Chef Mark Bodinet got his start in one of the coolest kitchens on the planet, working for Thomas Keller at the French Laundry in Napa Valley. His commitment to using local, seasonal ingredients continues at Copperleaf, the restaurant at Cedarbrook Lodge. Where the heck is that? A sustainable sort of destination dining spot down near SeaTac. But don't think asphalt and strip malls. This little slice of paradise is on 18 acres of restored wetlands.
SW: You have an amazing resume. How do you go from working at the French Laundry to a place that's way under the radar near the airport?
Mark: It's not about the location, more importantly it's about who you are. Anything can be achieved anywhere, it all depends on the determination of the team to execute a concept.
SW: It's true there are incredible opportunities in this region to work closely with the people who grow the food. Why is that so important?
Mark: The Northwest provides some of the most beautiful products anywhere, from meats, cheeses, fish and produce. It's the relationship with the farmers and other artisans that really allow us to connect with our guest. The farmers are the stars and the story of where the product originated is also special. To have information about the artisans and their products, our guests are able to connect on a personal level to the region which in turn leads to the sustainability of the Pacific Northwest.
SW: Doesn't it become a huge challenge to do the farm to table thing in the winter? A person can only eat so much squash!
Mark: It is a challenge in the winter months, but there are many items, other than just squash, that are grown in this region and we work hard with our local producers to provide us with great items all year long.
SW: Did you read the story in The Atlantic Monthly about how Wal-Mart is jumping on the eat local bandwagon and actually having an impact?
Mark: I think that it's a great idea that larger companies are trying to incorporate responsible and sustainable food practices in their business. If it's a truly responsible model then I'm all for it.
Check back for part two of this week's Grillaxin Q&A for more from chef Mark Bodinet.