Seattle's Food Establishment: Inaugural List

Seattle magazine's inaugural list of the 70 most powerful players in the Seattle food scene.
seattle magazine's food establishment list

50. Nathan Myhrvold
Author of Modernist Cuisine

Est.: 2011, when after 14 years at Microsoft and co-founding Intellectual Ventures, an invention and licensing company in 2000, he started The Cooking Lab, a subsidiary limited liability company (LLC), as an outlet for his passion for food and publishing. Because: Myhrvold is the Superman—or, more appropriately, the Tony Stark—of food. He combines a lifelong craze for good cooking, a brilliant scientific mind, and the wealth, patience and peerless obsessiveness required to discover new techniques and disprove old canards. His six-volume opus, Modernist Cuisine, created through years of research and a super high-tech cooking lab, is becoming a new Escoffier for high-powered, home-based geeks as well as culinary students and top-of-the-line chefs. (Want a down-to-earth tip for the rest of us? Aerate your good red wine in a blender; it really works.) New projects: Modernist Cuisine was recently released in French, German and Spanish, and there are more translations to come. Employees: Between a dozen and 70 people at a time worked on Modernist Cuisine.

49. Steven Stone
President, Washington Distillers Guild; Founder and head distiller at Sound Spirits

Est.: 2008. Because: The goal of the guild, which formed after the passing of the craft distillery law in 2008 (making distilling legal in Washington state), is to promote a thriving local distillery industry. As the effects of Initiative 1183 (the bill passed last year that privatizes the liquor industry) are felt by the many fledgling distilleries in the coming months, the Washington Distillers Guild will continue to help guide the Liquor Control Board by providing insight into these distilleries’ needs. New projects: Riding out the storm that many believe I-1183 will cause, including a price hike for locally distilled spirits, due to increased taxes. Members: 40 and growing.

48. Arnold Shain
Founder and president, The Restaurant Group

Est.: 1997, though Shain has been in the restaurant industry since the ’60s. Because: Shain is officially a consultant, but that sounds too hands off for what the guy The Seattle Times’ Nancy Leson once dubbed “Yenta the Restaurant Matchmaker” actually does. From small independent restaurateurs to global chains, Shain connects partners, money, ideas, sales plans and new blood. Recently, he’s had a hand in projects from the South Lake Union opening of Lunchbox Laboratory to the soup-dumpling smash hit of Taiwan-based chain Din Tai Fung, as well as Emmer & Rye, Pyramid Brewery, and the Eastlake, Southlake and Greenlake Grills. New projects: Working with 15 clients on new developments and expansions. Employees: 6.

47. Charles and Rose Anne Finkel
Owners, Pike Brewing Company

Est.: 1989. Because: Charles Finkel, one of the first craft brewers in Seattle and the mentor to innumerable local and national brewing talents, started out as a beer and wine importer. But soon Charles and his wife, Rose Anne, began making beer at the then-named Pike Place Brewery. No slacker, Finkel keeps innovating, introducing three new seasonal beers last year. New projects: New beer, including the Pike Post Alley porter; in February, Pike Brewing’s Space Needle golden ale won a competition for their Pike Space Needle Golden Anniversary IPA to be named the official beer of the Space Needle’s 50th-anniversary celebrations. Employees: 80.

46. Thierry Rautureau
Chef and owner, Luc and Rover’s

Est.: 1987. Because: The one sure beacon of French fine dining in Seattle has long been Rover’s. But with Luc, the corner bistro, Rautureau (aka  “The Chef in the Hat”) proved he can also do easygoing and personable. Happily, the granddaddy is still going strong: Rover’s celebrates its 25th birthday this year; Luc turns 2 next month. New projects: “In the Kitchen With Tom and Thierry,” the Saturday radio show that Tom Douglas and Rautureau hosted for years, was cancelled in 2010. But now it’s back! “Seattle Kitchen” airs on KIRO-FM on Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. and again on Sundays at 10 a.m. Employees: 55.

45. James Miller

Owner and pastry chef, Cafe Besalu

Est.: 2000. Because: Twelve years into the business, Miller’s quality has never waned, and he continues to set the bar for pastry in Seattle; many consider his pastry to be the best in town. Consistency is key. Says Miller, “Our thing has always been to keep it really simple and keep the quality high.” Employees: 10.

44. Jamie Boudreau
Owner and bartender, Canon
Est.: 2011. Because: As the bartender many credit with pushing Seattle onto the craft cocktail forefront, Boudreau finally opened his own cocktail bar last fall. And what a bar it is: Capitol Hill’s Canon feels more like a cocktail museum than some newfangled cocktail hangout. And don’t forget: Murray Stenson tends bar there, too. New projects: A cocktail book is coming! Plus, Canon is adding brunch, and Boudreau will also teach whiskey classes at the bar. Employees: 15.

43. Ron Cohn
Owner, Consolidated Restaurants
Est.: 1951. Because: The Cohn family (founder David and his son and the current owner, Ron) brought us what many consider to be Seattle’s finest steak and oyster houses, the iconic Metropolitan Grill and Elliott’s. (The restaurant group also owns several Wing Dome and Steamers restaurants.) New projects: A new Wing Dome in West Seattle. The Met now offers Australian Wagyu beef—one of just four restaurants in the U.S. to do so. Employees: 350.

42. Brian McCracken and Dana Tough
Chefs/owners, mccracken tough

Est.: 2008, when they opened Spur Gastropub. Because: In four short years, the chef duo has dabbled in molecular gastronomy (at Spur) and brought Seattle one of its finest speakeasy-inspired craft cocktail bars: Tavern Law. New projects: This year, they took over the corner that housed Restaurant Zoë for 12 years to open The Coterie Room, where gussied-up comfort food and carefully prepared classic cocktails rule. Employees: 72.

41. Renee Erickson
Chef/owner of Boat Street Cafe, chef/co-owner, The Walrus and the Carpenter

Est.: 1998, when she opened Boat Street Cafe. Because: She’s wowed us again with The Walrus and the Carpenter. The New York Times featured the white-washed oyster spot on the cover of the travel section last year, and Bon Appétit named The Walrus and the Carpenter one of the top 10 new restaurants in the country. Employees: 50.;