Inside Stories for Local Foodies

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Cover for News Release.jpgMy book is ready! You can buy it for Kindle right now, and the print edition should be ready within a few hours. Here's the release we're sending out:

Veteran Seattle food critic Ronald Holden tells '101 True Tales of Local Food & Drink' in his new book, HOME GROWN SEATTLE, which is being officially released on October 1st. It's a 258-page trade paperback that celebrates the region's culinary history. More than just restaurant listings for newcomers, it's a gossipy reference for local food enthusiasts, filled with stories about the people behind Seattle's kitchens, cafes, bars, farms,vineyards and markets.

"I've been waiting for this book since I was a kid," says The Stranger's associate editor Dominic Holden in the foreword to his father's book. "These were the stories we heard as a restaurant critic's family. They were tales of the Machiavellian power plays and ingenious risks--some ending in wealth and some in utter failure--that the public didn't read. Finally, here, my dad dishes out the stories behind the stories, profiles of the people who made the homegrown scene here taste as good (and occasionally as bad) as it does."

Holden has written about food, wine, and travel for over 40 years. (His earlier books covered the wine country of Washington and Oregon.) HOME GROWN, he explains, is more than a directory of Seattle's restaurant scene, which teems with literally thousands of eateries, but a guide to understanding it. "There are dozens of constantly updated websites, daily emails, weekly news magazines and glossy monthlies that will tell you what to eat in whose trendy establishment. But they do not bother to remind you why, they do not give you any human context."

Hence the "101 True Tales," some fresh, some long-forgotten:

  • A peasant boy from Tuscany--who grew up to become a beloved professor of classics at the UW--was the spiritual godfather to Seattle's grow-your-own food movement.
  • Gordon Bowker, not Howard Schultz, is the true founder of Starbucks. Bowker also launched the Red Hook brewery.
  • The owner of the Pike Place Market, an Italian immigrant named Joe Desimone, kept the Boeing company in Seattle.
  • The Market itself was later saved from "urban renewal" by the designer of the Space Needle.
  • A financial analyst for Safeco Insurance invented the company that became Chateau Ste. Michelle

In his Afterword, David Holden writes, "Seattle didn't magically become a foodie paradise. A lot of people worked hard and took incredible risks. Now, 35 years later, it's paying off. Seattle is a landmark, a food destination. And who better to capture those stories than someone who lived that world, walked the walk, and talked the talk."

HOME GROWN looks under the rug and behind the scenery at several of Seattle's so-called celebrity chefs (the ones regularly featured in glossy magazine articles), and comes down squarely in the camp of family-run neighborhood kitchens (Mamma behind the stove, Dad at the door or tending bar, Sis and Sonny waiting tables). "These places, located along every neighborhood's main drag, can be wildly inconsistent, not so much for the food (though their menus can try too hard to please everyone) but for the rest of the dining experience, ambiance and service. Yet it's here that you find the essence of home grown comfort."

The book ended up being a family affair of its own; all three Holden sons contributed. Michael, the oldest, contributed the cover photography. Dominic, the youngest, wrote the foreword; David, a Hollywood comedy writer, penned the afterword.

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on September 12, 2014 8:00 PM.

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