, Asheville, NC
Daniel Delaney, Delaney Barbecue, Brooklyn, NY
Chris Kajioka, Vintage Cave, Honolulu
Christopher Kearse, Will, Philadelphia
Matthew Kirkley, L2O, Chicago
Casey Lane, Tasting Kitchen, Venice, CA
Jessica Largey, Manresa, Los Gatos
Andrew Le, The Pig and the Lady, Honolulu
Rick Lewis, Quincy Street Bistro, St. Louis
Malcolm Livingston II, wd~50, NYC
Tim Maslow, Ribelle, Brookline, MA
Matt McNamara and Teague Moriarty, Sons & Daughters, San Francisco
Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Ripple, Washington, D.C.
Ben Nerenhausen, Mistral, Princeton, NJ
Jorel Pierce, Euclid Hall, Denver
David Posey, Blackbird, Chicago
Ben Puchowitz, CHeU Noodle Bar, Philadelphia
Eduardo Ruiz, Corazón y Miel, Bell, CA
Cara Stadler, Tao Yuan, Brunswick, ME
Eli Sussman, Mile End, Brooklyn, NY
Ari Taymor, Alma, Los Angeles
Michael Toscano, Perla, NYC
Chris Weber, The Herbfarm, Woodinville, WA
Blaine Wetzel, The Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Lummi Island, WA

Best Chef: Great Lakes
Myles Anton, Trattoria Stella, Traverse City, MI
Dave Beran, Next, Chicago
Neal Brown, The Libertine Liquor Bar, Indianapolis
Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo, Fat Rice, Chicago
Curtis Duffy, Grace, Chicago
Paul Fehribach, Big Jones, Chicago
Phillip Foss, EL Ideas, Chicago
Greg Hardesty, Recess, Indianapolis
Douglas Katz, Fire Food & Drink, Cleveland
Anne Kearney, Rue Dumaine, Dayton, OH
Ryan McCaskey, Acadia, Chicago
Regina Mehallick, R Bistro, Indianapolis
Brian Polcyn, Forest Grill, Birmingham, MI
Iliana Regan, Elizabeth, Chicago
Jonathon Sawyer, The Greenhouse Tavern, Cleveland
David Tallent, Restaurant Tallent, Bloomington, IN
Jason Vincent, Nightwood, Chicago
Paul Virant, Vie Restaurant, Western Springs, IL
Erling Wu-Bower, Nico Osteria, Chicago
Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia, Chicago

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
Scott Anderson, Elements, Princeton, NJ
Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA
Joey Baldino, Zeppoli, Collingswood, NJ
Pierre Calmels, Bibou, Philadelphia
Anthony Chittum, Iron Gate, Washington, D.C.
Joe Cicala, Le Virtù, Philadelphia
Spike Gjerde, Woodberry Kitchen, Baltimore
Lee Gregory, The Roosevelt, Richmond, VA
Haidar Karoum, Proof, Washington, D.C.
Tarver King, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, Lovettsville, VA
Rich Landau, Vedge, Philadelphia
Lucas Manteca, The Red Store, Cape May Point, NJ
Cedric Maupillier, Mintwood Place, Washington, D.C.
Justin Severino, Cure, Pittsburgh
Bryan Sikora, La Fia, Wilmington, DE
Brad Spence, Amis, Philadelphia
Lee Styer, Fond, Philadelphia
Vikram Sunderam, Rasika, Washington, D.C.
Angelo Vangelopoulos, The Ivy Inn Restaurant, Charlottesville, VA
Cindy Wolf, Charleston, Baltimore

Best Chef: Midwest
Justin Aprahamian, Sanford, Milwaukee
Paul Berglund, The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis
Steven Brown, Tilia, Minneapolis
Clayton Chapman, The Grey Plume, Omaha, NE
Gerard Craft, Niche, Clayton, MO
Doug Flicker, Piccolo, Minneapolis
Josh Galliano, The Libertine, Clayton, MO
Michelle Gayer, Salty Tart, Minneapolis
Ted Habiger, Room 39, Kansas City, MO
Howard Hanna, The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, Kansas City, MO
Jamie Malone, Sea Change, Minneapolis
Kevin Nashan, Sidney Street Cafe, St. Louis
Ryan Nitschke and Nick Weinhandl, HoDo Restaurant at the Hotel Donaldson, Fargo, ND
Ben Poremba, Elaia, St. Louis
Lenny Russo, Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market, St. Paul, MN
Phil Shires, Cafe di Scala, Des Moines, IA
David Swanson, Braise, Milwaukee
Jim Webster, Wild Rice, Bayfield, WI
Kevin Willmann, Farmhaus, St. Louis
Sean Wilson, Proof, Des Moines, IA

Best Chef: Northeast
Tyler Anderson, Millwright’s, Simsbury, CT
Jamie Bissonnette, Coppa, Boston
Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery + Cafe, Boston
Eric Gabrynowicz, Restaurant North, Armonk, NY
Wesley Genovart, SoLo Farm & Table, South Londonderry, VT
Gerry Hayden, The North Fork Table & Inn, Southold, NY
Evan Hennessey, Stages at One Washington, Dover, NH
Brian Hill, Francine Bistro, Camden, ME
Dano Hutnik, Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca, Lodi, NY
Matt Jennings, Farmstead Inc., Providence, RI
Michael Leviton, Lumière, Newton, MA
Barry Maiden, Hungry Mother, Cambridge, MA
Evan Mallett, Black Trumpet Bistro, Portsmouth, NH
Masa Miyake, Miyake, Portland, ME
Ravin Nakjaroen, Long Grain, Camden, ME
Guy Reuge, Mirabelle, Stony Brook, NY
Champe Speidel, Persimmon, Bristol, RI
Benjamin Sukle, Birch, Providence, RI
Joel Viehland, Community Table, Washington, CT
Eric Warnstedt, Hen of the Wood, Burlington and Waterbury, VT

Best Chef: Northwest
Chris Ainsworth, Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen, Walla Walla, WA
Andy Blanton, Cafe Kandahar, Whitefish, MT
Greg Denton & Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, Ox, Portland, OR
Eric Donnelly, RockCreek, Seattle
Renee Erickson, The Whale Wins, Seattle
Jason Franey, Canlis, Seattle
James Honaker, Bistro Enzo, Billings, MT
Joe Kim, 5 Fusion and Sushi Bar, Bend, OR
Richard Langston, Café Vicino, Boise, ID
Nathan Lockwood, Altura, Seattle
Brendan McGill, Hitchcock, Bainbridge Island, WA
Trent Pierce, Roe, Portland, OR
Naomi Pomeroy, Beast, Portland, OR
Dustin Ronspies, Art of the Table, Seattle
Adam Sappington, The Country Cat, Portland, OR
Ethan Stowell, Staple & Fancy, Seattle
Jason Stratton, Spinasse, Seattle
Cathy Whims, Nostrana, Portland, OR
Justin Woodward, Castagna, Portland, OR
Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, Joule, Seattle

Best Chef: NYC
Jonathan Benno, Lincoln Ristorante
Fredrik Berselius, Aska
April Bloomfield, The Spotted Pig
Paul Carmichael, Má Pêche
Amanda Cohen, Dirt Candy
Dan Kluger, ABC Kitchen
Mark Ladner, Del Posto
Paul Liebrandt, The Elm
Anita Lo, Annisa
Carlo Mirarchi, Roberta’s
Seamus Mullen, Tertulia
Joe Ng, RedFarm
Alex Raij and Eder Montero, Txikito
César Ramirez, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare
Masato Shimizu, 15 East
Justin Smillie, Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria
Alex Stupak, Empellón Cocina
Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, Carbone
Jonathan Waxman, Barbuto
Michael White, Marea

Best Chef: South
Greg Baker, The Refinery, Tampa, FL
Vishwesh Bhatt, Snackbar, Oxford, MS
Justin Devillier, La Petite Grocery, New Orleans
Derek Emerson, Walker’s Drive-In, Jackson, MS
José Enrique, José Enrique, San Juan, PR
Justin Girouard, The French Press, Lafayette, LA
Chad Johnson, SideBern’s, Tampa, FL
Matthew McClure, The Hive, Bentonville, AR
Rob McDaniel, SpringHouse, Alexander City, AL
Jose Mendin, Pubbelly, Miami Beach, FL
James and Julie Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig, Winter Park, FL
Steve Phelps, Indigenous, Sarasota, FL
Ryan Prewitt, Pêche Seafood Grill, New Orleans
Hari Pulapaka, Cress, DeLand, FL
Horacio Rivadero, The District Miami
Henry Salgado, Spanish River Grill, New Smyrna Beach, FL
Alon Shaya, Domenica, New Orleans
Michael Stoltzfus, Coquette, New Orleans
Isaac Toups, Toups’ Meatery, New Orleans
Sue Zemanick, Gautreau’s, New Orleans

Best Chef: Southeast
Billy Allin, Cakes & Ale, Decatur, GA
Jeremiah Bacon, The Macintosh, Charleston, SC
Colin Bedford, The Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro, NC
Kathy Cary, Lilly’s, Louisville, KY
Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Downtown Diner, Raleigh, NC
Scott Crawford, Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary, NC
Todd Ginsberg, The General Muir, Atlanta
Damian Heath, Lot 12 Public House, Berkeley Springs, WV
Vivian Howard, Chef & the Farmer, Kinston, NC
Scott Howell, Nana’s, Durham, NC
Meherwan Irani, Chai Pani, Asheville, NC
Kevin Johnson, The Grocery, Charleston, SC
Josh Keeler, Two Boroughs Larder, Charleston, SC
Matt Kelly, Mateo, Durham, NC
Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia, Louisville, KY
Daniel Lindley, St John’s Restaurant, Chattanooga, TN
Steven Satterfield, Miller Union, Atlanta
Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Memphis
Aaron Vandemark, Panciuto, Hillsborough, NC
Tandy Wilson, City House, Nashville

Best Chef: Southwest
Charleen Badman, FnB, Scottsdale, AZ
Kevin Binkley, Binkley’s, Cave Creek, AZ
Bowman Brown, Forage, Salt Lake City
David Bull, Congress, Austin
James Campbell Caruso, La Boca, Santa Fe
Rob Connoley, The Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM
Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine, Austin
Jennifer James, Jennifer James 101, Albuquerque, NM
Matt McCallister, FT33, Dallas
Frederick Muller, El Meze, Taos, NM
Hugo Ortega, Hugo’s, Houston
Jeff Osaka, Twelve, Denver
Jonathan Perno, La Merienda at Los Poblanos Inn, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM
Martín Rios, Restaurant Martín, Santa Fe
Silvana Salcido, Barrio Café, Phoenix
Alex Seidel, Fruition, Denver
Chris Shepherd, Underbelly, Houston
John Tesar, Spoon Bar & Kitchen, Dallas
David Uygur, Lucia, Dallas
Justin Yu, Oxheart, Houston

Best Chef: West
Matthew Accarrino, SPQR, San Francisco
Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
Josef Centeno, Bäco Mercat, Los Angeles
Michael Chiarello, Bottega, Yountville, CA
Michael Cimarusti, Providence, Los Angeles
Justin Cogley, Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel, Carmel, CA
Mitsuo Endo, Aburiya Raku, Las Vegas
Tyler Florence, Wayfare Tavern, San Francisco
Ed Kenney, Town, Honolulu
Mourad Lahlou, Aziza, San Francisco
Corey Lee, Benu, San Francisco
Ludo Lefebvre, Trois Mec, Los Angeles
David LeFevre, MB Post, Manhattan Beach, CA
Niki Nakayama, n/naka, Los Angeles
Daniel Patterson, Coi, San Francisco
John Rivera Sedlar, Rivera, Los Angeles
Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Animal, Los Angeles
Joshua Skenes, Saison, San Francisco
James Syhabout, Commis, Oakland, CA
Ricardo Zarate, Picca, Los Angeles

America’s Best Hotel Restaurants.

It’s lucky for weary (and hungry) travelers that some of the top restaurants in the country are housed in hotels — from a temple of gastronomy (and veritable Picasso museum) in the Bellagio in Las Vegas to The Inn at Little Washington, a culinary destination in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. GAYOT has narrowed down the nation’s best options for hotel dining to present to you the top 10 U.S. hotel restaurants in alphabetical order.

Food experts have predicted foraging will be a major 2014 food trend. Naturally, restaurants that serve up dishes accented by wild local ingredients have been getting plenty of attention. Despite the spotlight on foraged foods, the practice of finding wild mushrooms, lettuces, herbs and other fare is shrouded in mystery for some chefs. But these foragers were waking up at the crack of dawn to find truly local menu items long before “forage” became a buzzword.

From stays in Texas to Tanzania, these hotels make you feel like a local.

Staying in a hotel with ties to a farm no longer has to be the design equivalent of rustic (e.g., flowers in a Mason jar). Every place on our list offers amazing landscapes, delicious local food, has a farm on site or has strong connections to local farms and is in some way committed to ecological sustainability. You’ll want to go to all of them!

Willows Inn Lummi Island, Washington

In 2011, the 103-year-old Willows Inn on Lummi Island (an isle 75 miles north of Seattle) was redesigned. New accommodations, including the stunning waterfront Beach House, were added. But the real reason people visit is the menu. Chef Blaine Wetzel (formerly of Noma) has created a prix fixe menu that focuses on the fished, farmed and foraged. All food comes from no more than 30 miles away.

2014 Restaurants of the Year
Source: January 2014 Hideaway Report

United States

THE WILLOWS INN, Lummi Island, Washington — {Formal} Inspired by an apprenticeship at Noma in Copenhagen, Blaine Wetzel has created a temple to all things local and seasonal in his native Washington. Chef Wetzel and his team forage daily for wild plants on the remote and unspoiled island, and procure meat and fish from within a tight radius. Kale never tasted so delicious as when Wetzel has crisped it and topped it with rye crumbs and black truffle. A dish of glazed beets with lingonberries and sorrel was extraordinary. And a pink crescent of salmon smoked for eight hours over green alder could almost have been candy.

FARMERS FISHERS BAKERS, Washington, D.C. — {Informal} Part of the Washington Harbour complex on the Georgetown waterfront, this distinctive restaurant is owned by the North Dakota Farmers Union. The menu reflects a dedication to local products, and the interior reflects an artisanal aesthetic: The chairs are handmade, and the impressive wood ceiling was installed by craftsmen from Canada. For lunch, I tried the rich butternut squash soup and continued with the chicken salad club. At dinner, look for hearty fare such as steak frites with farmer’s whiskey sauce.

International

LA COLOMBE, Constantia Uitsig, South Africa — {Formal} Tucked into a cottage on the Constantia Uitsig wine estate in southern Cape Town, this restaurant deservedly wins accolades from every quarter. Intimate and charming, it offers a multicourse menu of exceptionally inventive cuisine. Chef Scot Kirton combines contemporary French techniques with Asian influences. His ingredients are impeccably fresh and locally sourced where possible. We relished dishes 
such as Champagne-poached oysters, ostrich tataki and tartare, and quail and langoustines in a delicately spiced sauce. Be prepared to linger.

OLIVIER ARLOT, Montbazon, Loire Valley, France — {Informal} Chef Olivier Arlot’s new restaurant displays a relaxed style, with limestone floors and white-painted beams, and the service is akin to that of a chic auberge. Our outstanding meal included sautéed baby squid in a reduction of Chinon wine, grilled sea bream in curried tomato butter with a clafoutis (custard) of Provençale vegetables, and roast guinea hen with a gratin of spinach and Swiss chard. We also enjoyed a fine selection of Loire Valley chèvres, and concluded with shortbread topped with sautéed mirabelle plums and bergamot ice cream.

 

ABOUT ANDREW HARPER

Free of advertising since its inception in June 1979, Hideaway Report is a private monthly publication for sophisticated travelers. The selection of hotels, resorts and restaurants for inclusion in this publication is made on a completely independent basis, with Andrew Harper, LLC paying full rate for all meals, lodging and related travel expenses. Andrew Harper and his editors travel incognito to write candid and unbiased travel reviews for a subscription service, which provides personalized travel-planning assistance, bespoke tours and valuable travel privileges to its subscribers. For questions regarding this article please contact aharper@andrewharper.com.

Noma’s René Redzepi, British star chef Mark Hix and Simon Rogan, soon to open the new restaurant at Claridge’s, pick the food destinations they’re excited about for 2014.

RENÉ REDZEPI
Chef and co-owner of Noma in Copenhagen, awarded best restaurant in the world three years in a row

Seattle, USA
Take a boat to a place called Lummi Island. There’s a chef there called Blaine Wetzel, who works with local native Americans. If he feeds the fire right, that place could become one of the most influential restaurants in the world. willows-inn.com

Sao Paulo, Brazil
Chef Alex Atala is changing things in Latin America. For decades in Brazil, it was bad variations of Spanish/Italian food. At his restaurant, DOM, Atala is incorporating Amazon-native dishes into the everyday. His excursions to the Amazon last seven, eight, nine days. The roots, the plants, the seeds, the flowers — each tastes different. domrestaurante.com.br

Kyoto, Japan
If you want a mind-blowing food experience (and old shrines to boot), Kyoto’s the place. You go into a little place where they fry pork chops — and they’re the best pork chop ever. In kaiseki meals, you see where fine dining’s tasting menus originated: you can sit for hours and eat things you’ve never seen, but some dishes are the same as they’ve been for the past 1,000 years. jnto.go.jp

MARK HIX
Owner of the UK’s ever-popular Hix restaurants

Nashville, USA
I’ve not been but I hear that Nashville has a strong emerging food scene. Sean Brock of Husk has one of his restaurants there and people tell me of other good bars and restaurants they have visited. husknashville.com

San Francisco, USA
San Francisco is always interesting and the Mission District seems to open a new place every week — an area that has been under gentrification for a good few years.

SIMON ROGAN
Newly appointed Head Chef at Claridge’s and owner of five restaurants throughout the UK

Victoria, Australia
Dan Hunter has confirmed he will open his own restaurant ‘with rooms’, Brae, in Birregurra, Victoria following his success as head chef at Dunkeld’s The Royal Mail Hotel. Dan has a very similar ethos to us. This purpose-built restaurant with farm is a very exciting opening in 2014. braerestaurant.com

Barcelona, Spain
Ferran Adria’s El Bulli Foundation opens in 2014 and is going to be a place where chefs can create, discuss and interact with other researchers like journalists, scientists and philosophers. Everyone is waiting to see what will happen next and it will be interesting to see what they come up with. elbulli.com

Manhattan, New York
One of Brooklyn’s best restaurants is opening in Manhattan. Brooklyn Fare, a small (18-seat) counter-style restaurant and the borough’s only three-star Michelin rated one, will open a second location on West 39th Street between Ninth and Tenth avenues. brooklynfare.com

What’s cooking for the coming year? Comfort food and classic cookware are making big comebacks. Humble vegetables such as turnips are not just turning up at haute-starred restaurants — they’re also taking root on (gasp!) the dessert menus.

These forecasts on fare spiced up the Culinary Institute of America’s annual Worlds of Flavor conference held in California’s Napa Valley in mid-November.

Cuisine

“What’s near and what’s far is constantly shifting,” says Francis Lam, a judge on Top Chef Masters. Here are picks for top cuisines for 2014 — and notable restaurants around the world to experience them. The predictions come from The Culinary Institute of America’s recent Worlds of Flavor conference in California’s Napa Valley.

Peruvian cuisine combines ancient ingredients of the Incas with foods brought by Spanish conquistadors. “Peru offers tremendous diversity. Dishes reflect the sea, the Amazon jungle and the Andes mountains,” explains Virgilio Martinez, chef/owner of Central Restaurante in Lima, Peru and Lima in London. “The country has thousands of varieties of potatoes and nearly equal variety of corn and quinoa.” He showcases summit-to-sea abundance in causa, a potato dumpling stuffed with shrimp and avocado.

Encompassing 7,000 islands, the Philippines maintain culinary traditions brought by Malay, Spanish, Chinese and American explorers and settlers. With the archipelago headlining on the news following Typhoon Haiyan, more chefs and foodies are focusing on boldly-spiced Filipino cuisine. The national dish is adobo, chicken or pork braised in garlic, oil, vinegar and soy sauce. The Filipino answer to spring rolls, lumpia, are commonly stuffed with pork and seafood. “It touches on all the flavor components,” notes Chef King Phojanakong of Kuma Inn and Umi Nom in New York City.

Showcasing pure, clean flavors and über-local foraged ingredients, the New Nordic Cuisine continues to enthrall diners and influence restaurateurs from Sydney to Singapore, including Blaine Wetzel of Willows Inn on Lummi Island near Seattle. Wetzel cites “backdoor inspiration” for his menu, “Letting the season speak to me and what I cook that day. We’re the only place in the world with reef netting for salmon. We have kelp coated with herring roe plus berries, grasses, mushrooms. Sometimes we can make a dish just one week a year.”

“Turkey holds thousands of years of culture and each civilization left its culinary trace,” remarks Mehmet Gürs, chef/owner of 10 restaurants in Istanbul including Mikla. The country melds cooking styles of Central Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the Balkans. Gürs works with anthropologists to document heritage dishes such as manti, a dumpling from Mongolia stuffed with lamb and served with house-smoked yogurt sauce from bufala milk. “But we don’t want to be a museum restaurant — we want to bring these recipes to life.”

We’ll call it Next-Mex — the modern metamorphosis of Mexican cuisine. “Mexican food incorporates new ingredients all the time. We need to keep authenticity but include new ideas,” says Enrique Olvera, chef/owner of Pujol in Mexico City. His dishes build from indigenous edibles Mexico bestowed to the world — corn, squash, tomatoes, chilis and chocolate. But Olvera catapults tradition into the 21st century. He coats smoked baby corn with coffee mayonnaise (plus light dusting of ground Oaxacan flying ants) and refines tacos by using tender suckling lamb, avocado cream and poblano pepper tortillas. News flash! Olvera plans to open a restaurant in New York City in Spring 2014.

Trends

According to presentations made by 60 of the world’s best chefs, top food trends include:

Comfort food gets classy: Chefs are taking down-home recipes upscale. Part of a chefs’ collective called the Young Turks, Isaac McHale used crowd-funding to launch The Clove Club in East London. A menu fave: the buttermilk-fried chicken seasoned with fragrant pine salt.

Fermentation: The same metabolic process that creates bread, cheese, pickles and wine is now transforming veggies such as turnips and string beans. “We get layers of flavor through fermentation,” explains Cortney Burns, co-chef at Bar Tartine in San Francisco, where dishes often incorporate root vegetables fermented in beer mash. “The process is not just delicious, it’s healthy.”

Root-to-leaf cooking: In the eco-embrace of waste-not, want-not, chefs strive to consume every part of a plant. At Pope Joan in Melbourne, Australia, chef/co-owner Matt Wilkinson whizzes carrot tops into a pesto that’s tossed with carrots and served on smoked yogurt (another trend to watch).

More quinoa: Just when you’ve gotten keen on these grain-like seeds in your local supermarket — expect to see a rainbow of different varieties. More than 120 species of quinoa grow in the crop’s native Andes. Chefs also are preparing quinoa in different ways. Stuart Brioza of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco first cooks it, then fries it to add toasty crunch to beef tartare.

Pressure cookers: A favorite of your grandmothers, this venerable vessel can cook foods faster and enhance caramelization. Fans include Maxime Bilet, co-author of the award-winning Modernist Cuisine book series. “The pressure cooker acts like a still, concentrating flavors back into sauces. Otherwise, all the flavors you smell are gone.” Bilet loves it for pot-au-feu.

Vegetables for dessert: The early allure of vegetables balances sweetness in savory desserts such as steam-roasted Jerusalem artichokes tossed in licorice syrup and served alongside coconut custard and pineapple sorbet. “The dish recalls my childhood in Samoa,” says Michael Meredith, chef/owner of Merediths in Auckland, New Zealand.

Japan’s rising star: With sushi as ubiquitous as burgers, Americans continue to look east for culinary inspiration. “Chefs are using Japanese ingredients with French techniques to create new dishes,” notes Masayasu Yonemura of Restaurant Yonemura in Kyoto. He adapts tofu for sliders topped with sautéed foie gras and truffle sauce.

Food and Wine Chefs’ Favorite Dishes of 2013. Some of the country’s best chefs reveal their favorite bites of the year.

“The guests dining at Noma should feel a sensation of time and place in their very bones,” René Redzepi says in the introduction to to his 2010 book on Nordic cuisine. Just a decade ago, when Noma opened on Copenhagen’s waterfront, the young chef committed to a bold new brand of Nordic cooking that was wildly innovative yet deeply rooted in the seasons and the natural environment, using ingredients from Scandinavia.

Today, with its Michelin stars and place at the top of Restaurant Magazine’s list of the world’s best restaurants, it’s hard to overstate the impact of Noma: chefs from Chicago to Beijing offer foraging tours; ingredients like hay ash, green strawberries, spruce shoots, and fermented this and that are suddenly part of the fine-dining vernacular; and riding on Noma’s buzz, Copenhagen has become an against-all-odds culinary capital drawing young chefs and foodies from around the world.

“I never imagined that one of the biggest joys of running this place would come from seeing people leave,” master-mentor Redzepi wrote earlier over e-mail, as he crisscrosses the globe promoting A Work in Progress, a new set of three books documenting a year in the life of the restaurant. Next week, he begins a book tour through seven North American cities, including a talk with Padma Lakshmi at New York’s 92nd Street Y on November 13. “As much as I get attached, it would be a real letdown if they didn’t at some point want to do their own thing. I’ve seen many times where a split can be treated like a bad divorce, since such a strong relationship develops with your sous-chefs. But it really should be like your best friend moving out of the shared apartment: the friendship continues.”

By the time Spain’s influential El Bulli (where Redzepi himself once worked) closed in 2011, Noma had become a finishing school of sorts for already accomplished chefs, taking up the mantle of Ferran Adrià’s educational kitchen. “They are forced out of their comfort zones, and by the time they leave, their minds work in a completely different way,” explains Matt Orlando, a former Noma chef, now heading up Amass in Copenhagen. “Noma produces chefs who have a different way of approaching cooking and how a restaurant should function.” At the core is Noma’s famed Saturday Night Projects, staff-only tastings at which the chefs create and get feedback on new dishes—gatherings meant to spark creativity and sharpen chefs’ sensibilities. “Just to work with René on a daily basis—everyone had all these things like liquid nitrogen, a hand blender, and cream—but the things that come out are kind of mind-blowing,” confirms Daniel Burns, who recently opened Brooklyn’s Luksus.

For his part, Redzepi, who shares the cover of next week’s Time with Momofuku’s David Chang and D.O.M’s Alex Atala, sees the work at Noma as part of a larger shift in the way the world looks at chefs. “Twenty years ago, cooking at all levels was, at the end of the day, a blue-collar, menial trade,” he says. “In the past three to five years, things have started to change dramatically. It’s not like it’s a white-collar trade yet, but let’s call it ‘hipster red.’ In these times of change, when a generation like mine is the gateway between the past and future, it’s even more vital and just plain nice to see these friends and colleagues grow around the world. We can process this craziness together.”

To celebrate Noma’s tenth anniversary and the release of A Work in Progress, Vogue.com caught up with four restaurants and their chefs who bring the Noma DNA to their own projects.

The Willows Inn is a secluded retreat located on Lummi Island, WA. The Inn has become a culinary destination and their mantra – “Fished, Foraged, and Farmed”. Chef Blaine Wetzel sources ingredients from Lummi Island fishermen, the surrounding forests and beaches, and from Nettles Farm – only a short walk from the dining room.

Gastronomic retreat in tranquil setting on Lummi Island, a 10-minute ferry ride from the mainland north of Seattle, with 21 accommodations both on site and scattered around the island as much as a mile and a half from the main lounge and restaurant. Off-site lodgings, such as “The Beach House” and “The Watermark” are in stylish, privately owned island homes rented by the inn, and amenities vary, but most offer fine views. On-site options include “The Haven,” perched on a hill behind the restaurant. All have limited service; breakfast at casual café near the ferry dock is included. Principal amenity is excellent restaurant featuring acclaimed chef Blaine Wetzel’s constantly changing menu.

The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the most extraordinary destinations – short, memorable getaways that serve to refresh and inspire. The area is also home to a rich variety of wonderful restaurants.

One well kept secret, both a destination as well as a jewel of a dining spot, is Lummi Island, the most northeasterly of the San Juan archipelago, with a population of slightly more than 900. A short trip from Seattle and a beautiful destination, Lummi Island also is home to one of the top restaurants in the country, the Willows Inn.

In the 20 years I have been going up there, very little has changed. Time stops on Lummi. The little bargelike ferry can carry about 24 vehicles on the six-minute trip from the mainland.
The only noticeable shift on Lummi has been at the 104-year-old Willows Inn, which has become the subject of worldwide attention since chef Blaine Wetzel, 27, came on the scene. Wetzel saw the chef job posted on craigslist in 2010. He had been chef de partie (line cook) at the legendary Noma in Copenhagen, arguably one of the top restaurants in the world, and decided that it was time to return home to Washington state.

“It was like hitting the jackpot,” says Wetzel, of the job that he now lives and breathes. In the few short years he has been at the helm, Wetzel, who is now part owner of the Willows, has seen a noticeable change. “At first there were 10 people for dinner. Now we are full. We are busy, booked every day, filled up months out.”

Wetzel is the reason. The Willows Inn has been listed by The New York Times as one of the 10 places in the world worth flying to for dinner. Bon Appétit magazine lists it as the No. 3 food lovers’ hotel in America. Travel and Leisure says Lummi is among the best secret islands on Earth. Gayot’s 2013 restaurant issue lists Willows Inn as one of the top 40 restaurants in the United States. Those are just a few of its many accolades.

Wetzel, who says he has invested his reputation here, is obsessed with the freshest ingredients, as he says, “farming, fishing, foraging fresh local foods.” Sustainability is his mantra. Even the simplest ingredients come right out of the sea, or garden or forest, arriving on the plate in short order. The difference is noticeable. With each bite, we could hear people moaning with delight as they dined at tables nearby.

Half the guests this year have come from the greater Seattle area, another 20 percent from Vancouver, British Columbia, and the remaining 30 percent from all over the world. The day before I was there, acclaimed restaurant critic Frank Bruni, a repeat customer, had dined there. It’s not unusual to see a Ferrari or Aston Martin parked next to a Subaru at the inn. The dining room can hold 35 at the most, and has one seating five nights a week, from Wednesday through Sunday.

Overnight guests can stay in a variety of rooms, ranging in price from $175 to $675. For dinner, the price and menu are fixed. Dinner is $150. With wine parings it is $65 more. With juice pairings, it is $45. While I cannot speak for the rooms, the unforgettable dinner experience, with its impeccable service, was worth every penny.

Our dinner included charred kohlrabi with red currants and coriander; wild seaweeds with Dungeness crab; dried beets glazed with lingonberries; king salmon with summer squash and nasturtiums; and blueberries with woodruff and malt. And there were snacks – a smoked mussel, nestled on hot rocks served in a cedar box; a tiny crispy crepe with salmon roe; a crackly toasted ribbon of kale with black truffle and rye crumbs; crunchy halibut skin; grilled shiitake. In all there were at least 20 small offerings, each one more heavenly than the one before.

While my friend was served perfect wine pairings, my juice pairings were something to write about as well, all pure, unsweetened, and just squeezed – the color as hypnotizing as the taste – gooseberry; cucumber; sorrel; carrot; and elderflower. If you think you have ever tasted any of these kinds of juices, think again. These are fresher than fresh. The difference is marked and delicious. And the presentation and the service matched the exquisite tastes of the food.

Summer’s a time for soaking it all in, eating every single thing at its absolute peak freshness, staying out late to watch the sun set after nine, the air still warm, cold drink in hand. To help you max out your summer supper plans, I’ve rounded up four special dinners that caught my eye. They’re the kind of dinners that take a little extra effort, a little extra money, but that promise to pay you back in vivid and spirited memories. Reserve soon, though, as they’ll surely sell out.

Willows Inn on Lummi Island is hosting their second annual Harvest Dinner July 24th and 25th, and it is a Big Damn Deal. If you want to eat food cooked by some of the best chefs in the country, surrounded by some of the most serious diners in the country, here’s your chance. Christopher Kostow of the three Michelin starred Restaurant at Meadowood is the chef whose food I’d be most geeked to taste, followed closely by Virgilio Martinez of Central Restaurante in Lima, Peru. Of course this all sounds silly because Alinea chef Grant Achatz will also be in the kitchen, cooking alongside Dominique Crenn, Justin Yu and Willows’ own young genius, Blaine Wetzel. Dinner, with wine (or Wetzel’s incredible juice) pairings included, is $500. If the price doesn’t make you wince, you shouldn’t hesitate to go. (Read this report from last year’s dinner if you’re on the fence.)

Need a good excuse for a little San Juan island-hopping this summer? Frank’s Oyster House chef de Cuisine Kym Goheen is cooking a summer afternoon meal on Shoal Bay on Lopez Island on August 4th (you’ll dine while taking in the stunning view from Jones Family Farm’s oyster beds, pictured above). There’ll be oysters, of course, along with: Herbed goat cheese, house-made crackers and roasted summer peppers with brut Crémant; oysters (raw) and clams from the grill, accompanied by Washington Sauvignon Blanc and Picpoul de Pinet from Languedoc; smoked Jones Family pork loin, seasonal fish and produce accompanied by Oregon Pinot Noir; and strawberry and herbed shortbread with a house-infused strawberry and tarragon eau de vie.

The meal begins with drinks and snacks at 1:45pm and will go unil 6pm or so, making it convenient for those who must leave the island that evening (although, why would you?). The price is $120 per person inclusive of wine. Call Frank’s to reserve a spot, 206.525.0220.

Or reserve at table at the lovely Allium on Orcas Island (pictured left) on the 4th of July, when chef Lisa Nakamura will serve a four course prix-fixe menu: smoked salmon spread on dill focaccia; corn and bacon chowder with fresh corn and roasted garlic dumplings; a Surf and Turf of Painted Hills beef tenderloin and Dungeness crab cakes with potato salad, mac and cheese and summer veggies, and, of course, pie! A la mode with caramel sauce. And just in time for the fireworks, viewed from Allium’s waterfront deck? Hot chocolate and cookies. Dinner’s at 7:30 and is $95 not including wine/tax/gratuity.

Finally, Delancey pizza maestro Brandon Pettit is guest cheffing at an Outstanding in the Field farm dinner on Skagit River Ranch, Tuesday, July 9th. No word yet on what the menu will be, but when I hear back from Pettit I’ll update the post.

Getting to Blaine Wetzel’s restaurant, the Willows Inn on Lummi Island is not easy. But the two-hour drive (plus ferry ride) from Seattle to this island in Washington’s San Juan archipelago is well worth it. Lummi’s isolation and wild beauty are reflected in Wetzel’s food, a pure expression of this mostly uninhabited rocky patch of wooded coastline and its surrounding waters. Much of the Willows Inn’s produce comes from their own Loganita farm and they get some of their red meat from the neighboring Granger Ranch. Wetzel’s chefs also go foraging daily in the woods and on the shore, picking stinging nettles, fiddlehead ferns, sea beans, wood violets and wild roses. Giant spot prawns, geoduck clams and ling cod are plucked out of the water by fishing boats that can be seen from the dining room.

This way of life is second nature to the 27-year-old Olympia, Washington native. “I grew up hunting for mushrooms with my family,” says Wetzel. “I was always outdoors, always fishing, so this was a natural fit for me.” He worked for almost two years on the other side of the world at Copenhagen’s Noma, currently sitting at the top of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, before coming home to take over the Inn’s kitchen in 2010. Noma chef René Redzepi is a fawning admirer of Wetzel’s cuisine, a high compliment from the man who revolutionized Nordic gastronomy and leads a worldwide movement of chefs focused on “time and place” in their meals. But Redzepi is not the only one who’s taken notice of Wetzel’s cooking. Last year Food & Wine named Wetzel a Best New Chef and this year he is a James Beard Award finalist for Rising Star Chef.

Wetzel’s austere yet theatrical progression of dishes is reminiscent of Noma, but a meal at The Willows Inn is like one nowhere else. An impossibly green stinging nettle reduction with wild lettuce and fresh cheese may be followed by a crisp of halibut skin dotted with pickled razor clams and seaweed dust. Each light, colorful and complex dish is a modern folkway, a reflection of life on Lummi Island on that very day.

We head north to Lummi Island, just west of Bellingham to check out the Willows inn. A renowned location that has been bringing in guests for over a century.
Reservations at the Willows fill up quickly for the summer. You can book online at www.willows-inn.com.