“The Taste Cooks!” Celebrates Local Chefs with Taste of Tacoma

Take a look inside a professional chef’s kitchen at The Taste Cooks!, presented by Albert Lee Appliance, on the weekend of June 21 through 23, 2019, at the Point Defiance Park!

Some of Tacoma’s best and most entertaining chefs are in the lineup to compete in high-energy mystery ingredient cook-offs and culinary demonstrations The Taste Cooks! showcases new chefs each day, with participants eager to show their delicious handpicked recipes and their quick-thinking in the cook-offs.

The Taste Cooks! features even more mystery cook-offs this year. Competing chefs will be given only half an hour to create a masterpiece from three mystery ingredients, a basic pantry, and a large selection of produce, kindly donated by Charlie’s Produce.

Members of the audience get a chance to participate also: three lucky guests will judge the chefs’ dishes on a criteria including their creative use of ingredients, presentation, tastiness, and overall entertainment. The winning chef will be announced live and will receive a $100 donation in their name towards the charity of their choice. Several charities benefited from last year’s winners, including the Ronald McDonald House, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the Emergency Food Network.

Return crowd favorites Jon Maley (ChūcH), Saffron Hodgson “The Aussie” (bushcooking.com), Hudson Slater (Asado Cucina), and Shawn Tibbitts (Tibbitts@FernHill) will be competing on The Taste Cooks! this year. New to the show are welcomed Jan Parker (Jan Parker Cookery), Brittany Erwin (Cooks Tavern), Kris Blondin (Devour), and more!

Another level of excitement and culinary expertise is brought to The Taste Cooks! through second-year emcee Chef Thierry Rautureau, a.k.a. “The Chef in The Hat.”

This event is free to attend, and guests are offered early-bird discounted food and beverage options to experience the best of the Taste of Tacoma®. Some options offered are the Experience Taste Package, which includes Craft Beer & Wine Tasting + Taste It! Food Tickets, and the new Taste It! Food Only Package. The weekend of June 21-23 is sure to be an exciting showcase of local chefs and fantastic food with the Taste of Tacoma®!

For the full line up of The Taste Cooks! demonstrations and cook-offs, or for other Taste of Tacoma® event details, head to www.tasteoftacoma.com.

MARTINA PRESTON

A Taste of Mediterranean Sunshine

Experience the fresh flavors of the Mediterranean at Gertie and the Giant Octopus. Drawing on the cuisines of Italy, France and Spain, this intimate restaurant in Gig Harbor enables you to experience a wide range of seasonal small plates.

The origin of this endeavor was one of happenstance and good fortune. After working as a chef consultant, Robert DeLaura came upon a notice of a cupcake business that was closing. He made a proposal to the owners to transform the space into a bistro and bar. Now Gertie and the Giant Octopus is celebrating its third year of success.

For people unfamiliar with the restaurant’s offerings, Chef Robert, as DeLaura is known, is full of suggestions that sound delicious. “We do a brown butter chicken that is first dipped in Parmesan cheese and egg, then pan-fried and roasted in the oven completely submerged in butter. It’s served with browned butter and lemon sauce.

Our most popular small plate,” DeLaura continues, “is our champignon di Paris.” He explains that this is mushrooms sautéed in extra virgin olive oil. Then leeks, garlic, Spanish sherry wine and cream are added. Finally, the dish is finished with a pecorino al tartufo. This is an Italian sheep’s milk cheese with black truffles in it “to further enhance the mushroom earthiness,” says DeLaura.

Spring brings a wide variety of fresh produce, such as asparagus and morel mushrooms that will be featured in many dishes. Mache, the first tender spring greens, will be dressed with a simple blend of white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and hazelnut oil for a lovely spring salad.

The new season will bring other new offerings at Gertie and the Giant Octopus. Well-known for its unique wine menu, the restaurant and its sommelier, Inez Staley, will be putting together a curriculum for wine lovers to gain more knowledge and appreciation.

HILLARY RYAN

For Additional Information

chefrobertdelaura.weebly.com

Best Places to Brunch in South Sound

We all love brunch, right? You get to sleep in and then enjoy tasty food prepared by someone else. And cocktails are practically a requirement! Add hanging out with friends or family and you simply can’t beat it.

From laid-back greasy spoons and quaint cafés to upscale restaurants serving tantalizing brunch buffets, here are a few of our favorite breakfast and brunch places around the South Sound.

Tacoma

The Lobster Shop

This legendary Sunday brunch serves up a delicious and impressive buffet with a seafood slant that is sure to please. Reservations are a good idea.

C.I. Shenanigans

Often themed, Shenanigans’ Sunday buffets feature an array of seafood and meats at carving stations, an oyster bar, as well as freshly made desserts. Reservations are a good idea.

Art House Café

Located in the historic Stadium District, the Art House Cafe exemplifies the essence of scratch-made American cuisine, exploring the bounty of the Pacific Northwest with an ingredient driven menu.

Pacific Grill

Relatively new to brunch, Pacific Grill offers some of the most mouth watering menu items in town, as well as some of the best brunch drinks.

Olympia

Hart’s Mesa

Fresh, thoughtfully created and prepared Southwest-inspired dishesare on offer, along with mimosas made with fresh squeezed juice. Tables come equipped with Trivial Pursuit so you can challenge your guests to a friendly game while awaiting your food!

The Mouse Trap

At this hidden gem, pop-up brunch is served on Sundays with seatings at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Every week is an all new chef’s prix fixe menu and it just might be the best brunch you’ve ever eaten. Reservations are required.

Sumner

The Windmill Bistro

This casual restaurant adjacent to Windmill Gardens Nursery in Sumner offers a relaxed dining experience, and the menu focuses on Pacific Northwest cuisine.

Puyallup

Crockett ’s Public House

Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, the hearty breakfast here is made from fresh, high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. Everything is prepared in house and cooked to order from original recipes.

Be sure to check out the Puyallup-focused Mad Libs on the kids menu—pure fun!

Gig Harbor

Netshed No. 9

You can’t beat this waterfront patio—the hanging baskets of flowers and pet-friendly seating are lovely. The menu, with unique twists that are really good, makes it not your average breakfast spot.

Devoted Kiss Cafe

Breakfasts here are nicely presented, service is friendly, prices are reasonable, and the view is fantastic.

The Meridian Café has Re-Opened

More than a year after a roof fire forced its closure, Meridian Café is open for business. A perennial breakfast-and-lunch spot in downtown Puyallup, the surrounding communities are thrilled their beloved cafe is back open for breakfast and lunch.

Owner Shaun Brobak said there was never a doubt he would reopen – thanks in great part to the people of his community. Opening day saw a steady stream of old and new customers walking through the doors.

As is often the case with old buildings, reconstruction proved challenging. Brobak took this opportunity from the fire to reassess the restaurant’s needs and make improvements.  “Reconstruction after the fire gave us the opportunity to bring back the Café in a BIG WAY. New modern kitchen, a larger dining room, a new private banquet space and larger bathrooms, says Brobak.”

“The dining room has been updated, too,” said Brobak. He added new floors and the walls showcase old photos of historic Puyallup. Plastered walls artfully surround the brickwork preserved from the original building.  You will experience the charm of this historical building the moment you walk through the doors.

He also focused on comfortable and additional seating. Custom, hand crafted booths, similar to those at Brobak’s other business, Crockett’s Public House in downtown Puyallup, were added. The redesigned dining room ended up making room for an additional 20 patrons.   

As for the menu, with the new larger and more modern kitchen and grill, they will offer additional menu selections. “We’ve reopened with the classic menu we’ve always had and will let our guests tell us what they’d like to see on the menu. We have the capacity to introduce more items, with the same attention to quality we’re known for,” Brobak said.

Cafés have been a part of American life for more than 140 years and we know why. Few foods are comforting in quite the same way as scratch made cafe food. If you haven’t dined at Meridian Cafe lately, stop in and  to enjoy a wholesome, made-from-scratch breakfast or lunch. Bring your appetite, portions are generous, food is fresh and delicious.
Kelly Lenihan

Meridian Café – open every day 6am – 3pm for breakfast and lunch
213 N Meridian, Puyallup WA 98371
t: (253) 435-8833
crockettspublichouse.com/meridian-cafe.  
facebook.com/meridiancafepuyallup/  

Mama Stortini’s to Open New Location


An old local favorite restaurant is getting a fourth brand-new location this May. Veteran restaurateur Roger Stilson is bringing his popular Mama Stortini’s Restaurant and Bar to Federal Way. This well-loved restaurant offers an extensive full-service food and beverage selection in all of their locations.

“We are excited to bring Mama’s Italian favorites to Federal Way,” Stilson says. “The area near the Commons is brimming with dining, shopping and entertainment choices, and we think our menu of authentic Italian and Northwest flavors will be popular. Mama’s is owned and operated here in the Puget Sound – and bringing Western Washington guests a wonderful local restaurant is important to us.” Stilson goes on to say, “Whether someone wants to drop in for happy hour on their way home, or enjoy date or family night out, our staff works hard to create an exceptional food and service experience.”

Specialty Restaurant Group opened the first Mama Stortini’s in Puyallup in 2004, followed by a Kent location in 2009, and more recently Seattle, at the Northgate Mall, in 2014. “Federal Way along 320th has become the area’s favorite retail and entertainment destination,” says Stilson. He describes Mama Stortini’s as “a go-anytime, order-anything restaurant featuring Italian favorites made with local ingredients.” The casual and comfortable ambiance with rich Northwest design accents and the large bar is perfect for “drop-in snack dining, lively socializing, and watching sporting events.”

Food and Beverage Director Derek Stewart describes Mama’s menu as “featuring familiar Italian classics with a creative Northwest influence.” The restaurant/bar duo has proven to be very popular by offering a wide range of choices at affordable prices.

Federal Way’s own Mayor Jim Ferrell also anticipates the new restaurant. “We’re excited to welcome Mama Stortini’s to Federal Way,” Ferrell says. “We look forward to enjoying an Italian and Northwest favorite restaurant in our community and giving our residents one more outstanding choice for their dining needs.”

Mama Stortini’s is opening a fourth location in Federal Way this coming May, and we are likewise excited to enjoy the timeless options and great prices they have to offer!

Texas de Brazil

When you walk into Texas Brazil’s brand new Tacoma location you notice the swanky, striking ambiance. Texas Brazil offer a rodizio-style dining experience, and unique blend of Brazilian culture with generous Texas hospitality.

The vibrantly decorated 5,500 square foot restaurant offers 105 seats and a unique dining experience. Featuring an open-grill kitchen, an expansive salad area, an intimate lounge, and an award-winning wine cellar, Texas de Brazil is a unique dining destination for large and small parties alike.

“We are pleased to introduce our distinct dining experience to local area and we look forward to celebrating with our guest in Tacoma,” says Carlos Restrepo, Corporate Training Manager of Texas de Brazil.  “We want to make it an uplifting experience where guests feel the beauty of the Brazilian fare and genuine service,” he adds.

At Texas de Brazil, the rodizio-style meal begins with a visit to the expansive fresh salad area that also includes hot and cold side specialty dishes. The variety includes artisan breads, imported cheeses, fresh buffalo mozzarella, steamed asparagus with marmalade sauce, Brazilian hearts of palm, spicy shrimp salad, sushi, sautéed mushrooms, feijoada (black beans), jasmine rice, Moqueca (Brazilian Coconut Fish Stew), lobster bisque and much more. Even vegetarians love this steakhouse.

For the main course, carvers expertly prepare mouthwatering cuts of meat grilled to perfection over natural wood charcoal – a gaucho tradition passed down through generations. When guests flip a two-sided disc located at each seat from red to green, gauchos parade by and carve tableside slow-roasted meats including Brazilian picanha (sirloin), lamb chops, filet mignon, leg of lamb, Parmesan-crusted pork loin, bacon wrapped chicken breast and more. When a break is needed from the unending flow of mouthwatering meats, guests simply turn discs back to red. This unique style of dining helps pace the experience to fit any timeframe. 

The expertly curated wine collection complements the varied menu with varietals from acclaimed California and South America vineyards to Texas de Brazil’s exclusive private label selection bottled in Chile. The lounge offers craft cocktails including the traditional Brazilian Caipirinha in a variety of flavors and a full selection of specialty cocktails, beer and soft drinks including the Brazilian Guarana.

Classic desserts served a la carte include Brazilian flan, deliciously rich Brazilian papaya cream and Brazilian Cheesecake plus sweet specialties such as pecan pie, carrot cake, and key lime pie.

Texas Brazil knows how to take care of guest and offers  a high level of hospitality. If you are hosting a party or special occasion they should be at the top of your list.

Texas de Brazil Churracaria

is located at the Tacoma Mall,

4502 S. Steele Street, Tacoma

253-465-3230 or visit www.texasdebrazil.com

10 Favorite Washington Wines

Some of the best Washington state wines have been described as having the structure and finesse of the Old World while displaying the flashy and ripe fruit of the New World. We’re pleased to present our third annual list of favorite Washington wines—perfect for sharing with friends and family this holiday season.

DeLille Cellars
delillecellars.com
Malbec, Red Willow Vineyard, 2015
Nearly opaque in color, redolent of blueberry, licorice and eucalyptus, with plenty of energetic acidity and fresh fruit flavors to complement its complex tannic framework.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars
alexandrianicolecellars.com
Affinity Albariño, Columbia Valley, 2017
Laden with gorgeous notes of Meyer lemon and lime zest, it leaves just enough room for the nuances of fresh-cut nectarine and orange blossom to shine through.

Col Solare
colsolare.com
Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, 2015
Aromas of black cherry, berry and dark chocolate fuse with smooth notes of vanilla and spice, finished with the long lingering flavors of cocoa, black fruits and anise.

Gramercy Cellars
gramercycellars.com
Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, 2014
Red flowers with a combination of red and black fruit, gravel and tobacco—a perfect balance of Old World finesse, liveliness and earth with New World fruit and power.

Gamache Vintners
gamachevintners.com
Estate Boulder Red, Columbia Valley, 2015
Tasty, toasty and tart, this table-ready blend is entirely estate-grown. Dark cherries on the nose with delicious flavors of raspberries and spices to complement this unique blend of varietals.

Brian Carter Cellars
briancartercellars.com
Corrida (Spanish for “bullfight”), Columbia Valley, 2014
Tobacco, licorice and black cherry dominate in this exotic Spanish blend, followed by elegant, streamlined fruit flavors.

Garrison Creek Cellars
garrisoncreekcellars.com
Malbec, Les Collines Vineyard,
Walla Walla Valley, 2013
A brilliant bouquet of dark fruits dance on the palate with subtle hints of vanilla and spices on the finish.

Kiona Vineyards
kionawine.com
Estate-Bottled Riesling, Red Mountain, 2014
This bottling uses fruit from the winery’s original 1975 plantings. Aromas of jasmine, flowers and lime lead to off-dry, lightly spritzy, stonefruit flavors that linger.

Lauren Ashton Cellars
laurenashtoncellars.com
Proprietor’s Cuvée, Columbia Valley AVA, 2011
A dark and luxurious blend whose depth and complexity echoes aromatics of black currants, black cherries, plum and cocoa, with a hint of spiciness and a touch of minerality.

Matthews Winery
matthewswinery.com
Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, 2017
Rich but bracing, ripe and chewy, with plenty of bright acidity on the finish. Lots of tropical notes—pineapple, guava, mango, grapefruit—with a touch of lime or creamy lemon.

Restaurants Serving up a Date Night

When you need to get that special night right, sharing a delicious meal is a universal rite of courtship at any stage of a relationship. Whether celebrating a significant occasion or simply connecting over a flirty dinner, these South Sound restaurants shine at setting the table for romance.

KELLY LENIHAN

Ruston Way

Harbor Lights
2761 North Ruston Way
253.752.8600
anthonys.com/restaurants/detail/harbor-lights
Renowned for its colossal portions of seafood and picture-perfect views of Commencement Bay, this waterfront delight has been home to hundreds of proposals and anniversaries.

Lobster Shop
4015 Ruston Way
253.759.2165
lobstershop.com
A South Sound favorite, the restaurant’s stunning waterfront view, fresh seafood and tasty cocktails serve up the perfect backdrop for date night.

WildFin American Grill
5115 Grand Loop
253.267.1772
wildfinamericangrill.com
An elegant restaurant with a romantic view of Commencement Bay provides the ideal setting for a casual, yet elevated dining experience—a sublime feast for the senses.

Tacoma

Citron European Bistro
10716 A St
253.212.1153
citron.restaurantwebexpert.com
Classic French dishes served alongside European and German gems provide a wonderful dining experience.

El Gaucho Tacoma
2119 Pacific Ave
253.272.1510
elgaucho.com
A classy restaurant with a swanky speakeasy vibe complete with a pianist playing quietly in the background. Many of the desserts are showstoppers.

Over the Moon Café
709 Court C
253.284.3722
overthemooncafe.net
This award-winning restaurant serves up a fine dining experience in an atmosphere of understated elegance.

The Cliff House
6300 Marine View Dr
253.927.0400
cliffhousetacoma.com
An elegant dining room with panoramic views.

The Table
2715 6th Ave
253.327.1862
thetabletacoma.com
A sublime dining experience paying homage to the rich culinary history of the Pacific Northwest.

Gig Harbor

JW Restaurant
4107 Harborview Dr
253.858.3529
jwgigharbor.com
JW offers an exceptional dining experience in which no detail is overlooked and southern hospitality prevails. This small, intimate eatery is a seven-time Best of the South Sound winner.

Puyallup

Marzano Italian Restaurant
516 Garfield St S
253.537.4191
dinemarzano.com
Classic Italian dishes in a lovely, romantic setting.

Toscanos Italian Grill
437 29th St NE
253.864.8600
toscanospuyallup.com
Fresh from the farm, vineyard and sea, dishes are simply prepared and served with style.

Olympia

Gardner’s
111 Thurston Ave NW
360.786.8466
gardnersrestaurant.com
A quaint historical building replete with rustic hardwood floors, exposed beams and its famous stained glass window serve to create an intimate setting just right for a romantic dinner.

Well 80 – Olympia’s Hottest New Brewery

Well 80 Artesian Brewing Company opened its doors March 19 in downtown Olympia. Complete with a restaurant and a 10-barrel brewing system, Well 80 is a brewery and brewpub built on the site of one of Olympia’s famous artesian wells. In addition to tasty craft beers, Well 80 serves pizza, burgers and sandwiches, all with a unique twist, in its all-ages restaurant.

Co-owner Chris Knudson is enthused by revitalization efforts bringing a new sense of excitement to downtown Olympia. He also points to a number of craft breweries in the area that have surfaced in the past few years. Three Magnets Brewing, Matchless Brewing and Top Rung Brewing are joining local staple Fish Brewing Company.

“Olympia’s history is built on beer,” Knudson says. “There’s a growing brewing community here and we’re happy to be part of it.”

Knudson is speaking of Leopold Schmidt, a politician and brewer from Montana, who traveled to Olympia in 1895 to observe construction of the Washingtonstate capitol. After being introduced to Olympia’s artesian water, he proclaimed, “With this water, I can brew better beer than ever!” The next year, at the foot of Tumwater Falls, the Olympia Brewing Company was born. Its beer was made with water from the artesian wells made famous by the slogan “It’s the Water.”

At Well 80, all of its “Well Made” beers are brewed in-house by experienced brewers. The company also features a series of rotating guest taps supporting the local brewing community. You might find Triceratops Pennsyltucky Lager, Cascadia Elderberry Porter, or Whitewood Cider Co. Olivia Newtown-Jonathan cider blend.

Well 80’s goal is to follow in the footsteps of Leopold Schmidt, Paul Knight and all the other pioneers that made great beer from some of the best water in the world.

KELLY LENIHAN

For Additional Information
Well 80 Artesian Brewing
514 Fourth Ave E, Olympia
360.915.6653
well80.com

Up Your Culinary Game With a Cooking Class

Have you thought about how many meals you prepare for your family each week? Or how you pull off preparing tasty, healthy meals week after week without any formal training? Whether you’re a novice or an experienced home cook, if you’ve dreamed about upping your culinary game, why not take a cooking class and impress the loved ones gathered around your table!

Bayview School of Cooking
Located at Bayview Thriftway, BSC offers a tantalizing array of culinary classes for adults and children. The emphasis is on the fresh flavors from the Pacific Northwest and other ethnic flavors from around the world. In addition to its own team of instructors, BSC invites regional chefs, cookbook authors and restaurateurs to guestteach. Its specialty, multicourse dinners with wine/beer pairings, are a real treat.
Bayview School of Cooking
516 West Fourth Ave, Olympia
360.754.1448
bayviewschoolofcooking.com

Metro Parks Tacoma STAR Center
Among other amenities, South Tacoma’s Activity and Recreation Center has kitchen facilites perfect for hands-on cooking classes. The focus is on teaching family-friendly recipes and techniques. Classes are usually limited to 15 attendees, and community members can receive a discount by purchasing a STAR pass.
Metro Parks Tacoma STAR Center
3873 South 66th St, Tacoma
253.305.1022
metroparkstacoma.org/cooking-nutrition

Toscanos Italian Grill
Chef Tom Pantley serves up a demonstration-style cooking class and dinner at Toscanos every other month or so. He covers a variety of cooking techniques and styles to help attendees acquire the skills to increase their enjoyment of cooking for friends and family. Cooking classes include a four course dinner, wine sample, recipes and instruction. Chef Tom has been staging these entertaining, informative classes for over 25 years.
Toscanos Italian Grill
437 29th St NE, Puyallup
253.864.8600
toscanospuyallup.com

Ready to add new recipes to your regular meal repertoire and learn how to prepare delicious foods for every occasion? Choose a class that meets your interests and let’s get cooking!

KELLY LENIHAN