News Blog for Seattle's Wallingford Neighborhood


Tilth hosts PCC Farmland Trust fundraiser

March 10th, 2011 by master

Four times a year local chefs who are devoted to preserving threatened farmland in the Northwest cook up a fundraiser for PCC Farmland Trust. On Tuesday, March 22, Tilth’s Maria Hines, who’s also on the PCC Farmland Trust board and founded the “Local Chefs for Local Farms” series, will offer a four-course meal at her Wallingford restaurant (1411 N 45th St.). All proceeds support PCC Farmland Trust’s Future Farm Fund to purchase Organic Agricultural Conservation Easements.

Here’s the menu, with wine pairings:

Full Circle Farm Sunchoke Soup
dungeness crab, watercress, preserved lemon

—2009 Martina Prieto Verdejo

Smoked Heirloom Bean Cassoulet
truffle butter, brioche, oven dried tomato
—2007 Powers Syrah Reserve Cougar Vineyard

Skagit River Ranch Poussin
grilled leek, garlic scape, baby potato
—2009 Lageder Rosato Lagrein

Theo Chocolate Ganache Cake
sea salt, chocolate shortbread, cocoa chantilly
—dessert wine TBD

*Vegetarian options available upon request

The dinner is $125 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Reservations are required: call (206) 633-0801.

In addition to the dinner, the evening will include a panel presentation featuring Hines, farmer Joel Blais of Crying Rock Farms, and Farmland Trust staff. All proceeds support PCC Farmland Trust’s Future Farm Fund to purchase Organic Agricultural Conservation Easements.

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Maria Hines eyes N. Seattle for second restaurant

October 16th, 2010 by master

When we talked with Tilth chef-owner Maria Hines in August, shortly after her Iron Chef win, she said that she didn’t want to open a second restaurant but added, “Never say never, though. Someone might give me a pile of money to open another restaurant!” Now comes news from Nancy Leson at the Seattle Times that Hines has investors lined up and will open Tilth’s sister restaurant, Golden Beetle.

Hines plans to stay in North Seattle for her “gastropub with an Eastern Mediterranean focus and a North African accent,” Leson writes.

With investors in line, Hines has her eye on the North End, and a turn-key space that she can turn around fast. Her wish list includes proximity to Tilth, and seating for fewer than 60 patrons.

“I don’t want to drive south of the Ballard Bridge or east of I-5,” says the Crown Hill resident. Nor does she care to build-out a new restaurant, a la Scott Staples, whose third venture is presently under construction in Fremont. Fremont’s in her sight-line, along with Ballard, Wallingford, Phinney Ridge and Greenwood. “I’d love to have another restaurant tucked away in one of those sweet little neighborhoods up here,” Hines says.

Read the rest of Leson’s article on the Seattle Times site.

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Farmers market treat: Maria Hines doing chef demo

September 14th, 2010 by master

Want to see “Iron Chef” winner Maria Hines in action? Leave work early tomorrow and get over to the Wallingford Farmers Market, where the Tilth chef will do a demo from 4 to 5 p.m.

Speaking of Tilth, if you eat there tonight, 10% of the proceeds will go to support Tilth Producers of Washington educational programming. Julia’s is also participating in “Eat Out for Farmers.” The full list of participating restaurants is here.

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Maria Hines talks "Iron Chef," future plans

August 6th, 2010 by master

We chatted with Tilth chef-owner Maria Hines earlier this week, days after she beat Chef Masaharu Morimoto on “Iron Chef America” and the day after she re-created that dinner in her restaurant. Readers hoping for behind-the-scenes tidbits will be disappointed — Hines couldn’t say a peep about production (not that we didn’t try!).

Not all chefs are so tight-lipped, though, and the “secrets” of “Iron Chef America” are easily found online. The highlights: The challenger chooses an Iron Chef to battle; they learn three ingredients in advance that could be the “secret” ingredient; and they have weeks to train for the competition in their own restaurants.

How did the producers get in touch with you?
I don’t know. I’ll assume that it was because of the James Beard Award. A lot of times when chefs get called for things it’s because of an award.

Tilth hosted Chef’s Table the night the show aired. Was that by design?
We didn’t know it was going to air on that day. We filmed it a while ago, and they don’t tell you very far in advance when it will air. We were planning on doing a viewing party, so that destroyed that, but was able to leave in time to see the show.

Did you consider having a viewing party at the end of Chef’s Table?
We have a theme that’s a commitment and it wouldn’t follow suit with Seattle Chefs Table, to focus on one chef.

Last night was the “Iron Chef” dinner at the restaurant. Did you change anything from the dishes on the show?
We turned the brandade into an hors d’oeuvre that was just smaller, but otherwise it was exactly what we did for the competition. We might add one of the dishes to the menu.

As of late last week there were still spots available for that dinner. Did that change after the show aired?
We ended up filling up. It was hard for people to commit to coming before the show because they don’t know what they’re getting.

Had you worked with Pacific cod before the show?
There are lots of different Pacific cods. The one that we had, I’d never used before. A fish is a fish, but to a certain degree you break them down differently.

Are you interested in doing more TV?
I’m fully open to it, if it fits the brand of Tilth, and if it’s something that suits us. I had a blast. It was stressful and hard, but if something comes easy is it gratifying? It seems like it’s fun after it’s done. like running a marathon: “Wow, that was actually kind of cool.” You have a feeling of accomplishment, you have a payoff. It helps you move through life in a different way. Then when you come across other challenges or obstacles, you have a little more trust in yourself. It’s kind of cool.

You seem really at ease in front of the camera.
The camera doesn’t bother me. You don’t know untill you’re in front of the camera. On the other side of that lens, there are people watching, so I think about it as people. It feels like a two-way mirror. I thought I would hate doing TV. I don’t have cable; I hadn’t even seen “Iron Chef” before I got the call to do it.

You could tell that your team — with chef de cuisine Larkin Young and sous chef Jason Brzozowy — was really tight on the show.
Larkin and Jason (we call him Mason — you can hear that on the show) are really strong cooks with great palates. I couldn’t ask to have two better people with me.

How have these TV appearances affected your business?
It’s been great, and it has an impact on our local economy. When tourists come they come to Wallingford, they bring more traffic to this part of Seattle. It’s turned into a destination restaurant because of Martha Stewart, James Beard. They find their way to us. I did set out to create a destination restaurant, but I wanted to be in the neighborhood. I like the trees and the beautiful houses.

How had business been before the TV appearances, with the economy, etc.?
Last year was really shitty — sorry, I should say bad! This year it’s definitely picked up. We’ve been fortunate with the Martha Stewart thing, which was in February and helped out during what’s usually a slow month. Then Seattle Restaurant week gave us a strong April. Then “Top Chef” helped in May. We’ve been riding on a lot of good timing.

Do you have expansion plans for Tilth?
I don’t have expansion plans. I’m just going to try to keep my head above water. We’re generating more business now with all the hype. When you have people coming because of the outcome on “Iron Chef,” expectations are really high. I want to give every guest who walks into the restaurant a dynamite experience. I don’t want to do things that would pull me too far away from Tilth. I’m too attached to being here and my staff. It’s very family oriented here. If I opened another restaurant, I worry that feeling wouldn’t be there. I’d have to wear more hats than I do. Never say never, though. Someone might give me a pile of money to open another restaurant!

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Maria Hines victorious on "Iron Chef America"

August 2nd, 2010 by master

Tilth chef-owner Maria Hines entered Kitchen Stadium on “Iron Chef America” and beat longtime Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, in an episode that aired Sunday night.

Both chefs created five dishes using the secret ingredient, Pacific cod. These were Hines’ plates:

1) Smoked cod with paprika, served with fresh flagolets

2) Cod brandade

3) Sous-vide cod with lemon verbena and fried green tomatoes and tapioca pearls; topped with tomato fondue

4) Pan-seared cod (with skin) with artichokes and nasturtium vinaigrette

5) Alderwood planked balsamic cod and corn pudding cake

During the hour-long competition, host Alton Brown suggested numerous times that Hines wasn’t working fast enough and was falling behind in plating. But in the final seconds of the allotted hour of competition, Hines and her team had enough time to break out a bottle of Champagne, which they shared with Iron Chef Morimoto.

One judge commented that her food was so confident, and Hines replied she wanted to throw up the whole time she was cooking.

Another judge said she showed great reserve in her cooking, and didn’t need to gussy it up too much.

In contrast, Chef Morimoto’s dishes were very imaginative but lost on flavor. The scores:

Taste: 28
Plating: 12
Originality: 11
Total: 51

Taste: 23
Plating: 10
Originality: 13
Total: 46

This Tuesday, Hines will cook the winning dishes at Tilth for one special meal. Spots were still available as of July 27, but we suspect that they’ll fill up fast. Call 206-633-0801 for reservations.

Photo courtesy Food Network

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Surprising facts about two Wallingford chefs

June 11th, 2010 by master

The Seattle Weekly’s site recently published surprising facts about five Seattle chefs, and two are from Wallingford.

Tilth’s Maria Hines scaled Yosemite’s El Capitan, but that’s not a shocker if you’ve seen Hines in action.

The real surprise is that Art of the Table’s Dustin Ronspies was on a short-lived ABC reality series called “The Family,” on which he “got to see how reality shows ruin people and make families turn on and hate each other.” Read the story here.

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See Maria Hines' 'Top Chef' competition tonight

April 7th, 2010 by master

Grab your favorite gourmet nosh and settle in front of the TV tonight to watch the kickoff of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters 2,” on which Tilth’s Maria Hines soon will compete (and win, we hope!).

Hines will appear in the April 28 episode, which Bravo described thusly:

EPISODE 204: “CAST AND CREW MEAL” – Wednesday April 28th @ 10pm
Continually striving to be cutting edge, this week’s batch of master chefs must cook for the most modern group in the entertainment landscape – the cast and crew of the hit TV series, “Modern Family.” Competing to make classic dishes current are five top chefs from far ends of North America, including Debbie Gold (The American Restaurant), Jody Adams (Rialto Restaurant), Maria Hines (Tilth), Rick Tramonto (TRU) and Susur Lee (Madeline’s).

Unlike on the regular “Top Chef,” which takes relatively unknown chefs and pits them against each other over the course of a season, the “Masters” version features a handful of accomplished chefs in each episode and one winner advances to the final rounds. The chefs compete to win $100,000 for the cause of their choice; Hines would donate her winnings to PCC Farmland Trust, for whom Tilth recently hosted a Local Chefs for Local Farms benefit.

Two other Seattle chefs, Thierry Rautureau (Rover’s) and Jerry Traunfeld (Poppy), will also compete in this season of “Top Chef Masters.” Traunfeld is in the episode that airs tonight.

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