Meet Linda Derschang

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For over 20 years Linda Derschang has been a dynamic figure in Seattle’s dining and nightlife scene, particularly on Capitol Hill.

It all started in 1994 on Pine Street, in the heart of the now thriving Pike/Pine corridor, with the beloved and quirky Linda’s Tavern. The tavern drew inspiration from the mountain bars around Crested Butte near where Linda grew up in Colorado. Located on a formerly gritty stretch of Pine Street, the neon sign in the window reads “TOOLS RADIO TACKLE.” When you step through the door you are transported somewhere else. The rustic wooden booths, neon signs, the rough-hewn planks that hold the liquor bottles, and the glowering bison head behind the bar are not the stuff of any ordinary scruffy bar. Add to that one of the best patios in the city, a crowd of talented creatives, and you’ve got a hit.

Twenty years on, it’s still hard to find an open table. The bar looks much as it did when it opened though the neighborhood surrounding it has changed immensely. And Linda, both the person and her namesake bar, have helped shape the aesthetic that makes Capitol Hill such a draw.

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A stream of very different and equally memorable places followed Linda’s: The Capital Club, The Baltic Room, Chop Suey, (she has sold her interest in these three), King’s Hardware, Smith, Oddfellows Cafe and Bar, Little Oddfellows in the Elliot Bay Book Company, Bait Shop, and Tallulah’s.

With the exception of Ballard’s King’s Hardware, all of them are a short bike ride away from each other. Each attracts an eclectic and devoted neighborhood crowd. What unites them is Linda’s unerring sense of design—whether it’s applied to the airy, elegant Oddfellow’s Cafe or the eccentric dive-bar feel of Bait Shop.

Linda has been a long-time wholesale customer of Macrina, a relationship we’re very proud of. Recently we had an opportunity to ask her a few questions.

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Each of your places feels like someone had fun creating them—that sense of  “Wouldn’t it be cool if….” And they feel authentic. There seems to be a real enjoyment of design down to the smallest details, such as the owl salt/pepper shakers at Tallulah’s. Would you talk a bit about your design process?

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The design process is different for each project. I approached Little Oddfellows very differently because it was a remodel of a business than from Tallulah’s, which was in new construction, or Oddfellows which is in a very old building. Sometimes I make up a story about the place I am designing. For Little Oddfellows I imagined a coffee shop in Amsterdam or Copenhagen perhaps. Sometimes I think of a few key terms like turn of the century mercantile.

You’re right about the loving of the details, that can be the most enjoyable part. I think when opening a business it can be easy to think that you’ll get to the little details later but I believe it’s really important to open with them to give a really finished feel to a place.

Found objects play a role in a number of the establishments. Are you always on the hunt?

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I am always keeping an eye out and over the years, I’ve ended up with lots of interesting, quirky objects that often I will keep at my home for a while before I find the perfect spot for them. Take the portrait wall at Smith – I started collecting old portraits because I kept running across them at all sorts of places, years ago they were very inexpensive and I felt that in a sense they were all orphans. I really loved using many of them at Smith. I feel that they add to the charm and look.

Where do you find so many cool signs, great used furniture, the drink mixer at Bait Shop, etc.?

I find things all over the place, including antique malls, thrift stores, and Craigslist. Cashmere, the huge cat painting in Tallulah’s, came from Kirk Albert in Georgetown as did the old Firebird hood mounted to the wall at Bait Shop. I love the stories these pieces can add to a space. 

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How has your design taste evolved over time? 

My taste and style has always been a mix of old and new and high and low. Having a mix of styles has always been very natural for me. I think traveling has definitely added to my taste, I get so much inspiration and so many ideas from other places. I went to Denmark a few months before I opened Little Oddfellows and the Scandinavian cafes I visited while I was there were so inspiring and influenced my approach to designing the space.

Do you come to a space with a concept in mind or does the space drive the concept?

I always think about the neighborhood the space will be part of. I try to create businesses that are meaningful to their neighborhoods and communities. Each one of my businesses is different from each other, but they are all neighborhood spots. That’s a common thread they share.

http://www.thederschanggroup.com/who-we-are/ for more information on Linda.

 

Panettone

panettone smallThere is hardly a more Italian way of celebrating the holidays than a slice of panettone and a flute of prosecco, a December ritual in homes, cafes, and restaurants throughout Italy. This sweet toque-shaped yeast bread stuffed with raisins and candied orange and lemon peel originated in Milan. It’s often served with a sauce of zabaglione, a custardy sauce made with egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine, or crema di mascarpone, and accompanied with a glass of sweet wine such as Moscato d’Asti. The name panettone comes from the Italian word “panetto,” a small loaf cake. The addition of the suffix “-one” makes it a large cake.

The origins of the cake date back to a type of leavened cake sweetened with honey and enjoyed by nobility during the Roman Empire. The cake makes cameo appearances in Italian paintings in the 16th century and is associated with Christmas in the 18th-century writings of Pietro Verri, who wrote an epic history of Milan.

But Panettone didn’t become a household item until 1925 when Angelo Motta, a Milanese baker, began commercial production of the bread. He’s credited with modifying the shape from a low, dense loaf to the tall, airy bread we know today. He introduced a natural leavening process, more like that used in sourdough, and allowed the bread to rise three times over 18 hours before baking. This produces the bread’s lightness and soft texture.

Motta’s bread was an enormous success and soon a competitor arose. Giacchino Alemagna created a similar bread, pricing his higher. The competition proved good for both brands, with Motta seen as the panettone of the middle-class, while Alemagna targeted those willing and able to pay premium prices. Today, the brands Motta and Alemagna dominate the market. Over 100 million panettone are produced by Italian bakeries each holiday season. Italy only has 60 million people! Even with about 10% of production bound for export that is a lot of panettone per person.

While commercial production of panettone dominates in Italy and abroad, many small bakeries (or le pasticcerie in Italy) make their traditional versions of the famous bread. Macrina’s version was inspired by a recipe in Carol Field’s wonderful book The Italian Baker. Our loaf is studded with candied citrus and dried fruits and enriched with eggs and butter. Nowadays it’s easy to find decorative paper baking molds, but I prefer to bake these loaves in clay flowerpots, which look beautiful and make great holiday gifts. The dough takes time and cannot be rushed, but it’s more than worth the wait. If you’re looking for an alternative to the version shipped over from Italy you can pick one up at any of our cafes this month, or find my recipe in the Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook. Then grab a bottle of prosecco and invite some friends over for a very Italian holiday celebration.

Happy Holidays, Leslie

Heyday – Not Your Average Burger Joint

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In the kind of cosmic connection that makes us all smile, Gary Snyder, co-owner of Geraldine’s Counter and now co-owner of Heyday, shares a random point of intersection with that other Gary Snyder, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Zen Buddhist, and protagonist of Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums. The publisher of Gary Snyder, the poet, is also named Heyday. Gary Snyder, the restauranteur, had no idea. He and his business partner, Dang Nguyen, chose the playful name because the space is located on Day Street in Seattle’s quiet Mount Baker neighborhood. “Names are really hard to come by,” Snyder said. “My partner came up with Heyday and it just stuck. It works.”

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Heyday is no ordinary burger joint. Starting with the interior. The space was designed by Graham Baba, the architect behind many treasured eating spots such as Melrose Market, Chophouse Row, and La Spiga. Floor-to-ceiling windows, sleek lighting, concrete floors, slotted wood on the walls and ceiling, and the use of lots of blue in the tile work that surrounds the bar and an inspired geometric mural that adorns a back wall give the space a warm, modern look.

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And the burgers aren’t the usual assortment. The menu was created by Melissa Nyffeler, the former chef/owner of the beloved Capitol Hill restaurant Dinette, which closed in 2013. The Saigon patty has equal portions beef, pork, and shrimp and is topped with Napa cabbage, fresh mint, cilantro, pickled daikon, carrots, and Sriracha aioli. Other offerings are made with lamb, bison, falafel, jerk chicken, and cod. All are served on Macrina Bakery’s potato buns and served with a side of the house-made pickles. Creative starters such as blackened cauliflower are excellent, and so are the hand-cut french fries that are deep-fried twice for the perfect crunch. The thick, crispy onion rings shouldn’t be overlooked. Another standout is the house-made pickled vegetables served with every burger and available as an appetizer.

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Snyder and crew went through a lengthy process to choose the right bun for their burgers, looking for one that would hold all the ingredients without getting soggy or being so firm that the filling squeezes out. “Originally I thought we should have a different bun that works for each burger,” Snyder said. “We sampled multiple buns from different bakeries. Macrina’s potato bun just worked, and it worked on every burger. Such a good bun. It toasts really well. We decided we didn’t need different varieties.”

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Heyday is family-friendly, with the space split about evenly between seating in the adults-only bar and the all-ages restaurant side. “We get a lot of families. I almost wish I had more room than I do. That’s the part that fills the quickest,” Snyder said.

While the neighborhood is quiet, Heyday is open late. Regular hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m, with the kitchen serving until 10 p.m. At some point next year weekend brunch may become a reality. Keep your ears open. Geraldine’s brunch is so highly-regarded that the to-be-determined offerings will surely be worth investigating.

 

 

Behind the Scenes

sh8I’m always surprised how much goes into making one of our short videos. Patrick Kehoe, a local director and photographer, has worked with me to produce eight videos so far. We have our rhythm down. Cooking in front of a camera doesn’t intimidate me—especially with recipes I’ve made hundreds of times before—but it’s still a lot of work. I want everything to look just right and to convey the tranquility I feel living out on Vashon Island and to share my love for cooking, especially with vegetables and fruits and edible flowers I’ve grown myself.

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For our fall video I chose pumpkin pie, for the obvious reasons, but also inspired by a beautiful pumpkin in my garden. It still impresses me that this beautiful large squash grew out of one of the dry little seeds I planted in April.

On the day of filming, I woke early—baker’s hours—to get the house ready. The day was overcast, but thankfully not raining, something you can’t count on in October around here. Patrick prefers to film in natural light, so I set up my dining room table near the windows as a work table. I made two recipes of the Flaky Pie Dough from my first cookbook. Since each recipe makes enough for two crusts I’d have plenty extra, just in case. When filming you always need to be sure there is extra. You never know when you might need to reshoot something. Then I set about making one pumpkin pie in advance. Having one finished already makes the shoot go faster. When I put the one I made on camera into the oven, we were able to move right into filming the finished pie.

With my food prep finished I made sure there were eggs in the chicken coop and that nothing had happened to the garden pumpkins. Next I arranged my work table, putting all the tools and ingredients out that I would need. I take great pride in displaying ingredients in colorful bowls and using family dishes collected over the years. The final detail was to instruct my dad, who’d agreed to help, when to get the pizza for lunch. In the past, we’d worked twelve hours without eating. A terrible idea, especially when working with food all day.

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Patrick and his assistant Casey arrived punctually at ten with their bags and boxes of cameras. While Casey set up, Patrick and I went over the script I’d prepared. We broke it into nine scenes: fetch eggs from the chicken coop; get pumpkin from the garden; cut, clean, roast pumpkin; roll out the pie dough; bake the crust; make the decorative leaves for the pie with the extra dough; make the filling; bake the pie; cut and serve a slice. With only one dish—the pie—this video was easier than others we’d done.

Before starting each shot we choreograph the action. I explain to Patrick what I’m going to do. We do a dry run to see what it looks like. With our rehearsal done, Patrick sets up the cameras for the shots he wants. As we get going there are lots of pauses, lots of “stand by’s” and “go for it’s.” Often I must repeat actions slowly. Patrick stops to change lenses or cameras, working to get the best shot. He has a remarkable eye, lots of patience, and a great way of talking me through the process.

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We progressed from the chicken coop to the garden, getting the shots we needed, all with my dog Louis barking. This is life on the farm. Louis doesn’t tolerate visitors as gracefully as my other dog Jasper.  But the extra noise doesn’t matter since we record the sound last. Patrick mixes the audio with the video back in his studio.

By about noon we had the squash cut and roasting in the oven as well as the pie crust when my dad showed up with the pizza—lunch time. After a short break we resumed filming the finished pie, using the one I had baked earlier in the morning. I always fuss with the final presentation and this time was no different. I added some grapes to the plate for color, added the sweetened whipped cream, and sprinkled the plate with a mix of powdered sugar and cinnamon. Then I added one of the leaves I’d cut from the leftover dough and baked. It didn’t look right. Fortunately I had seven more slices. I nailed it on the next one—without the leaf.

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Later in the afternoon we finished filming the filling and had baked the second pie. Only the talking parts remained. Maybe because I’m tired by this point, or because I’m not as practiced at narrating all the details of what I do when I’m cooking, this is always the harder part. I create an outline. This helps me talk more authentically. Patrick is really helpful at pulling out key phrases. While we can do take after take, the more retakes we do the more difficult it feels to me. Sometimes I get too lavish in my descriptions, over-explaining the process, and Patrick has to rein me in. “This is going to be a short video,” he reminds me.

After what feels like too long, my liveliness waning, we had what we needed. Patrick and Casey packed up their gear and I worked on cleaning up the many dishes I’d created, amazed again that it had taken twelve hours to film a four-minute video. But the results were worth it. They always are.

Leslie

Click here to see the video.

The Thanksgiving Rush

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Thanksgiving is such a special time of year, a time for family and friends to come together to celebrate food. Not surprisingly, the Thanksgiving holiday is the busiest time of year for us at Macrina. Demand for our offerings has grown every year. So many customers have told me how helpful it is to get items from us—our pumpkin pie, for instance—that allows them to spend more time with family and friends, offerings they know will shine.

And isn’t it really the sides and the pie that make the Thanksgiving holiday? I enjoy a slice or two of turkey, but what I go for is the stuffing, the vegetables, the cranberries, the rolls, and at my table anyway, various crostini with interesting spreads. To this end, we make a stuffing mix that has gotten very popular. We used to sell the stuffing mix only in the cafes, making it with leftover bread. Now we bake loaves just for the stuffing mix. You can find them at many places that carry Macrina’s breads. Our crostini and spreads have also taken off, as have our dinner rolls, our Winter Pear Crown and, of course, our pies.

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Loaves of bread waiting to be prepped into our stuffing mix

We start our planning in early September when I sit down with our lead bakers, our savory department, and our retail managers. We talk about past favorites and new ideas. We test recipes. When we finally have our season’s list of offerings, we talk about logistics. This is no small challenge. Even with our fabulous space in Sodo, which once seemed so big, we are bursting at the seams. The spatial challenges and work-flow planning fall on the capable shoulders of Production Manager Jane Cho. The mixers run around the clock now, with three shifts managing dough production. On Thanksgiving eve last year they mixed nearly 20,000 pounds of dough. A seasonal crew is brought in to help with the production and packaging of the stuffing mix. Given the limited floor space, Jane maps out the production floor on charts that resemble architectural renderings.

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Loaves of Guiseppe awaiting delivery to local grocery stores.

I work with Head Baker Phong Bui on all the items, such as this year’s Porcini Roll Tray, or the Winter Pear Crown, a sweet bread spiked with black pepper. Mi Kim, our head pastry chef, stays busy prepping lots of pie shells, pies, and ingredients to be ready for the big Thanksgiving rush. She says, “Every day is a busy day for our bakers once the holiday season is here! Long days are logged from everyone when needed, and we have fun doing it!”

In our savory department, Savory General Manager Marilyn Mercer and her team, in addition to preparing items for the cafes, are busy making the spreads, including a new one, a smoked trout spread. Savory Assistant Manager Elizabeth Hall says, “It’s Scandinavian-inspired, with smoked white trout from Gerard & Dominique, a premium purveyor of smoked fish, located right here in Washington state. We blend the smoked trout with a hint of horseradish, cream cheese, scallions, parsley, chervil, and lemon.”

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Our pastry case stocked with Thanksgiving treats.

The cafes must also do lots of extra planning, upping their pars to ensure they have enough on the shelves for their customers. Crystal Kitchin, general manager of cafes, starts the month off with a two-night Thanksgiving tasting. Each member of the retail staff tastes the products and learns how different items pair so they can help guide customers. On Thanksgiving Eve the management team comes in early in the morning to put together the long list of special orders that have been placed throughout the month. Elizabeth Krhounek, general manager of the McGraw Cafe, says, “Being here at 2:30 in the morning in my pajamas to get all the orders ready is really fun, also putting on music we usually can’t listen to in the store. Last year my lead came in wearing his red onesie pajamas.”

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Crystal checking to make sure all the orders are organized for pick up.

While all the extra work provides new challenges, it’s exciting to see all the teamwork. “In production you see everyone moving fast, working their hardest, but we have fun,” Jane Cho says. “It’s exciting. And then after months of planning it’s just suddenly over and we get to enjoy the holiday with family and friends.” It really is a rush, in every sense. I love it all.

Our Thanksgiving menu is now available for the whole month of November. We will be taking advanced orders for the holiday through noon, November 23rd.

Leslie

Garden Pumpkin Pie Video

Last year was the first year I grew my own squash for our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. We did a taste test between canned and fresh, and surprise, fresh squash won. My favorite pumpkin variety is the New England Pie Pumpkin. You can find the seeds in many local garden stores. It’s fun planting a garden in April, nurturing it through the summer and waiting for the squash to ripen in the fall. It’s even more fun cutting that pumpkin up and turning it into pie!

The pie crust recipe I use is Flaky Pie Dough from More From Macrina cookbook. We sell this pie as well as many other Thanksgiving treats at our cafes. Do come visit and see what we’ve got cooking. Watch the video to learn how I prepare my special pumpkin pie and follow the recipe links below.

Garden Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Flaky Pie Dough Recipe

Stecca

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I love the breads made by Jim Lahey at Sullivan Street Breads in New York City. He’s one of America’s great artisan bakers. He bakes most of his crusty European-style breads until they’re quite dark. They come out of the oven burnished, with an amazing crackle when you bite into them. But he also makes a few loaves with thin, light brown crusts. My partner, Matt Galvin, sampled an airy bread of his on a trip to New York – not quite baguette, not quite breadstick and not quite focaccia.  Matt suggested something like this would make a nice addition to our line of breads. I set out to create something similar but uniquely Macrina.

Stecca, a soft “sweet” (meaning not sour) baguette, is made with our yeast-risen ciabatta dough. The loaves are baked closely together, “kissing” we call it, which results in soft sides. This makes it an ideal bread for sandwiches of all kinds. It has a light, golden crust and a well-aerated irregular crumb structure. Stecca is now available in all of our cafes.

Beginning in 2016, we will begin offering a Green-Olive Stecca exclusively in our cafes. Studded with green olives, brushed with extra-virgin olive oil, and garnished with fresh herbs this bread is hard to resist.

Pan de Muerto

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In Mexico, Pan de Muerto, or bread of the dead, is a flavorful sweet bread traditionally baked during the weeks leading up to the Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. All month leading up to the official celebration people enjoy this bread. On Dia de los Muertos, the bread is taken to the gravesite, often along with the favorite food of the deceased, and eaten there. Food is very important to the celebration, for it is thought the dead are driven back to the living by the scent of their favorite foods.

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Our Pan de Muerto is made in honor of this wonderful tradition. A soft round of sweet, yeast-risen bread with a crunchy cinnamon sugar glaze, ours is studded with fresh orange zest and spiced with orange flower water, cinnamon, cardamon, and cloves. We lay two crossed links of dough over the top to symbolize crossbones. They represent those no longer among the living. This bread, sliced and toasted for breakfast or dipped in Mexican hot chocolate as an afternoon snack is a decadent treat.

Pan de Muerto is in our cafes up through the Day of the Dead. You can also find it at Metropolitan Markets and Town and Country Markets.

Leslie

 

Un Bien: On Their Own

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“These are the guys that turned down Guy Fieri,” Ornella Lorenzo blurted out.

“Not because we didn’t want the exposure,” her husband, Lucas Lorenzo protested. “We’re just not the best at publicity, actually we’re pretty bad. I mean, look at us. We suck on paper. We didn’t attend a fancy culinary institute, we’ve never traveled the world sourcing the best international flavors. We just grew up working with my dad, day in and day out, learning the recipes and cuisine he brought with him from Cuba.”

Welcome to Un Bien, the child of Paseo, or more accurately, a restaurant by the children of Lorenzo Lorenzo (his real name), the founder and former owner of Paseo, arguably Seattle’s most celebrated sandwich shop. For over 20 years, until it’s abrupt closing last November, Paseo was a favorite of locals and travelers alike. Lorenzo’s two children, Julian and Lucas Lorenzo, worked weekends at Paseo while in high school and full-time for the last five years. When their father, amidst some legal trouble, abruptly closed both stores, Julian and Lucas were left without jobs.

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Four months ago they opened Un Bien at 7302 15th Ave NW in Ballard, at the former site of Burger Hero (and Lunchbox Laboratory before that). They’ve painted the building a Caribbean-pink and are serving many of the same sandwiches that made Paseo famous—such as the nationally-renowned Caribbean Roast. They use the same bread Paseo did for 20 years, the Giuseppe Roll made by Macrina, the perfect roll for a robust sandwich like the Caribbean Roast—not so soft that it collapses under the weight and juices of the marinated pork, aioli, onions, lettuce, and jalapeños, and not so firm that the sandwich’s ingredients spill out into your lap (or at least most of them) when you take a bite.

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They opened with a staff comprised entirely of former Paseo employees. Business has been brisk, largely fueled by word of mouth. To keep up, they’ve recently had to hire two new employees. Lucas works the kitchen in the mornings, Julian in the evenings. They are busy at lunch and then again later at dinner. As their father was, they are very protective of the secret ingredients in the marinades. But they’ve tweaked things a bit, finding ways to speed up the line by making the kitchen more efficient, adding a helpful new POS system, and accepting credit cards, a big difference from the cash-only days of their father’s Paseo.

On a recent weekday afternoon, Un Bien’s long outdoor communal table was full, a steady line at the order window, the kitchen a bustle of activity. Lucas, his wife Ornella, and Julian stood in front, tired from the days work, but grateful to be open and doing their own thing. “We feel very fortunate for the reception we’ve gotten,” Julian said. When asked about the future Lucas said, “We still have to get through our first winter. We work to make the food we know the best we can. We’re proud to make our father’s recipes, to carry that on, and also to be doing our own thing. One day at a time. We’re restaurant people, that’s what we do.”

Un Bien:  7302 15th Ave NW; Open Wednesday-Saturday 11 am – 9 pm and Sunday 11 am – 8 pm; Closed Monday and Tuesday

Sunset Magazine

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Sunset Magazine is featuring my kitchen in the October issue. Truth be told, the article is sweet to include me, but the true focus is my all-time favorite cabinets. Kerf Design, located in the Interbay neighborhood of Seattle, built them. The owner and designer, Nathan Hartman, is a sweet, quiet man with a remarkable, creative aesthetic. He designed the cabinets for my kitchen with function in mind, aiming for a sleek, modern look. The cabinets are constructed of one-inch maple laminate plywood. To brighten them up and add a sense of playfulness we added colorful laminate inserts. The farm-style open shelves work well for me. I appreciate being able to see where everything is and it forces me to be clean, like working in an open kitchen. I don’t think the cabinets could be more beautiful. Surprisingly they are far from the most expensive in their league. Initially, I worried about how they would hold up. I’ve seen plenty of home kitchens that look spectacular but don’t look like they were designed to get a lot of use. I knew mine would, and it has. The cabinets have held up beautifully. The magazine is on newsstands now, or you can check out the article here.

Leslie