It’s not every day that a chef hailing from the best restaurant in the world—according to this year’s prestigious S. Pellegrino awards—decides to relocate to our neck of the woods, let alone plant himself in a destination as unlikely as tiny Lummi Island.
Chef Blaine Wetzel has done just that: He left Copenhagen’s renowned Noma in August to join the Willows Inn, lured by owner and innkeeper Riley Starks, whose extraordinary passion for serving only the freshest, best foods translates into his catching every salmon on the restaurant’s menu himself. Wetzel will have full control over the inn’s neighboring farm, with foods grown to his specifications. Combined with proximity to family (Wetzel grew up in Olympia) and unparalleled foraging opportunities, the deal was too good for him to pass up.
Expect groundbreaking changes at the already exceptional locavore haven; by February (the inn closes for a winter break during January), chef Wetzel promises to debut a wholly reimagined Willows restaurant. It’s big talk from the 24-year-old prodigy, to be sure. But one thing is certain: We’ve never had destination dining quite like this before. Willows Inn, 2579 West Shore Drive, Lummi Island; 360.758.2620; willows-inn.com
Published November 2010