(Title: Armandino Batali quoting Angelo Pellegrini)

Last night's Seattle Weekly Food Awards reception, held at Volterra's new restaurant-adjacent private event space, saw a room full

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Make of Your Stomach a Warehouse

(Title: Armandino Batali quoting Angelo Pellegrini)

Last night's Seattle Weekly Food Awards reception, held at Volterra's new restaurant-adjacent private event space, saw a room full of those who have and will make future awards possible. Roger Downey made a great point when speaking about Sustainability Award winner Mark Musick, that biggest stars aren't often the ones with the heftiest PR budget, but the ones who quietly knit a strong bond between consumers and farmers, food and eaters, restaurateurs and local ingredients. The quiet successes of the attendees in the room are directly responsible for the large successes and general notoriety enjoyed today by Seattle's restaurant scene and its elevated profile amid the national dining culture.

2006 Pellegrini Award winner Jon Rowley -- he who has made a most formidable effort to put Washington seafood on the map -- introduced 2008 Pellegrini Award recipient Armandino Batali (a no brainer for any Salumi fans, as well as this year's judges). Batali was as gracious and affable as those devotees of Salumi know him to be, and ready with a speech. Along with a handout. Batali photocopied a 1982 article from the Seattle Weekly--an in depth piece on Angelo Pellegrini and his life--to pass around to the crowd. From the article he shared his favorite quotes, and his personal feelings on Pellegrini's philosophy and legacy. Eyes teared, friends laughed, and the spirit of the evening was captured in this moment.

I was honored to meet Sustainability Award winner Mark Musick. He was sustainable before sustainable was cool, a one man aggregator of information and contacts on sustainability, organics, and green business who helped develop the Tilth Association. I chatted with his wife, about their wedding compost experiment. The spirit of camaraderie and old friendships segued into a nod to the future and this year's Innovation Award winners, Phred Westfall and Laurie Riedeman of Elemental at Gasworks. When accepting the award, Westfall graciously said how wonderful and challenging it is to push boundaries, especially when guided by the successes and examples set by such chefs as Le Gourmand's Bruce and Sara Naftaly, who were also in attendance.

The hors d'oeuvres provided by Volterra and owners Michelle Quisenberry and Don Curtiss were fabulous, including a squash shortbread I could eat by the pound (dressed with mascarpone, fried prosciutto and walnut), silky polenta flan filled with fontina and topped with mushroom jus, and a chestnut honey panna cotta in just the right celebratory size. The spread was ample, which was a good thing--I spied more than a few people, like I, who could barely control themselves from hoarding.

Question: (and apologies to the Polish) How do you improve on a pierogi? Answer: If you're Italian-minded, or chef Curtiss, you put the velvety rich potato puree inside a butter-packed, flaky pastry with fresh chevre on top. The best cocktail appetizer I've had all year.

Photos:

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Armandino Batali

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Phred Westfall and Laurie Riedeman of Elemental@Gasworks

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Jon Rowley and Mark Musick

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Guests at the awards reception

 
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