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2nd Annual First Harvest Dinner

First Harvest Dinner

Date: 7/24/13 - 7/25/13
Time: 7:00 pm

Location: The Willows Inn on Lummi Island

The Willows Inn on Lummi Island and Chef Blaine Wetzel welcome you to a special dinner prepared by Blaine and five other of the best chefs in the world at our 2nd annual First Harvest Dinner, July 24 and 25.

First Harvest

We assembled a team consisting of a globe-trotter chef from Peru and four of America’s most acclaimed chefs – James Beard Award winners, Iron Chef America winner, Michelin 3-Star and Mobil Travel 5-Star, and more – to prepare the most memorable dinner of your life.

This is an exclusive event, one you’ll never stop talking about.

These six widely-acclaimed chefs will create your dinner from the wide selections out of the Willows Inn’s specialty culinary garden, from the local seas, and from foraging the surrounding Lummi Island forests and beaches.

You’ll dine on the expertise of each chef’s gatherings off of the edible ground cover, from their picks at Loganita Farm, and from the catches of fresh salmon, spot prawns, and halibut with local fishermen.

The chefs challenge one another, stretching their gourmet creativity to the extreme at your pleasure.

Your inner gourmand will anticipate every bite, every taste throughout the most extraordinary event of its kind, unmatched anywhere in the U.S. The Willows Inn on Lummi Island recently received a No. 3 ranking by Bon Appetit among Best Food Lovers’ Hotels in the U.S., and other lofty ratings among the most outstanding fine dining and travel publications.



Chef Blaine Wetzel, Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Lummi Island

Blaine WetzelHonored as a Best New Chef 2012 by Food & Wine Magazine, Blaine this year became a nominee for Rising Star Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation. It was his third consecutive year to reach semifinals, and he was the only one outside of a major-metropolitan area to advance to the final five. At age 24, Blaine came to The Willows Inn almost three years ago after serving as chef-de-partie for internationally-acclaimed Rene Redzepi at Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark – the repeatedly-recognized best restaurant in the world.

Blaine grew up in Olympia, Wash., learned to forage in the Puget Sound (especially shellfish and mushrooms), and started working in kitchens at age 14.  He attended culinary school in Scottdale, Ariz., and launched his career at fine-dining restaurants in Phoenix and Las Vegas. Since becoming a partner in the new ownership group of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Wetzel has developed a unique pre fixe dinner of 18-22 exquisite tastes, bites, and main courses with a commitment to ingredients sourced from gardens and forests and beaches on the island and from surrounding waters (such as unique reef-net caught salmon and the treasured spot prawns).

His fished, foraged, farmed only-here mantra follows the traditions of farm-to-table in the strictest sense, including detailed ingredients specifically requested by Blaine and grown by The Willows Inn’s own bio-intensive culinary gardener on a private farm. The exclusive one-seating dinner books months in advance and has drawn featured attention in multiple publications, including No. 3 Food Lover’s Hotel in the U.S. 2013 by Bon Appetit, and several “must-experience” lists ranging from a New York Times list of “10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride” to Gayot to Lonely Planet, and features in Wall Street Journal, Gourmet, Dujour, Outside Magazine, Paper Magazine, and numerous other publications.

Chef Grant Achatz, Alinea – Chicago, 6 James Beard Awards, Outstanding Chef (2008)


Grant has gained status as one of the most-recognized names in the entire culinary world, including honors as the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef (2003), Best Chef: Great Lakes (’07), and Outstanding Chef (’08). He has taken Alinea to No. 6 in the world (Restaurant Magazine), and was the North American leader for four years.

As a co-owner and author (titles: Alinea, and Life, On the Line about his battle with state 4 carcinoma), Grant has expanded and elevated the standards of sophisticated cuisine not only in the fine-dining hotbed of Chicago, but throughout the U.S. He’s a leader in progressive cuisine (sometimes called, for its scientific methods, molecular gastronomy), Grant started by flipping eggs in his parents’ small Michigan restaurant before attending the Culinary Institute of America. Achatz spent four years with superstar French-style specialist Thomas Keller (Per Se, and the French Laundry). As Achatz puts it, he learned “…how to cook and how to live life.” He rose quickly to sous chef for Keller, one of the most acclaimed chefs ever.

At age 26, Grant accepted his first executive chef position at four-star Trio in Evanston, Ill., and began to cultivate his own style. Three years later Trio earned the fifth star from Mobil—one of just 13 U.S. restaurants with that rating.

The next year, 2005, Chicago entrepreneur Nick Kokonas proposed a partnership that would create a restaurant worthy of Achatz’ talent. In only a year with no signage (just the street number), no lobby, no bar, and 65 seats, the Alinea 18-course tasting menu became Gourmet Magazine’s No. 1 restaurant in America, and in 2007 Mobil Travel Guide made it one of just 16 in the nation with a five-star rating.

And though he might easily rest on the plentiful laurels of Alinea in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Grant instead has once again reaffirmed his commitment to creativity and innovation: he recently opened a time-and-place, dinner-hopping concept, Next (tickets required, going for as much as $500 on Craigslist), and a unique concept cocktail bar, Aviary, which earned the James Beard Award this year for Outstanding Bar Program.

Chef Dominique Crenn, Atelier Crenn, San Francisco, “Iron Chef America” Winner (2010)


Naming her restaurant in honor of her father’s art atelier (workshop), Dominique opened in January this year on the momentum of a spectacular, rapid rise on the U.S. culinary scene.

She came from Versailles, France, where her father was a politician and artist, and became Esquire’s 2008 Chef of the Year. Soon thereafter, she earned “star chef” ratings twice from Michelin, 2009-’10, and she won the 2010 “Iron Chef America” on the Food Network while working at Luce in San Francisco.
Dominique focuses on cuisine as a craft, branding her restaurant as a “Poetic Culinaria” studio with artistry at the forefront of its fine-French cuisine approach. She uses community as inspiration for Bay Area seasonal sourcing. Atelier Crenn features a pre fixe menu.


Chef Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif., 2 James Beard Awards  this year

ChristopherKostowChristopher became a Michelin-starred chef before the age of 30, and recently received his highest accolade ever as the James Beard Foundation Best Chef award winner in the Pacific Division. The Restaurant at Meadowood also earned the 2013 James Beard Award in the Outstanding Service category.

A Time magazine article last December stated that “Meadowood is quite possibly the only restaurant on the planet to have earned such an accolade (Michelin three stars) without a menu.” Each table gets a customized meal and a menu at the end. Keller was quoted, “Chris exemplifies the progression of American cuisine….”

Food & Wine named Christopher as one of its Best New Chefs (’09), just a year after joining the Restaurant at Meadowood, and he earned that highest Michelin rating, three stars, in its 2011 Guide to Fine Dining. He grew up in the Chicago area and earned a degree in philosophy before choosing the chef’s profession and moving to San Diego. He started creating his own dishes at George’s at the Cove when he was 22, and later cooked all over France – including in a 700-year-old former monks’ abbey.

Christopher takes a thoughtful approach to food that belies his age, often characterized as avant garde. Masterfully blending contemporary French cuisine with the farm-to-table tradition, he has created a transcendent experience for diners nightly since arriving five years ago at Meadowood in the wine-rich Napa Valley.

He and his wife Martina recently became parents, and he’s considering opening another restaurant, more casual, perhaps barbecue, according to a magazine interview.

Chef Virgilio Martinez, Central Restaurante, Lima, Peru


From the beginning of his career Virgilio would escape the formalisms of his conservative Peru. He held a passion for cooking since early in life, but Peru has no culinary school, so he pursued and obtained a law degree.

He built his chef’s career around a love for Chinese, Japanese, and Italian food and developed through Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in London and then with a long journey through Ottawa in Canada; London; Paris; Bangkok; New York; Milan, and other large cities that offered him the technical training he needed to feed his passion for cooking.

After 10 years of journeying around the world Virgilio returned home and began working at the side of Gaston Acurio, who delegated him to Madrid, Spain, to manage the opening responsibilities of Astrid & Gaston—a renowned restaurant in his homeland capital, Lima, and another one later in Bogota, Colombia.

This reconnected Virgilio with his territory, with the flavors, the ingredients, and the elements of his land. He looked more closely at the rugged terrain of his country, its biodiversity, and noticed immense potential and a cornucopia of thousands of products—both known and as yet undiscovered—which he could easily infuse in the cuisine of Peru.

Chef Wetzel from The Willows Inn on Lummi Island spent sabbatical time with Chef Martinez this year and said afterward of the foraging and seafood experiences, “I learned about probably 100 species of ingredients I’d never heard of, and learned from their mastery of the preparation and presentation of ceviche.”

Chef Justin Yu, Oxheart, Houston


Oxheart, which Justin opened just over a year ago in the downtown Warehouse District of Houston with an open-kitchen concept focusing on a progressive take on Texas ingredients and traditions, garnered a Best New Restaurant nomination by the James Beard Foundation. At the same time in May this year, Justin became a semifinalist as a Rising Star Chef.

He brought to the Oxheart table his experiences from several of America’s finest establishments, such as Green Zebra and Spring in Chicago, *17 in Houston, and Ubuntu in Napa, Calif. Internationally, he served as a stagiaire at In de Wulf in Dranouter, Belgium and at AOC and Geranium, renowned restaurants in Copenhagen, Denmark.

As Chef/Owner at Oxheart, Justin places a modern, seasonally-driven focus on Texas produce, meat, and fish that articles have called “vegetable-centric.”