In 2009, Mashiko Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar chef Hajime Sato, made a responsible but risky decision: go fully sustainable. This move meant eliminating some of the more popular sushi dishes, such as eel and shrimp, because of their endangered status. "You have to explain to people," he says in a video introduction to the restaurant. "People aren't going to eat whale because the media talks about it. But nobody talks about eel." Today, Sato and his staff pride themselves on running one of the few truly sustainable sushi restaurants in Seattle—or anywhere. He can trace each of his menu items back to its source and identify how it was caught. Seafood such as salmon and tuna are raised in farms that are free of antibiotics and designed not to disturb surrounding ocean life or dolphins trying to nap. The fishermen Sato works with pay equal respect to adjacent species by keeping bycatch—fish caught accidently—to a minimum. The policies and the resulting flavors alike have won praise from outlets such as Eater Seattle, which named Mashiko one of its 38 Essential Seattle Restaurants in 2012.
Mary White wants to make sure you never eat a pizza that tastes like cardboard again. After working for 20-plus years for TV and radio in Seattle, she understands the importance of convenient meals, and focuses on recipes that can be easily achieved with whatever is currently stocked in the pantry or fridge. She shares her tips during group cooking classes, and shares her recipes by posting them on her website and scrawling them in secret code on butter.
Growing up in the Italian port town of Brindisi, Luigi DeNunzio frequented the colorful outdoor markets with his father. Surrounded by stalls bursting with local produce, meat, fish, and dairy, Luigi discovered his love of rustic cuisine composed from the freshest regional ingredients. After immigrating to Seattle in 1977, Luigi amassed experience in both cooking and business while working at a handful of the city's Italian restaurants. In 1989, he opened Al Boccalino, where tables covered in white linen host plates of hearty Italian fare. Since then, Luigi has expanded his oeuvre to include cooking classes as well as a second, more casual eatery, Caf? Bengodi.
After producing a children's educational video about local produce and healthy eating called Earth to Table, ChefShop founders Tim Mar and Eliza Ward capitalized on their passion for locally sourced fare in 1998 with an extensive online database of artisan farmers and food experts. Today, ChefShop connects shoppers with top-shelf ingredients and produce, from free-range turkeys to fruit from central Washington or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from Italy. Before stocking them on their virtual shelves, the ChefShop team ensures each item is raised and developed using time-honored techniques and is run through a gauntlet of quality-assurance taste tests, meetings with farmers, and food fights with the preeminent experts in food fights: middle-school rebels.
Clients peruse the ever-updated inventory for goodies such as sustainable line-caught seafood, decades-aged balsamic vinegar, or rare Sardinian bottarga, filling their kitchen repertoire with handy recipes along with the top-shelf ingredients. Aspiring cooks master a range of cooking styles under professional chefs in ChefShop's cooking classes, ranging from the creation of rich Italian pastas to fashioning delectable small plates and tapas.
FareStart began in 1992, when founder David Lee realized that homeless people needed more than just food. His innovative job-training program has changed the lives of nearly 7,000 disadvantaged individuals so far. After men, women, and teens complete free food-service training—which includes life-skills training and individual case management—they can take advantage of job-placement services. Graduates of the program boast a 90% employment rate, with some even ending up at the FareStart restaurant on Virginia Street.
The restaurant’s main focus is lunch, which it serves Monday–Friday. The concise, sandwich-centric menu includes the acclaimed Field Roast sandwich, which features a hazelnut-crusted lentil and sage patty nestled between slices of vegan potato bread with mustard and vegan fig mayo. Entrees generally include soup, and FareStart devotees agree that the tomato-basil blend is not to be missed. Be sure to watch out for new specials and desserts, such as a bacon-chocolate-chip cookie, which pairs perfectly with a housemade espresso.
Each Thursday night, Seattle’s finest chefs take over the FareStart kitchen for a one-of-a-kind prix fixe meal. In addition to supporting a good cause, guests can feel good knowing that they’ve tried one of USA Today’s 10 Best Foodie Spots in Seattle. Reservations usually fill up in advance, so plan ahead to catch your favorite chefs.
Seattle Can Can owner and instructor Vic Phelps has put up produce in her kitchens for more than 35 years and happily imparts her tricks and techniques to all levels of curious canners. Vic reaches into her deep knowledge of equipment, canning physics, and the favorite Frank Sinatra songs of strawberries to teach classes on pickling, jams, and all-purpose canning for novice or experienced produce preservers.