This week we’re focusing on the 16 innovative chefs who are battling their way down to eight by the end of the week in our bracket-vote contest. Get started voting NOW!
We’re feeling like a broken record already, but if you haven’t heard: Vote in all the battles, and enter for a chance to win a trip, with a guest, to the victorious chef’s restaurant. And you can come back once a day to vote, which means once a day to enter the sweepstakes.
Matt Dillon: You remember Matt Dillon, from Singles? This one’s different. Matt Dillon the Seattle restaurateur doesn’t have an Oscar nomination, but he’s got a Food & Wine Best New Chef nomination. An alum of local/sustainable fetish palace the Herbfarm, Dillon has taken two unlikely locations—an Eastlake strip mall and a century-old building in Seattle’s industrial Georgetown neighborhood—to establish himself as an evangelist of hyperlocal, hyper-handmade food. At Sitka & Spruce (he moved it from the strip mall to Capitol Hill last year), patrons sit in close quarters, happily feasting upon vegetable-centric, unfussy dishes like local spot prawns with cannellini beans and chorizo. At the lovingly restored Corson Building, Dillon and his team serve family-style feasts and host community-oriented events. Jonathan Kauffman, then of the Seattle Weekly, called the place “high-end dining with a populist mission.” But the best quote attributed to Dillon is that his “philosophies about food and food culture can be traced to Fugazi, a socially minded, post-hardcore punk band of the ’80s and ’90s.”
Ethan Stowell: He opened Union in 2003—at the dewy age of 28—and it became a linchpin of the Seattle locavore movement. By the time Union closed last year, Stowell had opened four other restaurants: casual Italian Tavolata, seafood-focused Anchovies & Olives, the small-plates How to Cook a Wolf, plus his most recent restaurant, Staple & Fancy, where diners are encouraged to let the chef decide the course of their meal. The Seattle Weekly calls Stowell’s cooking “clean,” but hardly simple. And while he seems to resist sounding like an empire-builder, he’s also got stands selling crêpes and grass-fed burgers at Safeco Field. He’s been appointed a Rising Star, a Best New Chef, and a James Beard Best Chef finalist. Plus, Anchovies & Olives was anointed one of Bon Appétit‘s best new restaurants, way back last year when it was new, before Stowell had some newer new things. Did we miss anything? Yes—for good measure—there’s also the cookbook and the dried pasta business. For a man who makes it a point to actually cook in his restaurants, that’s an awful lot of businesses to run.