Like so many in the community, the staff here at Seattle mag was shocked at the news that local chef and former owner of the now-closed restaurant Nettletown, Christina Choi died yesterday (December 28) from complications caused by a brain aneurysm. She was only 34.
Regular Seattle contributor Langdon Cook knew Christina and her cooking well. He reflected on her talents on his personal blog, Fat of the Land, today. Here's an excerpt of his lovely writing:
To eat at Nettletown was to know exactly what was growing wild at that very moment somewhere in the mountains, woods, or river valleys just beyond the city. This was one of the reasons why you had to be back next week—there was always something new coming into season, prepared in an unfussy way that allowed the ingredient's singular qualities to shine.
Another reason was Christina herself. The kitchen couldn't contain her. She needed to come out and visit with her customers—and we needed to bask in her glowing presence.
One time I brought a class of high schoolers to Nettletown. All week we had been foraging for wild foods as part of a week-long experiential course, in the Cascades, along the shore, even in a Seattle park. Our visit to Nettletown was a reward of sorts for the effort the students had put into the class and also a reminder of how food brings people together. Christina looked tired to me that day and I was worried about her. The hurly-burly of the restaurant business seemed to be taking a toll. Nevertheless, she rose to the occasion, coming out of her busy kitchen to spend time with the kids. She talked passionately about the various wild foods on the menu and where they came from, their high nutritious value and unique flavors. Afterward, on the bus ride back to school, several of the students told me how much of an impression Christina had made on them. "She's rad," one tenth grader said—high praise. Read more.
Our thoughts are with Christina's family and friends as they mourn this difficult loss.
You can visit Honey from a Weed, the blog maintained by Christina's family, where many members of the community are now leaving their condolences.