Tom Douglas

Chef, Restaurateur

Seattle

Tom Douglas launched his restaurant group with Dahlia Lounge in 1989 and is now known as the father of Northwestern cuisine for his 30-year focus on local, sustainable food. With a growing empire of 13 restaurants, Douglas supplies his kitchens with up to 50,000 pounds of produce from his 20-acre farm. He’s also dedicated to eliminating hunger — Douglas is on the board of Food Lifeline, an organization that provides healthy food to low-income families; he partnered with Seattle Public Schools in 2011 to design more nutritious student lunches. He’s penned four books, including 2012’s Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, and has received James Beard Awards for Best Chef: Northwest (1994), Best American Cookbook (2001) and Outstanding Restaurateur (2012).

  • On December 17, 2012
    Andi Berens is now following Tom Douglas
  • On November 2, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What are Tom Douglas’ favorite restaurants in Seattle?

    I like Sitka & Spruce — Great spot to hunker down and have a great meal. And then a super fancy option is Rover’s. I don’t go there very much. It’s a five-hour kind of meal. I love Terra Plata. It’s fairly new and serves delicious Northwest food. If you want old-Seattle, there’s a place run by a sweet lady named Mel. It’s called Dinette. It’s maybe 60 feet, but it’s a sweet little spot. It’s my favorite restaurant in town. Try the veal-stuffed cabbage rolls.
  • On November 2, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What are Tom Douglas’ favorite nightlife spots in Seattle?

    Palace Kitchen, one of my places, is where I go the most. It’s a nice bar, and my favorite place for a cocktail. It’s got a big u-shaped bar, it’s open until 2 a.m., and it serves food until 1 a.m. You can always get a late supper and beautiful bottle of wine. There’s a famous place called Canon that is a nice cocktail bar. Tavern Law is a great place to have a cocktail. They’re a little snooty, but I’ll give them that.
  • On November 2, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What are Tom Douglas’ favorite things to do in Seattle?

    Seattle’s a great strolling town. I like getting to the Pike Place Market at about eight in the morning. It’s all still brick and cobblestones. Pick up a coffee and a pastry at Le Panier, which is a French coffeehouse. Just stroll the market on foot and watch it come alive. We don’t have too many places like this in this country. You see them in major European cities, but you don’t see too many in America.
     
    Continue down to the waterfront and hop on a ferry to head over to the Bainbridge Island. It’s a 30-minute ferry ride. Walk around the main street over there, then get back on the boat and head to Seattle. You get great views of town, and you can sneak a bottle of wine up onto the upper deck in a paper bag. Don’t let ’em catch you. Then you should walk down to Seattle Center. If it’s a nice day I would check out the Space Needle. Within the Space Needle grounds, the EMP Museum is a tribute to rock ‘n’ roll. There’s also the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, which opened in 2012 and is a permanent glass museum.
  • On November 2, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What are Tom Douglas’ favorite hotels in Seattle?

    I stay at the Hotel Ändra — I have a restaurant in the hotel, but it’s not my hotel. I put people up there. A crazy fun place that’s always expensive, because it’s always full, is the Inn at the Market at the downtown’s Pike Place Market. I’m a fan of fancy hotels. There’s a brand new Four Seasons [Hotel] Seattle here that does a very nice job. I got married at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, so I always like that hotel, too.
  • On November 2, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What is Tom Douglas’ favorite time to visit Seattle?

    It’s probably best from July 4th through the end of September and October. We don’t really get much summer until July. June can be a warm month, but it doesn’t happen very often. We don’t ever really get the heat. We get below 30 and above 90 about three times a year. It’s very temperate, but it’s also very marine-like. We’re very close to the mountains, so saltwater and freshwater fishing are big. You can do most anything here.
  • On November 2, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What are Tom Douglas’ favorite Italian restaurants in Seattle?

    Cuoco. I have the cappelletti. It’s a little flower-shaped pasta with the fonduta inside. It’s done with a charred broccoli and butter. It’s orgasmic, you could say. Then I go to Cascina Spinasse and depending on what they have it on their menu, I usually order rabbit or veal breast. I love what they do with braised meats and pastas. They do a beautiful tajarin — just crazy good Piedmontese food.
  • On November 2, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What are Tom Douglas’ favorite brunch spots in Seattle?

    For dim-sum brunch, which is very popular in Seattle, I would do Harbor City. I think they have the best hao gao, turnip cakes and lo mai gai, which is the sticky rice and lotus leaf dish. Lola, my restaurant, is good for brunch. I have the house-cured sockeye salmon on onion-seed rye with an oak barrel-aged feta. It’s delicious.
     
    For everyday American, I go to Vera’s Restaurant. It’s straight-up American breakfast. I have the avocado omelet with bacon and tomatoes in the summertime because it’s so delicious. At Seatown I have the congee, which is a Chinese rice porridge with black beans. It’s got black-bean roasted pork and hot chili paste and two perfectly poached eggs on top. I go to Szechuan Noodle Bowl and have the pork and napa cabbage dumplings with chives. Serious Biscuit is just a biscuit bar. I have the ham hock and collard green biscuit or the fried chicken and gravy biscuit.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What is Tom Douglas’ food philosophy?

    Part of our goal is to reduce the center of the plate. One of the frustrations I have about the American food system is that so much goes in the garbage in our restaurants, and that’s not just the cost of the food, but the cost of the labor to prepare it and then throw it away. I’ve challenged myself this year to figure out a way to have a conversation with our customers about the menu: ‘This is what we’re serving you, this is what it costs, if you’re still hungry let us know.” I want to figure out how to put the food out that you might need, and if we haven’t got you yet, put some more food out. That’s a conversation that has to happen around this country, and I’d like to figure out how to make it happen with us.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What is Tom Douglas' favorite ingredient?

    When I first opened Etta’s, I was opening a seafood restaurant and Seattle is full of seafood restaurants. I had been invited to be a judge at the Jack Daniel’s World Barbecue Invitational in Lynchburg, Tennessee. And I fell in love with the rub process, what people were using on their ribs, whole hogs and briskets and things. I thought about that with salmon, and I started playing around with it. As my new restaurant opened, I decided that I’d challenge myself. I wanted somebody to say, in the media around here, that we had the best salmon in Seattle. I played around with the idea at Etta’s. Everyone kept asking for the recipe, and it was really the technique that wasn’t normal around here. So we test-marketed these little bags of our rub and sold 3,000 our first summer with it. That was 13 summers ago. Now, I think we have six in production and four sauces.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What is Tom Douglas' favorite ingredient?

    When I first opened Etta’s, I was opening a seafood restaurant and Seattle is full of seafood restaurants. I had been invited to be a judge at the Jack Daniel’s World Barbecue Invitational in Lynchburg, Tennessee. And I fell in love with the rub process, what people were using on their ribs, whole hogs and briskets and things. I thought about that with salmon, and I started playing around with it. As my new restaurant opened, I decided that I’d challenge myself. I wanted somebody to say, in the media around here, that we had the best salmon in Seattle. I played around with the idea at Etta’s. Everyone kept asking for the recipe, and it was really the technique that wasn’t normal around here. So we test-marketed these little bags of our rub and sold 3,000 our first summer with it. That was 13 summers ago. Now, I think we have six in production and four sauces.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What is Tom Douglas’ favorite airline?

    Mostly, I’m an Alaska guy. It is getting better and better to travel Alaska Airlines. I won’t travel Southwest. I buy two coach class or one business class ticket, depending on the price difference. I don’t travel at all anymore with a single coach ticket. I only buy two or I buy a business class. Unlike Southwest, who went to the hub program, Alaska is on a direct program and I just love it. They have direct flights to Philly, Miami, D.C., Boston and New York. The hard part is they only have one direct flight to Hawaii per day. So if things go haywire, whether it’s mechanically or with weather, you’re kind of screwed.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What is Tom Douglas’ favorite airline?

    Mostly, I’m an Alaska guy. It is getting better and better to travel Alaska Airlines. I won’t travel Southwest. I buy two coach class or one business class ticket, depending on the price difference. I don’t travel at all anymore with a single coach ticket. I only buy two or I buy a business class. Unlike Southwest, who went to the hub program, Alaska is on a direct program and I just love it. They have direct flights to Philly, Miami, D.C., Boston and New York. The hard part is they only have one direct flight to Hawaii per day. So if things go haywire, whether it’s mechanically or with weather, you’re kind of screwed.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What is Tom Douglas’ favorite airline?

    Mostly, I’m an Alaska guy. It is getting better and better to travel Alaska Airlines. I won’t travel Southwest. I buy two coach class or one business class ticket, depending on the price difference. I don’t travel at all anymore with a single coach ticket. I only buy two or I buy a business class. Unlike Southwest, who went to the hub program, Alaska is on a direct program and I just love it. They have direct flights to <a href="http://www.forbestravelguide.com/destination/philadelphia">Philly</a>, Miami, <a href="http://www.forbestravelguide.com/destination/washington-dc">D.C.</a>, Boston and New York. The hard part is they only have one direct flight to Hawaii per day. So if things go haywire, whether it’s mechanically or with weather, you’re kind of screwed.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What is Tom Douglas’ favorite airline?

    Mostly, I’m an Alaska guy. It is getting better and better to travel Alaska Airlines. I won’t travel Southwest. I buy two coach class or one business class ticket, depending on the price difference. I don’t travel at all anymore with a single coach ticket. I only buy two or I buy a business class. Unlike Southwest, who went to the hub program, Alaska is on a direct program and I just love it. They have direct flights to Philly, Miami, D.C., Boston and New York. The hard part is they only have one direct flight to Hawaii per day. So if things go haywire, whether it’s mechanically or with weather, you’re kind of screwed.