The Seattle Food Establishment: Second Annual List

The 50 most powerful players in Seattle's food scene, plus one to watch.

One to Watch!
Patrick Dempsey

Owner, Global Baristas LLC and Tully’s Coffee

Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: This year, the Grey’s Anatomy actor made his fictional relationship with Seattle real, making bigger news than the downtown sinkhole in Season 8 by inserting himself into our city’s food establishment: His investment group outbid Starbucks to acquire the locally based flailing underdog coffee chain, Tully’s, for $9.15 million. Employees: 380;

50. Patrick O’Donnell
Cofounder, Urbanspoon
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: Along with cofounders Adam Doppelt and Ethan Lowry (who left the company in 2010, after it was sold to InterActive Corp), this software maverick makes it easier to find a good place to eat, first in Seattle and now around the world, with reviews, a reservation service and now, more links to other tasty content from Eater and the like. Last year was huge, with Urbanspoon partnering with Facebook to allow its Dineline to be added to users’ timelines, a more accessible redesign of the iPhone app home screen and the launch of Urbanspoon apps on Windows 8. New projects: One of the company’s missions is to make Urbanspoon a better experience for its users, so expect more outreach and action on feedback. Employees: 71;

49. Dick Spady
President, Dick’s Drive-In
Place on list last year: No. 35

Because: Seattle’s original fast food chain continues to make headlines. Last year, Esquire named Dick’s the “Most Life-changing Burger Joint” after Dick’s earned a whopping 56 percent of the votes in the magazine’s poll. Just as irresistible as a Dick’s Deluxe at midnight? The company’s generous base salary, benefits and charitable giving. Employees: 180;

48. Brian D’Amato and Gina Batali
Owners, Salumi Artisan Cured Meats
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: What began as Armandino Batali’s (pictured, above right) humble charcuterie project and sandwich shop has grown into a cured-meat empire, with Gina Batali’s husband, Brian D’Amato, and his small but mighty crew cranking out 2,200 pounds a week. Much of the incredibly savory stuff is served in the Salumi storefront, along with a rotating selection of soups, pastas and vegetable dishes. Yes, vegetables. But its flavorful reach also spans from coast to coast, showing up at Dean & DeLuca in NYC and California and on menus at restaurants owned by that guy who’s Dino’s son—what’s his name? Yeah, celebrity chef Mario B. New projects: Experimenting with new, seasonal flavors. Employees: 14;

47. Fran Bigelow
Owner and president, Fran’s Chocolates
Place on list last year: No. 31

Because: Bigelow started the now-ubiquitous salted caramel craze, and her caramels are still our favorite. The quality and consistency of Fran’s never wavers, and we’re equally enamored with her other confections, especially the picture-perfect chocolate-dipped figs. Employees: 65;

46. Lara Hamilton
Owner, Book Larder
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: A regular of the late Kim Ricketts’ Book Events has created a warm, welcoming cookbook store that some customers liken to heaven. Add a heaping helping of dazzling author appearances, a book club marshaled by local author/blogger Tara Austen Weaver and a long list of engaging classes/demos, and this larder feels like the best kind of community clubhouse. New projects: Recently launched an online bookstore so far-flung fans can order signed copies and rare, vintage gems that line the shelves along with new releases. Employees: 3;

45. Mark Tupper
Owner, Triad Fisheries
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: Seasoned fisherman Bruce Gore developed groundbreaking techniques for preserving the quality of his catch of wild seafood long before it was cool. Tupper bought the company from Gore five years ago, continuing the high standards, working with a fleet of 23 boats and earning kudos for quality and sustainable practices from the Dublin-based Global Trust, as well as thumbs up from local eateries (Mashiko in West Seattle is a fan, using 60–70 pounds in its sustainable sushi and sashimi offerings each week) and shoppers who buy Triad’s stellar frozen-at-sea products, sold around the globe. New projects: Just inked a deal to sell to a distributor that will supply high-end restaurants in Paris. Employees: 1, plus the crews of 23 boats;

44. Barry Bettinger
Owner of Snoqualmie Ice Cream

Est.: 1997
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: Seattle owes much of its ice cream revolution to this dairy visionary, who provides a pasteurized base product to Molly Moon, Full Tilt, Peaks Frozen Custard and others. All the while, he follows the noble sustainability mantra of his idol, the eat-right guru Michael Pollan, right down to keeping chickens for the eggs that go into the frozen custards and growing fruit for Snoqualmie’s own signature flavors. The state-of-the-art production facility includes solar panels and a special type of concrete in the driveway that absorbs rainwater, to cut down on runoff. New projects: Steady expansion of the 1.5-acre farm near the production facility in Maltby, including upping the number of chickens; worked with Top Pot Hand-forged Doughnuts to develop new doughnut-driven flavors. Employees: 12;

43. Orlin Sorensen and Brett Carlile
Co-owners, Woodinville Whiskey Co.

Est.: 2010
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: In a region swimming in newly minted distilleries, this one rises to the top with its small-batch, hands-on approach, overseen by attentive distiller/owners. The proof is in its cult following, making it nearly impossible to find bottles of the highly allocated whiskey and rye on the shelves after they are released. Sorensen and Carlile also pioneered the DIY whiskey-aging kits. We’ll drink to that! New projects: Look for the limited edition of a new harvest release in October. Employees: 9;

42. Amy Pennington
Author, TV personality and owner of Go Go Green Garden
Started Go Go Green Garden in 2007
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: All of a sudden, Amy Pennington is everywhere! The author of two books—Apartment Gardening and Urban Pantry—writes about kitchen gardening for Food52 and hosts Check, Please! on KCTS (the second season begins next fall), along with other writing gigs. Oh, and she also plans and manages gardens around the city (including one for Bennett’s Pure Food Bistro on Mercer Island) via her Go Go Green Garden business. New projects: Pennington began publishing an e-cookbook series called Fresh Pantry in January; each installment focuses on a different, seasonal ingredient (this spring: rhubarb!) Employees: 2, sometimes more, seasonally for Go Go Green Garden;

41. Eric Banh and Sophie Banh
Chef/owners, Monsoon, Monsoon East and Ba Bar
Place on list last year: No. 25

Because: The siblings who introduced many in Seattle to Vietnamese flavors at the much-loved Monsoon continue to impress with their all-day eatery, Ba Bar. Sublime, elevated versions of everyday Viet fare: a wondrous pho made with Painted Hills brisket; the city’s most irresistible congee, with braised pork belly. New projects: An impressive pastry program—pastry chef Karen Krol is one to watch—and a new cocktail program at Monsoon. Employees: 82;