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 October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What does Tom Douglas like to wear when traveling?

    I’m fat, so I see myself in the Americans traveling all over the world. Us fat guys, we shouldn’t wear shorts. Shorts and T-shirts that say, “I love cheeseburgers” or “margaritas in paradise” are just horrible. Women with rhinestones on their shirts in the shape of martini glasses and stuff like that? It’s just a bad look. When I travel, I’m an ExOfficio guy — just simple, light travel clothes. Long pants and collared shirts — no T-shirts. I’ve determined it’s not a good look.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    Who is Tom Douglas’ favorite traveling companion?

    My wife, definitely. She is a go-getter. Unlike me, she likes to make plans. In our five weeks in Paris, my only criteria were visiting places with no stars and making no reservations. That was a big mistake — not so much on the star perspective, but the no reservation thing. She’s like a mini travel agent. She loves to travel and she’s been out-traveling me lately.  She is coming around to my idea that camping should be done at Ritz-Carltons and Four Seasons, and that outdoor eating should be room service.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    Who is Tom Douglas’ favorite traveling companion?

    My wife, definitely. She is a go-getter. Unlike me, she likes to make plans. In our five weeks in Paris, my only criteria were visiting places with no stars and making no reservations. That was a big mistake — not so much on the star perspective, but the no reservation thing. She’s like a mini travel agent. She loves to travel and she’s been out-traveling me lately.  She is coming around to my idea that camping should be done at Ritz-Carltons and Four Seasons, and that outdoor eating should be room service.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What is the best trip Tom Douglas ever took?

    The most emotional trip I’ve ever taken was driving across the country taking my kid to college in New York. We were just driving across the country, stopping in places like Sioux Falls and Mount Rushmore, and at the end of the trip you’re dropping your kid off who’s never left home before. That was a struggle, but so fun. We look back on those memories quite a bit. At the time, my favorite band was the Dixie Chicks and he was sitting there playing Wide Open Spaces. It was great.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What is the best trip Tom Douglas ever took?

    The most emotional trip I’ve ever taken was driving across the country taking my kid to college in New York. We were just driving across the country, stopping in places like Sioux Falls and Mount Rushmore, and at the end of the trip you’re dropping your kid off who’s never left home before. That was a struggle, but so fun. We look back on those memories quite a bit. At the time, my favorite band was the Dixie Chicks and he was sitting there playing Wide Open Spaces. It was great.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What is the best trip Tom Douglas ever took?

    The most emotional trip I’ve ever taken was driving across the country taking my kid to college in New York. We were just driving across the country, stopping in places like Sioux Falls and Mount Rushmore, and at the end of the trip you’re dropping your kid off who’s never left home before. That was a struggle, but so fun. We look back on those memories quite a bit. At the time, my favorite band was the Dixie Chicks and he was sitting there playing Wide Open Spaces. It was great.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What are Tom Douglas’ favorite places to shop during his travels?

    No place has the amount of tiny little specialty shops that Paris has, from books to silver to antique games. And I know the Parisians are lamenting the loss of many of the shops, but they still have 10 times more than any place else. I love rare books, old first-edition signed cookbooks. I got to Kitchen Arts & Letters in New York. I’m a big fan of Gump’s in San Francisco, although it’s not as good as it used to be. Shreve and Co. [in San Francisco] has good china, but overpriced. What’s going to happen and there’s no retail left on the street?
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What are Tom Douglas’ favorite places to shop during his travels?

    No place has the amount of tiny little specialty shops that Paris has, from books to silver to antique games. And I know the Parisians are lamenting the loss of many of the shops, but they still have 10 times more than any place else. I love rare books, old first-edition signed cookbooks. I got to Kitchen Arts & Letters in New York. I’m a big fan of Gump’s in San Francisco, although it’s not as good as it used to be. Shreve and Co. [in San Francisco] has good china, but overpriced. What’s going to happen and there’s no retail left on the street?
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What is Tom Douglas’ favorite thing to bring home from his travels?

    When we travel, we bring home china or silver. So we have platters from all over the world from different places that we’ve been. We have 18 sets of china at our house. My wife collects sterling silverware and service pieces. That’s our go-to when we are in any part of the world.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What does Tom Douglas always travel with?

    On longer trips I bring slippers and a robe. When we stayed in Paris for five weeks, we stayed in a flat and it was really nice to get up and put on your own robe aarnd slippers. It makes you feel at home, but I don’t normally do that.
     
    I always travel with cookbooks. My favorite things to do when I get exceptional service — whether it’s on the airplane or in the restaurant — is to sign a book for someone who made that trip extraordinary. I think they get a kick out of it, and I feel good about it. My book’s got my picture on the front so it’s like a business card. I always carry a book or two just for those occasions. Sadly enough, on 50 percent of my trips I don’t give my book away.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What does Tom Douglas always travel with?

    On longer trips I bring slippers and a robe. When we stayed in Paris for five weeks, we stayed in a flat and it was really nice to get up and put on your own robe aarnd slippers. It makes you feel at home, but I don’t normally do that.
     
    I always travel with cookbooks. My favorite things to do when I get exceptional service — whether it’s on the airplane or in the restaurant — is to sign a book for someone who made that trip extraordinary. I think they get a kick out of it, and I feel good about it. My book’s got my picture on the front so it’s like a business card. I always carry a book or two just for those occasions. Sadly enough, on 50 percent of my trips I don’t give my book away.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What does Tom Douglas always travel with?

    On longer trips I bring slippers and a robe. When we stayed in <a href="http://www.forbestravelguide.com/destination/paris">Paris</a> for five weeks, we stayed in a flat and it was really nice to get up and put on your own robe aarnd slippers. It makes you feel at home, but I don’t normally do that.
     
    I always travel with cookbooks. My favorite things to do when I get exceptional service — whether it’s on the airplane or in the restaurant — is to sign a book for someone who made that trip extraordinary. I think they get a kick out of it, and I feel good about it. My book’s got my picture on the front so it’s like a business card. I always carry a book or two just for those occasions. Sadly enough, on 50 percent of my trips I don’t give my book away.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What are Tom Douglas’ favorite hotels?

    Grand Hotel et de Milan is fantastic. It’s right near Teatro alla Scala, so right downtown. I’ve been staying in New York recently at The Greenwich Hotel. I like it for a couple of reasons. One is that it’s uniquely quiet, and located in a neighborhood area. I’ve always stayed kind of Midtown, Uptown, but I really like that hotel. I also like the fact that it has kind of a private dining area for people that are staying there — often you get a hotel with a great restaurant and you can’t get in, but here you can sit on the quiet side. It’s got a real fireplace with real wood. As a matter of fact, sometimes it smokes you out of there.
     
    In Seattle, the Hotel Ändra is a terrific spot, and it’s where my restaurant Lola is located. It’s one of the nicer hotels in Seattle. It’s a good scale, maybe 110 rooms. It’s got a modern, Scandinavian design and is very comfy. I send a lot of people there; it’s right in my ‘hood, and people just love it.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What are Tom Douglas’ favorite hotels?

    Grand Hotel et de Milan is fantastic. It’s right near Teatro alla Scala, so right downtown. I’ve been staying in New York recently at The Greenwich Hotel. I like it for a couple of reasons. One is that it’s uniquely quiet, and located in a neighborhood area. I’ve always stayed kind of Midtown, Uptown, but I really like that hotel. I also like the fact that it has kind of a private dining area for people that are staying there — often you get a hotel with a great restaurant and you can’t get in, but here you can sit on the quiet side. It’s got a real fireplace with real wood. As a matter of fact, sometimes it smokes you out of there.
     
    In Seattle, the Hotel Ändra is a terrific spot, and it’s where my restaurant Lola is located. It’s one of the nicer hotels in Seattle. It’s a good scale, maybe 110 rooms. It’s got a modern, Scandinavian design and is very comfy. I send a lot of people there; it’s right in my ‘hood, and people just love it.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Tom Douglas answered the question: Tom Douglas

    What are Tom Douglas’ favorite cities?

    I’m a big fan of walking cities. So my favorites are San Francisco or Vancouver, British Columbia. Milan is one of my favorite cities, and I think walking around Rome is the coolest thing ever with the historic areas and the ease of which you can get around. New York is a great walking town, and what I love about it is that is has this depth of scale because of its density. In Seattle, if you want to eat Afghan food or Syrian food, you might have two or three options. In New York, you have 10 of each, if not more. The intensity there is just something else.
     
    What I love about San Francisco — and I think it’s as good or better restaurant town than New York — is the organic nature of the service. Every restaurant has Danny Meyer-style service — informed, thoughtful, friendly. That’s just the nature of the restaurants on the West Coast compared to New York. Seattle is also a great walking town — I love this town. I now have 15 different food businesses here.