Members of the Chefs Collaborative, a national network of sustainability-minded culinary professionals, will start showing up in Seattle this weekend for the organization's three-day annual summit. Since it's a good bet the participants will come hungry, we've put together a short suggested itinerary of local ultra-green meals to complement the session schedule.
As previous visitors to Seattle have no doubt discovered, it's hard to avoid eating responsibly here. Many of the city's great restaurants are admirably serious about their commitment to the land, seas and people who work them. There are fabulous vegetarian options everywhere (including at the estimable Madison Park Conservatory, which is celebrating Meatless Monday this week with a menu including pink lentils and emmer.)
But a few restaurants stand out for their dedication to bettering the food system. While there are many other wonderful places to eat in Seattle (for a taste, have a gander at our Best Of winners and 100 Favorite Dishes list), these restaurants ought to be especially interesting to the Chefs Collaborative crowd:
Saturday, Late-night snack
The second restaurant from James Beard Foundation award-winning chef Maria Hines - who earlier this year participated in the foundation's inaugural Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change - Golden Beetle was the third restaurant in the U.S. to receive organic certification from Oregon Tilth. The pan-Mediterranean menu features an array of little plates of cocktails perfect for travelers bedraggled from cross-country travel. Don't miss the beef-fat fries.
The communal dining style at David Sanford's earnest Belle Clementine may have its detractors, but nobody would dare question the chef's buying practices. Sanford works closely with area farmers, finding creative and delicious uses for their oddest produce. It's not uncommon to share a table with one of his suppliers. Best of all, Belle Clementine is located on the same street as Ballard's mighty Sunday farmers market, widely considered the city's best. Chefs Collaborative attendees looking for additional afternoon activities in the neighborhood might also consider dropping by the Sustainable Ballard festival.
Sunday, Oyster break
As Chefs Collaborative speaker Barton Seaver is fond of saying, it's Americans' patriotic duty to eat domestic farmed shellfish. There's no better place to do so in Seattle than the year-old retail outlet of Taylor Shellfish Farms, the region's top producer of clams, oysters, mussels and geoducks. If you snag a table in the shop, Taylor's talented shuckers will prepare a trayful of magnificent bivalves to accompany your glass of Washington wine.
Taylor is situated on a strip that's lately become the city's culinary powerhouse. Turn left when you leave, and you're at Melrose Market, home to Matt Dillon's remarkable Sitka & Spruce, The Calf & Kid artisan cheese shop and Rain Shadow Meats. Turn right, and you've reached Terra Plata, Tamara Murphy's terrific "earth to plate" restaurant. The seat to score is on the new rooftop deck, where you'll be surrounded by the garden from which Murphy plucks her inspiration.
Mashiko recently celebrated its third anniversary as a fully-sustainable sushi bar, a species that's exceedingly rare even in coastal cities where eaters worry about the oceans. ""The bottom line is it's not about why I did it, but why everybody is not doing it," says owner Hajime Sato, winner of the 2012 Voracious Sustainability Award.