Inspired by his parents, Ben Ford learned early on to appreciate food and the joys of working with his hands, whether in the garden or in the kitchen. While studying in France, he took a strong interest in the Slow Food Movement and later enrolled at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. After honing his skills at restaurants in the Los Angeles area, Ford opened his first restaurant in 1999. He now runs Ford’s Filling Station, which emphasizes sustainable food. He won the Cochon 555 prize — a snout-to-tail cooking competition — and published Taming the Feast, a book which features large scale recipes for sharing with friends.
Ed Kenney did not enter the culinary field right away. Indeed, he spent several years in the corporate world in commercial real estate. After eating a bowl of pho in Hanoi, Ed had an epiphany, decided to change careers, and stepped into the culinary world. He returned to his native Hawaii, enrolled at the Culinary Institute of the Pacific and took jobs at some of the best Honolulu restaurants. He opened Town, a vibrant eatery that follows his philosophy of procuring the best ingredients from local purveyors. He also owns a catering company called Uptown Events and opened a new sandwich place called Kaimuki Superette, which features delicious seasonal sandwiches and sides.
Town, 3435 Waialae Ave., Honolulu, HI, USA, +1 808 735 5900
Kaimuki Superette, 3458 Waialae Ave., Honolulu, HI, USA, +1 808 734 7800
A native of Washington, Blaine Wetzel began working in kitchens at the age of 14 and never looked back. Though he’s still under 30, Blaine has accrued a lot of success, including apprenticeships at some of the best restaurants in the world like Noma — the famed Copenhagen restaurant. He has also won plenty of awards. He is head chef at The Willows Inn located on Lummi Island, where he presents an 18-course farm-to-table tasting menu that highlights the bounty of the island whether it’s farmed, fished, or foraged.
The Willows Inn, 2579 W. Shore Dr., Lummi Island, WA, USA, +1 888 294 2620
Even at a young age, Guy Conley had a passion for the culinary arts. He followed his dream by heading to Portland and enrolling at the Western Culinary Institute. After graduation, he took jobs within Portland and did a stint in Salt Lake City where he honed his skills before returning to his home state of Alaska. There he made a name for himself by working at various restaurants and eventually became the executive chef at Ginger, an Asian fusion restaurant. A proponent of locally sourced ingredients, Guy now heads Fat Ptarmigan, an artisanal pizza venue featuring wood-fired pizzas made with the best quality ingredients from local sources whenever available.
Fat Ptarmigan, 441 W. 5th Ave., Anchorage, AK, USA, +1 907 777 7710
With a background in the arts, Jenn Louis decided that cooking was her true passion and enrolled at Portland’s Western Culinary Institute. She opened a catering company called Culinary Artistry and then eight years later a restaurant called Lincoln. Louis continues to collect accolades and her and her husband’s latest venture is the Sunshine Tavern, a restaurant specializing in American comfort dishes.
Lincoln, 3808 N. Williams Ave., Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 288 6200
Sunshine Tavern, 3111 SE Division St., Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 688 1750
Michael Chiarello knew that he wanted to be a chef by the time he was a child. Today, he is not only a multi-award winning chef who has developed over 10 restaurants but is also a vintner, TV host, author, sustainable farmer, and philanthropist. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, he opened his first restaurant at the age of 22 in Florida before returning to his beloved California. Specializing in Italian cuisine influenced by California flavors, the Napa Valley-based chef focuses on seasonal and sustainable products, including those from artisan purveyors. Diners can sample his mouth-watering Italian-Napa Valley cuisine at Bottega located in Napa Valley or try his newest venture in San Francisco, Coqueta, a Spanish eatery featuring California ingredients.
Bottega, 6525 Washington St., Yountville, CA, USA, +1 707 945 1050
Coqueta, Pier 5, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 704 8866
A nationally recognized chef who has been on numerous food-related TV shows, Maria Hines has earned many awards for her endeavors. She owns three successful Seattle restaurants, each of which serves a different type of cuisine: Tilth serves New American, Golden Beetle specializes in Eastern Mediterranean, and Agrodolce creates dishes from Southern Italy. While many chefs seek organic products for their cuisine, Maria has taken this idea one step further. All of her restaurants are certified organic.
Tilth, 1411 N. 45th St., Seattle, WA, USA, +1 206 633 0801
Golden Beetle, 1744 NW Market St., Seattle, WA, USA, +1 206 207 2977
Agrodolce, 709 N. 35th St., Seattle, WA, USA, +1 206 547 9707
As a child, Oregon-native Naomi Pomeroy often spent time in the kitchen and garden with both her grandmother and mother, an experience that would influence Naomi’s future. A self-taught chef, she started by opening a catering business with Michael Hebb, and then created a supper club in which she hosted clients in her home. In 2007, Naomi opened Beast, a farm-to-table eatery that offers an exquisite prix-fixe six-course dinner and four-course Sunday brunch. Over the past several years, the restaurant has garnered much recognition.
Beast, 5425 NE 30th Ave., Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 841 6968
Expatriate, 5424 NE 30th Ave., Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 867 5309
Renee Erickson is a strong force on the Seattle culinary scene. With four popular restaurants under her belt, it is no wonder this James Beard-nominee is on everyone’s radar. After earning a degree in the arts from the University of Washington, she took a job at the Boat Street Cafe, which would become her first restaurant. Over the years, Renee has opened three other venues, The Walrus and the Carpenter, Barnacle, and The Whale Wins. Inspired by the food of Britain, France, and Southern Europe, the cuisine offered at her restaurants reflects said countries but also highlight the bounty of the Northwest. Erickson recently published her first cookbook, A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus, which features delicious seasonal menus and stories.
Boat Street Café, 3131 Western Ave., Seattle, WA, USA, +1 206 632 4602
Barnacle, 4743 Ballard Ave. NW, Seattle, WA, USA, +1 206 706 3379
The Whale Wins, 3506 Stone Way N., Seattle, WA, USA, +1 206 632 9425
Renowned for his Hawaiian fusion cuisine with an emphasis on Pacific Rim flavors, Roy Yamaguchi is the man behind the successful chain of restaurants called Roy’s, which can be found throughout the world. Born and raised in Tokyo, Roy took an early interest in food thanks to his parents and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York at the young age of 19. He was an apprentice in Los Angeles area restaurants before opening his own place in Hollywood in 1984. A few years later, he moved to Honolulu where he opened the first Roy’s and eventually became Hawaii’s first recipient of the James Beard Award. Roy is also the author of several cookbooks and owner of The Tavern, a restaurant inspired by his grandfather.