Elise Landry wins “Chopped Next Gen”

As a contestant and winner on the first season of the Food Network’s show “Chopped Next Gen,” Elise Landry became the chef on everyone’s mind in Olympia almost overnight. Her new restaurant, Chicory, which she co-owns and runs with her husband Adam Wagner, went from just getting open to having to close down online orders to focus on in-restaurant diners in a time when most restaurants were struggling to make it during the COVID-19 health restrictions. 

“It’s been amazing. We’ve had such support from the community,” noted Landry when I caught up with her on a warm summer Monday watering the plants in the restaurant. “In a small, tight-knit town like Olympia, not only does everyone feel connected, but there is already a deep appreciation for sustainable and locally sourced food. We felt like we fit in.”

Growing up in Kansas City, Landry loved her upbringing and region, but wanted to be closer to nature. After a quick scouting trip to the PNW, the couple retrofitted a motorhome, drove West, and spent two summers working in restaurants on Orcas Island. The dream was to open a restaurant of their own and everything came into alignment just when the pandemic hit. 

The process of opening Chicory started long before the pandemic and included navigating new building owners, leases, small business loans, and lots of renovations. Landry shared that, for a while, every day began by watching YouTube demonstrations and learning by doing. From hanging drywall to replacing a water heater, they had to figure it out. “There was no turning back.”

Veterans of many restaurants and kitchens, Landry and Wagner see Chicory as a platform to talk about sustainability and food systems, but also to rewrite the rules and create a truly healthy work environment for staff. “We want to create a place where our staff feels respected and valued.” 

They are walking the talk. In addition to showing care by baking a staff member’s favorite cookie on their birthday, bigger changes have been made at Chicory. Instead of customers leaving tips for their individual server, a 20% service fee is added to the bill which is shared by all employees. This new norm shifts some of the financial inequities experienced by all staff in the restaurant industry and has become common practice in restaurants in major metropolitan centers like Seattle and San Francisco, but has yet to be more widely adopted. In addition, they will be offering a special class with a personal trainer to learn stretching exercises to help alleviate some of the physical stress created by restaurant work. “It’s important to encourage both physical and mental health for our staff,” noted Landry. 

As she finished up watering the plants, Landry paused. “We have amazing light in the restaurant in the mornings when we are closed. I can just imagine a floor of yoga mats and potentially offering wellness classes to others in the restaurant industry,” she said. It might be a dream right now, but this next-generation chef is about more than an amazing menu or time in the spotlight. With Chicory, she is here to change restaurants one small step at a time. Hilary Ryan

Team — CHICORY (chicoryrestaurant.com)

Olympia Brew Fest Cheers to Ten Years

Olympia Brew Fest is back for summer 2021! And they are drinking to ten years by featuring 20 incredible breweries with one fun party. 

The Fest’s first run was in 2010, so technically, last year would have been the decade mark. But due to the pandemic, they were forced to cancel, along with all other big Washington events. Thankfully, as restrictions lifted and the clouds of such a toiling year dissipated, the Brew Fest team could plan for their comeback and celebrate. 

As always, the festivities will be held at the Port Plaza in Olympia and guests can expect to feel the buzz of live music by popular, local talent, tasty food vendors, games and activities, such as a hula-hoop contest, the traditional Port Plaza Tower backdrop and beautiful waterfront views. What’s even better, this year, even more tents will be pitched to provide more comfort and to amplify the fun.  

For reasons on the side of precaution, Olympia Brew Fest is a little altered this year. In the past, attendance has reached over 2800, but this summer is limited to a slightly smaller number to allow some social distancing and the layout will be made more spacious. The scheduled hours are shorter and the normal number of 35 breweries will be reduced, to match the size of the crowd. 

Despite the changes and unknowns, there is no need to fret. Mike Marohn, the original organizer of Olympia Brew Fest, assures there are still good times and phenomenal beer to be had at the event.

 “[the Fest] is special because it’s all about the beer,” says Marohn. “We only do individual invitations to individual breweries, and we always taste the beer first. You need to make good beer, or you don’t get invited, period. We also always strive to give unique entertainment. For example, we once had a prince cover band and an Elvis impersonator. This year is a calypso band to get everybody in the right vibe.”

The Fest takes place August 7th, and tickets can be purchased online at their website, olybrewfest.com. Remember to get your tickets early to secure your spot at Port Plaza for quite the party, with good beer, good music and some serious fun.by Natalie Benson

Olympia Brew Fest (olybrewfest.com)

Crumbl Cookies: More than Just a Cookie

When you step inside of Crumbl Cookies, it feels as if you have stepped inside a secret bakery. The vibe is vivacious and magnetic. Cookie lovers can watch each step of the process at Crumbl: from bakers putting together top-shelf ingredients, to each crumbly cookie baking to perfection.

These mouthwatering cookies are definitely not just another cookie. Crumbl has perfected their cookie recipe over the years, and, based on the line out the door, they must have nailed it. They feature unique flavor combinations, such as Buckeye Brownie, Lemon Poppyseed, Biscoff, and Churro, along with classic crowd favorites like Milk Chocolate Chip and Chilled Sugar Cookie. Flavors rotate weekly, so there is always something fresh to get excited about. Also, as a bonus for the ice cream lovers out there, there is Crumbl Cream— the same extraordinary cookie flavors transformed into ice cream. With over 140 flavors, and the masterminds always working on new things, Crumbl lovers have plenty to look forward to.

Crumbl’s swanky pink boxes, easily personalized online, give guests an adorable gift option. Also, if you aren’t up for making the in-store visit, you don’t have to miss out on a cookie; Crumbl offers both curbside pick-up and delivery.

Owner Doug Clark stated that he has always done everything the “opposite of everyone else.” Doug is most excited about gaining customers with more than just a purchase, but rather with the experience. Crumbl strives to provide excellent customer service, and as they rapidly grow they are constantly improving their procedures to ensure customer satisfaction. In addition to the current Puyallup location, a new Crumbl Cookies location has just opened in in Bonney Lake.

If you’re ever in the area, be sure to enjoy the Crumbl cookie experience for yourself.

For Additional Information


Heritage Distilling Expands to Tumwater

Fans of the Heritage Distilling Company, Washington state’s largest independently owned craft distillery, have good reason to be excited this summer as their’s newest location, in Tumwater, Washington, celebrates its first week of business. Heritage Distilling’s building is shared with South Puget Sound Community College as part of the school’s Craft Brewing & Distilling program.

“We are thrilled that Heritage Distilling is part of the new Craft District in Tumwater. Together we are joining forces with South Puget Sound Community College to be the anchor tenants in this historic venture,” said Justin Stiefel, CEO of Heritage Distilling Co. “Tumwater holds a special place in the Northwest for its history of craft beverage production. It is only fitting that a world class craft production and training facility, working with the community college, helps to revitalize this proud tradition in Tumwater using its Artesian water source. Playing on the old tagline of the historic Olympia Beer, we believe ‘it’s still the water’,” Stiefel added. 

The reserved space is over 11,000 square feet, including production, distillery tasting room, the distillery’s patented Cask Club®, private event space, retail space, and an outdoor patio overlooking the Craft District’s outdoor amphitheater, which will host live concerts and events. The new Heritage Distilling facility was designed by fi architecture of Gig Harbor, with Darrin Filand overseeing all aspects of design and implementation. 

“We especially want to thank the City of Gig Harbor and its residents who have supported us since we opened nine years ago,” said Jennifer Stiefel, President and Co-Founder of Heritage Distilling. “We are certainly not leaving Gig Harbor; retail sales will contiue at HDC’s Waterfront tasting room, even as we grow this new location in Tumwater.”
Upon its full buildout, the Craft District will feature a production brewery and tap room, winery tasting rooms, a small craft producers’ market, the community college, restaurants, retail shops, commercial office space and an outdoor amphitheater. It is located in the shadow of the old Olympia Brewing facility along I-5 and overlooks the Deschutes River. For more information, visit the HDC website or the new Tumwater location from 12-7pm daily.

Raise a Glass with Jacques Pépin

This fall, Saint Martin’s welcomes French cooking legend Jacques Pépin and his daughter, Claudine Pépin, to the Saint Martin’s Gala on November 6, 2021. The Frenchborn, American chef has inspired generations as a gifted author, culinary educator, television personality and artist. Since the late 1980s, he has appeared on American television and has written for the New York Times, Food & Wine and other publications and has authored over 30 cookbooks.

After moving to the United States in 1959, Pépin first worked at Le Pavillon, a historic French restaurant in New York City. Jacques Pépin has received 16 James Beard Foundation Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. For the past 30 years, Pépin has taught in the Culinary Arts Program at Boston University.

Most recently, he has launched a fresh series of short videos, Jacques Pépin Cooking At Home, featuring short recipe videos that transform readily available ingredients into exciting new dishes, perfect for newly anointed home cooks and seasoned chefs alike.

“With our videos, we are now teaching techniques and courses around the country. We want to inspire people with a love of cooking and to show how simple techniques can help kids and adults enjoy their time in the kitchen,” says Pépin.

After this past year of spending time at home, Pépin is very excited to cook and savor French-inspired cuisine with attendees at the Gala. “I’m looking forward to cooking and sharing my love for food while raising a glass of wine at the Saint Martin’s Gala,” says Pépin. To raise your own glass on behalf of Saint Martin’s, students can enjoy an evening learning the art of French cooking with legend Jacque Pépin.

For Additional Information and Tickets


Alfresco Appetites in the South Sound

With the return of the glorious summer sun and a collective yearning for the chance to escape our homes and reconnect with family and friends, we are all looking for an opportunity to catch up over cocktails or celebrate special events with loved ones. Under patio umbrellas or nestled next to a table fire pit, favorite options for dining alfresco abound in the South Sound.


Tacoma boasts an array of restaurants that have amazing water views of Foss Waterway, Commencement Bay, and
the Salish Sea.

The Social Bar and Grill
Located next to the Museum of Glass, The Social Bar and Grill features American food and is perfect for dinners that go past dark with 9 tables featuring fire pits.

The Fish Peddler
With a large patio, The Fish Peddler offers seafood options with a casual and laid back attitude. You can also get fresh fish to prepare at home from their seafood counter.

Boathouse 19 and Narrows Brewing Company
Nestled next to the Narrows Bridge, you can take in amazing sunsets at Boathouse 19 and Narrows Brewing. in the South Sound

Gig Harbor

Just a quick trip across the Narrows Bridge will bring you to the waterfront restaurants in picturesque Gig Harbor.

NetShed No. 9
With stellar waterfront views, NetShed No. 9 is a great place for casual meetups. Make sure to check out the Ooey Gooey Skillet Cookie as a special treat to celebrate.

Morso Bistro
A cozy wine bar, Morso Bistro is a great place to unwind and relax while taking in stunning views of the Harbor.


Octapas Cafe
Next to Capitol Lake you can find the new Octapas Cafe which features Spanish tapas as well as extensive weekend brunch options.

Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar
Run by second generation oyster farmers, Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar offers a menu featuring organic, sustainably farmed oysters grown in the Eld and Totten Inlets of the Salish Sea.

Puyallup and Beyond

Farm 12
Located on a former family-run flower farm, Farm 12 Restaurant and Events is a farm-to-table restaurant that offers a menu made from scratch, often featuring locally grown items.

Toscanos Italian Grill
If you are looking for an upscale patio experience alfresco, look no further than Toscanos. Chef specials and signature cocktails round out a distinctly elevated dining experience.

The South Sound has an extensive array of alfresco dining opportunities where you can feel the summer sun or watch the waves. As always, please call to find out hours of operation and make reservations if needed.


Well 80 Brewhouse: A Place For Everyone

Well 80 Brewhouse was opened in 2016, drawing on the rich brewing history of Olympia and Leopold Schmidt.  Couple that with the excellent beer brewing water provided by Artesian wells found on the property and a proven local restauranteur in Chris Knudson and you have a recipe for success.

According to owner and Director of Operations, Knudson, “There are 50 or so brewpubs within driving distance from Olympia, so we knew we had to set ourselves apart with great food, served in a family friendly atmosphere.” He went on to say, “At Well 80, we pride ourselves on local hospitality and want our customers to enjoy the ambiance, staff and food equally.”  

Everybody can find a spot at Well 80.  The restaurant and brewhouse easily accommodates 20-somethings out on the town but, also a 40-year old parent. Knudson said, “I am a parent of two children six and eight and I wanted to build a place where families could go and the adults could still enjoy themselves with a great beer and delicious food.”

Surviving during a pandemic took some help from PPE loans and grants, as well tapping into the resiliency of Knudson’s other two well established Casa Mia restaurants. As a new restaurant Well 80 faced higher overhead and a newer customer base. Knudson and his team got creative with their take-out menus and offered delivery. 

Outdoor seating played an expanded role which will likely be utilized year-round. The existing front sidewalk patio with heaters saw the addition of clear curtains that enclosed the area and blocked out the weather creating a toasty greenhouse effect. And, now the Alley seating is larger and has heaters. The huge roll up doors at the front of the restaurant are wide open everyday rain or shine, where tables are spaced out and the high ceilings allow for lots of air flow.

Located in downtown Olympia, Well 80 Brewhouse is open with indoor and outdoor seating, plus takeout at 514 4th Avenue East. Watch for special take-out Brown Bag Sunday events for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other special dates throughout the summer.

You can check out their delicious menu and their “Well Made Beer” at http://well80.com/

Toscanos reopens with a fresh dining experience

Toscanos in Puyallup has always provided an exceptional dining experience and, after several weeks of remodeling, they are reopening with a beautiful, modern expanded bar with double the seating in the dining room and a new wine tower that will showcase Toscanos’s vast wine collection.

Along with the newly-updated space, Toscanos is adding fresh new offerings to the menu. Chef Cole Aker-Inabnit explains, “We are excited to offer new menu items, craft cocktails and happy hour menus, while focusing on supporting small businesses in the community and providing an elevated menu focused on clean, simple ingredients.”  For example, Toscanos hired a local artist to craft bread boards for their new bread presentation that features locally sourced loaves. 

Toscanos loves to see the smiling faces of guests again! “My parents both loved to cook,” says Chef Cole, “and we were always in the kitchen and I enjoy sharing that passion for food with each guest. We want to make each guest welcome and comfortable.”

“The community has been a great support to us and we want to continue to give back,” says owner Sue Walker. “We have been able to ‘give back’ every Monday during the shutdown and we provided meals to first responders, nurses, fire fighters and local heroes. In 16 years, we have donated nearly 1 million dollars to the community.”

The restaurant plans to continue expansion with a new, heated, year-round outdoor atrium which will expand the establishment’s footprint. Phase two construction will begin in the fall with plans to complete the project in spring 2022.  For a fresh new experience and to celebrate, connect and enjoy the pleasures of life, reserve your table at toscanospuyallup.com or call (253) 864-8600.

Amp Your Health with Greens This Spring

As leaves begin to unfurl, spring can be a great reminder to take a moment to get reconnected with the natural world and recommit to personal self-care. One of the best ways to assist your health, and especially your immune system, is by being more mindful of your diet. Here in the South Sound, the abundance of farmers markets makes finding local, fresh, and whole foods incredibly easy.

Spring brings an explosion of green to the produce offered by farmers. The array of greens will include familiar favorites such as chard, kale, lettuce, sorrel, and spinach, but also the more unusual fiddleheads and nettles. Expand your use of greens from the salad and try some cooked greens. After eating them a few times, you will quickly find out why cooked greens are part of such a variety of cuisines from China to France to India. With a short cooking time, versatility, unique flavors and important nutritional benefits, greens can become a regular part of healthy eating either on their own or nestled in other dishes. Here are some ways to try spring greens:

  • Saute greens until tender in a large pot with olive oil, salt and garlic or onion. Add additional flavor with a dot of butter or cream along with seasonal herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Add sliced kale to soups and stews during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.
  • Toss some chopped fresh greens into a smoothie.
  • Increase the nutritional power in your breakfast by sautéing chopped greens and garlic before you add eggs for scrambling.

Farmers will also be offering leeks, potatoes, rhubarb, and sprouts among their spring bounty. Eating fresh whole foods can be cleansing and enlivening for your body after the limited choices of winter eating which often includes more processed foods. With an extensive history of family farming, the communities of the South Sound have been growing crops for decades. Today you can find markets throughout Tacoma, as well as in Puyallup, Lakewood, Gig Harbor, and Olympia. It can be a fun family outing to go visit a new farmers market to explore new vendors, neighborhoods, and parks. So don’t be deterred by the spring rains and plan a trip to a farmers market today.

For Additional Information
Lakewood Farmers Market | City of Lakewood

Olympia Farmers Market

Tacoma Farmers Markets

Gig Harbor Waterfront Farmers Market

Puyallup Farmers Market | Puyallup Main Street Association


Delicious Take-Out – Just Add Park Bench

The sun’s shining. The park is waiting.
And you’ve earned a treat.
It’s time for some good take-out.
In no particular order — bon appétit!

Crockett’s Public House, with locations in both Puyallup and Maple Valley, offers scratch-made food with a laid-back vibe. Regulars praise its grilled cheese sandwich and tomato bisque, or try the made-to-order chowder and kale caesar salad.

Crudo & Cotto at 2717 North Proctor Street, Tacoma, features mouthwatering appetizers, seafood, a variety of entrees and desserts. “Crudo” means “raw or almost,” and “cotto” is “cooked.” Fresh, complex food includes ingredients like ostrich, marinated carpaccio (red-wine marinated beef dry-cured for 90 days) and hamachi (a raw fish preparation, dressed with olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice, arugula and radish).

Just up the hill from Tacoma’s Ruston Way amenities is Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant at 5101 North Pearl Street. This family-owned restaurant features authentic Italian food and wine. Diners rave about the house-made focaccia bread and mouth-watering pasta entrees loaded with fresh seafood.

For a quick grab-and-go, just up the road, Central Co-op at 4502 N Pearl St in Tacoma is perfect for a bite on the way to Point Defiance Park, the Ruston waterfront or Vashon ferry. The community-owned grocery store focuses on local vendors and organic, healthy food. Check out the in-house taqueria bar and huge selection of kombucha and regional brews.

Indochine is a feast for your senses, nestled in the heart of a great Northwest cultural center. The flavors of Thailand, China, India, Japan, and Vietnam meld together to produce a wonderful culinary palette that is sure to impress your and your guests’ tastes. To finish your meal, select one of Indochine’s desserts, all of which are made in-house, such as one of their many gelato flavors, Crème Brûlée, Lemon Coconut Cake, or their Nemesis Flourless Chocolate Cake.

At Chicory, the Northwest meets New Orleans. At 111 Columbia Street NW, Olympia, the focus is on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and natural wine. Try the fried oyster banh mi sandwich, and who can leave behind powered-sugar dusted beignets?

Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar at 222 Capitol Way North incorporates their own locally farmed oysters, clams and geoducks into their specialty seafood dishes. Grab a pound of steamed clams and garlic bread or fish and chips and beet salad and make your own picnic.