NEIGHBORHOOD HOT SPOT… HUMBLE PIE

As a recent transplant from NYC, I’m constantly on the lookout for great pizza here in the Northwest.  We have incredible seafood, an abundance of awesome Asian cuisine, and of course, the best coffee in the country, but pizza has always felt a little ho hum here, which is such a let down after years of unlimited super delicious NYC pies.

Lucky for me, after a fair amount of Friday night “Pizza Research” that my husband and I embarked on, we discovered this gem right down the street from our house.  Humble Pie is run by Brian Solazzi, an incredibly intelligent and fascinating architect-turned-restaurateur who has made it his mission to offer organic, fairly priced, high quality food to his neighbors.  We stopped by one afternoon to tour the space, learn about his operation, meet the chickens who produce eggs for the restaurant and obviously, eat a whole bunch of really great pizza.  Read on to hear all about his adventures in pizza making in the Northwest.

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Tell us a bit about Humble Pie and why you decided to open it on the edge of the International District?

Humble Pie is a wood fired pizzeria rooted in three goals: make the most delicious, healthiest pizza possible, strive towards increased sustainability of all our practices, and to benefit our local community.  We are located in the ID because that is where my roots are. I’ve lived here for years, and I even went to the Japanese school across the street from humble pie when I was a kid.

 

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How did you get into the food and restaurant industry, and what drew you into wood fired pizza making in particular?

Pizza is one of the perfect foods. Like burritos, it is a complete meal, with all the food groups brought together in one delicious meal you can eat with your hands. Although we make some more adventurous pizzas, the traditional Italian wood fired oven is at the heart of our kitchen. In addition to pizza of course, we do all our prep cooking by fire. It’s amazing how precise the old world technology is. As for me, the first real job I ever had was making pizza, way back in high school. I’ve been dreaming about pizza ever since.

 

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Can you give us a run down on a day in the life of a pizza maker?

Great pizza is all about great dough, and that’s how I start all my days. Our dough needs to cure for a minimum of 24 hours, so it’s important to get an early start. After dough we start in on the rest of the prep, and by 11am we are ready to serve lunch. After lunch we’ve got a little window to finish up on prepping for dinner and the next day, and of course there is the other side of things, which is the running the business. You’ve got to wear a lot of hats to make it work, and there is always work to be done. Luckily my coworkers are world class people as well as pizza makers.

 

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Tell us a bit about the ingredients you use for you pizzas…much of it is grown here on location.  Can you tell us about this process, and the thinking behind it?

Our flour comes from a Washington farmers coop, our apples, potatoes, red and yellow onions, mushrooms and eggplant are all Washington grown organic, we grow our own organic basil… I could go on and on about ingredients and quality and values, but by now I think most foodies can agree that local, fresh, and sustainable, are not only the best for the planet, but also make for the most delicious food.

 

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Who are your favorite Seattle chefs?  Best places to get a meal in this city?

There is a place for food as art, and sometimes an excellent meal can be worth a steep price, but I favor more ‘daily bread’ type of establishments. Mark and Picha at Thai Curry Simple are incredible chefs and excellent people. Both Chu Minh and Thanh Son Tofu are wonderful places to eat. Lately I’ve been loving Gastropod as well.

 

What is your favorite part about living and working in the Northwest?

The people. Unpretentious,casual, and open minded.

 

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Any new dining trend you’re loving right now?  Any you’re so not into?

The best dining trend in the Northwest, bar none, is BEER! As a lifelong vegetarian I probably don’t get a vote on this, but I am so over the pork trend.

 

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What are some important lessons you’ve learned about running a small business, and being an entrepreneur?

Believe in yourself. Unlike more recondite professions, with restaurants, everyone has an opinion on everything. You’ve got to learn to listen with compassion and an open mind, while keeping true to your own values and vision.

 

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Best pizza on the menu?

Do I have to choose just one? Alright, how about the smoked eggplant with fresh red onion and cherry tomatoes.

 

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Head on over to Humble Pie if you get a chance!  The outdoor seating is plentiful and perfect for the hot weekend ahead.  I highly recommend the pizza with Apples, Beecher’s Cheese, and Spiced Walnuts… delicious!!

525 Rainier Ave S.

Seattle, WA 98144

 

Photos by KettleWerks.

 

 

DREAMERS AND DOERS. SEATTLE BASED JEWELRY DESIGNER, JERI WARLICK

Jewelry is a constant obsession for most women… finding that dainty piece that’s perfect on a daily basis, or the occassional knock out statement necklace that adds instant glam is all part of the fun of dressing and being feminine.  I recently met jewlery designer Jeri Warlick, and fell hard for her unique and sculptural collections.  Jeri moved to Seattle from Little Rock just over a year ago, and I decided to pay a visit to her studio, meet her charming family, and discuss all things creative and sparkly.

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Tell us a bit about why you started this line?  

Initially, in my 20’s I was just designing and making things for fun that I loved and wanted to wear.  People started asking if they could buy the jewelry, and it eventually evolved into an entire business that has enabled me to live a creative life.  The Patina line that I introduced this Fall was all about embracing change.  I had just moved from Little Rock to Seattle… quite a switch, and it was inspiring to constantly force myself to be open to the unknown, that being out of one’s comfort zone can often result in the most beautiful and exciting things. The line reflects this with it’s simplicity of materials, and modern carved out metals.  A more serious type of adornment.

How do you stay inspired?  

Travel is the most important way I maintain my creativity.  Being out in nature, discovering unusual places, or getting off the beaten path thrills me.  I love a good vintage or second hand store…digging through the ruffage to find that gem, and seeing it transformed into something stylish gets my creativity flowing.  I love watching the way street style evolves, and all the different ways young people spin it for themselves.  Of course, African prints and textiles are a huge part of what I look to in my designs….my beaded earrings and strong metal chokers are heavily influenced by this part of the world.  Authentic people and good, structurally sound design are in there too.

Jeri's Supplies

As a mother, how do you balance your work and personal life?

I am very spiritual in my life.  I meditate every single day, and try to maintain that feeling of being grounded to the earth we walk on.  I try to focus more on the process of the work then the outcome, and to revel in the feeling of creating something.  I try to apply this same thing to raising children…enjoy the every day, the process of helping them grow into adults.  And, art is something that we make a part of family life.  Both of us are artists, and we teach our children to incorporate that into their every day as well.  It’s a major value in our family life.

jeri at home

When you’re not at work, or with your family, where can we find you?

Ha, at work!  My studio is a part of our home, so the two are very married.  If not there, which is rare, I’m outdoors somewhere taking a walk or enjoying coffee or a great happy hour with friends.

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Where have you traveled lately that sparks your creativity?

It’s not a long trip, but recently I’ve been very inspired by Discovery Park, which is right near our home in Seattle.  You can take long walks in the woods, or hike down to the beach…it’s an incredible place that I find endlessly fullfilling.  Having the ability to watch the tide come in and out, watching that ebb and flow in nature, keeps me grounded but also reminds me of what beauty we have around us every day.

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What is your next big adventure?

We’re headed to Yosemite National Park for Christmas.  I’ve been inspired lately by John Muir’s writings and adventures, and would love to bring that into my next collection.  We’re planning on camping with our 5 year old, connecting with the energy of the place, and just see where it all goes from there. Peru is also on the list.

Tell us a bit about your daily routine?  Take us through your day.  

I start every day with a bit of meditation…it centers me before a full schedule takes over. Opening the doors right away to the smell of the Sound is wonderful, and of course, coffee in a French Press is a daily must.  I usually sit and write out a few thoughts in my journal quickly, and then cook breakfast for my family…perhaps my favorite routine of all, and one I will do no matter how rich and famous I might become!  Every day for me changes with new orders coming in overnight, possible clients to meet with, production needs to address.  I spend the entire day working until we meet back together as a family for a home cooked dinner.

Jeri at work and home

Favorite local food and drink haunts?

El Camino for their delicious Margaritas and Mexican food!  I love anything spicy, and all the great ethnic food options we have here in Seattle are amazing.

Any artists, designers, or creatives that you look up to?

I love Ralph Lauren’s story…very grassroots and well branded from the start.  Kate Spade really made something out of nothing.  And Alexander McQueen for embracing the darkness in his life and turning it into something beautiful until there was no more.

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How would you describe your style?  

“Easy and unexpected”.  A good cocktail dress, stilletos, worn in jeans with a goodwill tee and sharp blazer.  I love going out at night, straight from working in the studio all day with just some lipstick and a great shoe added for a hint of glamour.

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If you’re in the market for a last minute Holiday gift, take a look at Jeri’s incredible works of art, and reach out to her here.

 

All images by Carlton Canary

NEIGHBORHOOD LUNCH SPOT – THE BEAR AND THE BEE

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This week, we thought we’d pay a visit to one of our favorite new lunch haunts, The Bear and The Bee.  It’s right in the middle of Belltown, an area of Seattle that borders Pike Place Market, Downtown, and the Waterfront, and is chalk full of wonderful little shops, galleries, and restaurants…a great place to spend a day exploring.

We discovered this new sandwich shop a couple of months ago, and have been devotees ever since.  The sandwiches are just pure goodness, full of tasty ingredients from local providers.  The combinations lean toward the more creative, such as “The Smashed Potato”, which includes White Cheddar, Gouda, Leeks, Chives, and Fingerling Potatoes, all on an open faced Sourdough….so incredible!  It’s lovely to have a place in the area that caters to the local clientele who expect just a bit more out of their usual lunch break.

Marcus Johnson, one of the owners, sat down with us to answer a few questions about running such a great addition to the neighborhood.

 

Tell us a bit about the shop, and why you decided to open it here in Belltown?

Jessica Gifford and I, after opening a few bars in Belltown, decided the neighborhood could benefit from a small and comfortable sandwich shop that would serve high quality foods and stay open through the Seattle food witching hours (3-5) until 7p.m.  We wanted a fresh approach to classics like the Italian sub (The Milan-Torino) or the BLT (we add shaved onion and fresh avocado).

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How did you get into the restaurant industry?  What made you decide to tackle artisan sandwiches?

I’m a big foodie, but I’m a career barman so my experience with professional food prep is a bit naive to say the least, and I figured if we were to expand into the food scene we had better start small with a solid staff from which I could learn.  The Bear and the Bee is hopefully a stepping stone and research tool towards bigger things.

You own several other establishments in the area.  Tell us about these, and how you manage to keep balanced while running all at the same time.

We own and operate three bars within a one block radius in Belltown, off 2nd and Blanchard.  Bathtub Gin & Co. (built from scratch) is our slightly hidden cocktail bar.  The Rabbit Hole (a former Thai restaurant) has become our Cheers of sorts with skeeball, a full kitchen open late, and a couple televisions for the games.  Lava Lounge was on the verge of being closed when we decided to buy it, redo the mural, and basically just keep it the way it has been for the past twenty years.

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Your ingredients, the bread, the juice, the wine and beer….it’s all so excellent.  Where do you find such great purveyors?

The sources for our products are very important to us, even for a tiny little sandwich shop.  Besides produce from Frank’s and other vendors in Pike Place Market, and Zoe’s and Grand Central Bakery for meats and breads, we also brought in a local juicing company Healthy Bonez, for our personalized cold pressed juices.

Who are your favorite Seattle chefs?  Best places to get a meal in this city?

I just can’t say enough about how lucky we are to have so many great chefs and restaurants in the Seattle area.  I wish I had more time (and deeper pockets) to explore and re-visit every chef and their restaurants in town, but a few of my favorites: Renee Erickson; The Whale Wins,  Scott Staples; Quinn’s,  Jason Wilson; Crush,  Maria Hines; Tilth,  Matt Dillon; The Corson Building. So many good spots.  I also really enjoy the old staple restaurants that locals know and love: Palace Kitchen, Machiavelli, and half the restaurants in the International District.

The Making of a Sandwich - Bear and Bee

What is your favorite part about living and working in the Northwest?

I moved to Seattle about 13 years ago and am thoroughly enjoying planting my roots here.  I like the direction the city is moving and I see many opportunities in the future.  But the people, the water, the culture, and of course the 9 month anticipation of summer keeps me here.

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Any new dining trend you’re loving right now?  Any you’re so not into?

What I’m really loving right now, is restaurant design.  Although the food and service should be number one, I love walking into a well thought out room such as Westward or The London Plane.  Trend in the industry that I’m not too fond of? Lazy, uncaring service is always old.

Bear and Bee Interior

What are some important lessons you’ve learned about running a small business, and being an entrepreneur?

Being a small business owner has taught me many things and I have come to realize that it’s becoming an eternal classroom that fortunately lets me meet new people and pay the mortgage.

We love the look of The Bear and the Bee…tell us a bit about the thought behind it? 

I’m glad you enjoy the design of the place.  I thought a little wood (maybe a lot), some easy colors, and random art on the walls would sit well with a small open kitchen.  And I wanted to make sure we had a front sitting area up against the large floor to ceiling windows looking out at 2nd Ave.

 Bear and Bee Look

Best sandwich on the menu?

These days I’ve been enjoying The Southpaw. Ham and swiss with some sloppy sweet and sour slaw.  So good.

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Go check out The Bear and The Bee at 2211 2nd Ave between Blanchard and Bell in Seattle, Wa…. You won’t regret it!

All images curtesy of KettleWerks.

DREAMERS AND DOERS – EUNJEAN SONG, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS FOR MATT DILLON RESTAURANTS

Here in Seattle, we are lucky enough on any night of the week to choose from a multitude of award winning, seasonally focused, farm to table type restaurants…enough actually, to make your head spin a little bit.  But one chef that we never tire of is Matt Dillon, owner of Sitka and Spruce, Bar Sajor, The Corson Building, The London Plane, and Bar Ferd’nand.  Each of his establishments are a totally unique experience, yet they all seem to tie together in subtle, perfect ways.  It got us thinking, how exactly does an award winning chef keep such an operation running so seamlessly, while still making magic in the kitchen?

Enter, EunJean Song.  As Dillon’s Director of Operations, she oversees the restaurant group, and makes sure everything runs smoothly across the board on a daily basis.  It’s a big job, and we couldn’t wait to get her take on it all.  Lucky for us, she agreed to meet up at The Little London Plane in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square early one weekday morning, to fill us in on the details.

 

Tell us about your job!

I work for a small group of restaurants in Seattle. My expertise is in restaurant operations, so my daily focus is on helping each of the restaurants run the best they possibly can. We have an incredible team of chefs, managers, cooks and service folks who run the places on a daily basis, so my role is focused on helping everyone make sure they have the resources and support structures they need to do their jobs the best they can. That can be anything from financial reporting and analysis, to human resources and employee benefits, to public relations/marketing, to IT, to business development efforts, etc.

 

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In addition to being a lovely wine bar with great bites to eat, The Little London Plane sells a ton of excellent cookbooks, foodie magazines, and hard to find bottles of wine. 

 

What does your typical day look like?

Action packed! On most days, I will spend part of the day corresponding with vendors, our accountants, government agencies, and lawyers. And then dedicate the rest of my time to working with our management team on special projects and general operations. We are still a fairly small and young company, so my focus right now is on helping build out the foundation of our business so that we can start to add on more complexities, whether that be new restaurants, or new employee benefits, or new events programming, etc.

 

EunJean Song at The Little London Plane

 

What is the best thing about what you do? The worst?

I really value the community of people I get to work with on a daily basis. My colleagues, the farmers that supply to the restaurants, and our incredible professional services teams… I love being able to work with people who truly believe in what they do.  I also co-founded a non-profit group, Toklas Society, which helps build a community and support system for women who work in the restaurant and hospitality industry.  I love that I get to do this sort of work on the side, based on my own career experience.

The worst thing? Recently, it seems like I run out of hours in a day! I’m trying to work on prioritizing and delegating.

 

Tell us a bit about your background…how did you get here?

I studied journalism in college and worked in publishing for a few years in my early 20s. Although the magazine world was incredible, the industry’s shift in focus from print to on-line made it so that my role as a photo editor wasn’t as satisfying. At 23, I decided I wanted to work in restaurants instead. Growing up, I had always cooked and enjoyed hosting dinner parties, so I had this romantic and naïve idea that a restaurant job would help me fulfill my passion. I ended up walking into a small Korean restaurant in my Brooklyn neighborhood and dropping off my resume. The owner liked my cover letter and ended up bringing me in as a weekend server. After a few months of waitressing on the side, I knew that I wanted to leave magazines altogether, so I put together my resume and cover letter for a small New York restaurant group called Momofuku. The restaurant had just gone from one business to two, so they were looking for chef’s assistant to come on board to help manage the administrative side of the business. The company gave me a chance and I worked my butt off to contribute however I could. It started with lots of small tasks in the beginning, like managing our website and payroll, and as we grew, I was able to hone in on specific projects in service, HR and business development. We went from being 25 employees when I first started, to 600 employees by the time I left, and I really learned so much from working with such a driven and thoughtful group of people. By my sixth year at Momofuku, I was feeling like I was ready to leave New York City. I explored the idea of moving to Seattle, where my mom’s family is from. Matt Dillon (the owner of the restaurants I currently work for) and I were acquaintances through mutual friends, so we got to talking about possible opportunities within his team, and I joined the team last summer as Director of Operations.

 

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Where do you see the food scene in the Northwest heading? What do you feel is unique and special about restaurants in this part of the country?

Even though I grew up in Seattle, returning after 12 years away has really made me appreciate the beauty of this area so much more. The amount of space, the access to the best ingredients, the incredible community network and support… All make Seattle a really attractive place for chefs and restaurant operators. I am seeing more talent moving to the Northwest, and hope that we as a city can continue to build spaces and infrastructure to support this merging of creativity.

 

Where do you see your career heading in the long term future?

I want to work on making Seattle a world-class dining destination.

 

EunJean at The Little London Plane with Bike

 

Any advice for women looking to get into this field?

Lots of people love food (for obvious reasons!) and are attracted to the idea of working in restaurants. But loving food as a diner or a blogger is totally different from loving food as a line cook, a server, or even an office manager of a restaurant. Get to know the behind the scenes of the food and restaurant world by getting your feet wet. Volunteer to intern in a kitchen, or apply to be a server at a restaurant you admire. Even in an entry level role, you can show that you are there to contribute the highest quality work you are capable of, and most managers will notice that drive and integrity and make it a point of creating an opportunity for you.

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How do you keep that life/work balance in check?

I try to make a point of keeping my phone on silent and in my workbag when I’m not working. I used to respond to email at all hours of the day and night, but at some point, I realized that I don’t do my best work at 2 am.

 

Top 5 can’t-live-without items?

My bike, Evernote for keeping track of all the projects I work on, spam musubi, my kitchen knife, NPR

 

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Large picture windows that look onto Occidental Square make this the absolute perfect after work date spot.

 

Best local weekend or day trip you guys have gone on since living in Seattle?

Give us another year or two to get into Pacific NW outdoorsy adventures. For now, I will say that my favorite weekend trip is to Mutual Fish!

 

All photos by Carlton Canary for “That Pleasant Surprise”