Explore Pacific Northwest Cuisine with Tom Douglas

Over the years, the chef members of the Council have shared their considerable expertise, time, and recipes

Regional cuisine is “In” like never before, and thanks to culinary historians, food writers, and talented chefs, American regional food is finally getting its due. 

Whether it’s preserving traditional or historical dishes and foodways, embracing regional diversity and agricultural bounty, or reinventing classics, there are chefs whose raison d’être is celebrating our culinary heritage.

One organization that supports this work is the Macy’s Culinary Council, which is dedicated to improving family meals by encouraging people cook at home. Its members include celebrated chefs like Michelle Bernstein, Rick Bayless, Marcus  Samuelsson, and Tom Douglas.

The Macy’s Culinary Council

Over the years, the chef members of the Council have shared their considerable expertise, time, and recipes in exciting cooking demonstrations designed to inspire Americans “to eat, cook and enjoy food at home - just like a chef.” As chefs, they know that the right ingredients and tools are essential and encourage home cooks to shop at Macy’s for the best quality cookware at the best price.

The best way they can reach the public is through cooking demonstrations and Macy’s makes this happen by hosting demonstrations in stores across the country. During the demonstrations, each chef shares his or her cooking tips, gives advice about how to prepare meals at home with less effort, and provides recipes consumers want to cook and eat. And often guests are able to sample small bites of each chef’s dish and learn more about their style of cooking.

Macy’s Culinary Council Cooking Demonstration in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 14

If you have never tried Northwest cuisine but have always wanted to, you have a rare chance to sample acclaimed Northwest cuisine Guru Tom Douglas’ food at his upcoming demonstration in the Southdale  Center of Edina, Minnesota on May 14. Tom Douglas has been an advocate for, and expert in, Pacific Northwest cuisine since the late 1980s and he is a three-time James Beard Foundation Award winner. His love of the region and its foodways is part of the amazing regional food movement going on across our country and he has been at the vanguard of the now cliché farm-to-table trend.

What’s on the Menu

Right about now you’re probably dying to know what you can expect at Tom Douglas’ demonstration. As with all of his dishes, his food reflects his love of Americana and the rich larder available in Washington State. The recipes he will be demonstrating include fresh strawberries with basil honey yogurt and granola; a savory cornbread and maple sausage pudding; Dungeness crab salad with asparagus, avocado with lime vinaigrette, and virgin Bloody Mary with pickled asparagus.

Cook like a Chef with Easy Recipes

Tom Douglas chose to demonstrate these dishes because they reflect his “support for the best local ingredients that abound in the beautiful Pacific Northwest such as sweet Dungeness crab, local asparagus (Washington state produces 40% of the asparagus grown in this country), and our fleeting but super sweet and fragrant local strawberry season.  The menu also reflects my love of straightforward, rustic, American home cooking.” In addition to being served at Etta’s, one of Tom’s restaurants, the cornbread pudding (sans sausage) and crab and avocado salad with lime vinaigrette, and virgin Bloody Mary with pickled asparagus from Tom’s popular cookbook, Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen, while the granola is served at Dahlia Bakery and also appears in the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook that is now a staple on bookstore shelves.

A Distinct Culinary Point of View

Tom Douglas’ deep, abiding appreciation for the land, farmers, and the provenance of our food has elevated his guests’ dining experience. His uncompromising dedication to food quality has raised diners’ expectations of the food products that make it onto his plates, and he openly credits Alice Waters as an important influence and his quest for quality. He has made the dining public in Seattle, and parts beyond, appreciate the gorgeous produce available in Washington. When Alice Waters began working directly with farmers to supply her restaurant with the best vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, and other foodstuffs—her determination to change the food chain and our cuisine inspired generations of chefs, including Tom Douglas, to carry the torch.

His enthusiastic embrace of Alice Water’s farm-centric cooking principles was evident in his first restaurant, Dahlia Lounge, which he opened in Seattle, Washington in 1989. He and Jackie Cross, his wife and business partner, never questioned how they would supply their restaurant and naturally sourced everything they could locally, from whole pigs and lambs, to cheese, meat, seafood, produce, fruit, and other foods. And when they couldn’t get enough local produce, they bought a 20 acre farm in Prosser, Washington and started to grow their own vegetables.

The farm’s prolific harvests produce about 60,000 pounds of fresh produce each year, all of which is used in their dozen or so restaurants, bakeries, and food businesses. Each restaurant has a distinct vibe, culinary point of view, or cuisine, but the common thread they all share is a refusal to ever stint on the quality of the raw products used to create delicious food. This devotion to the earth’s bounty and exceptional cooking has earned Tom Douglas three James Beard Foundation awards: first in 1994 for Best Chef Northwest, Best Americana Cookbook for Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen in 2001,and Outstanding Restaurateur in 2012.

Chef Tom Douglas also wants home cooks to be advocates for great food and encourages them to, “Always use ingredients that are freshest, best, and in season from the region that you live in.  Use good technique, but make sure the quality of the ingredients shines through. I grew up in a big family in Delaware and have a great respect for the kind of American home cooking that was prepared by my mother and Grandmother. 

When I moved to Seattle, I enthusiastically promoted the fish, shellfish, wild mushrooms, berries, and other foods abundant in this region. I was also influenced by Seattle’s large Asian population, especially by dining frequently in Seattle’s International District and learning about Japanese and Chinese ingredients and products.  I continually pick up influences by traveling nationally and internationally, such as my many trips to Italy.  Prosser Farm reflects my, and Jackie’s, deepening interest in getting close to the land and the producers and putting vegetables at the center of the plate.”

Cook at Home Like a Chef

When asked what he loves about American food, Tom Douglas replied, “I love American cuisine because it’s what I grew up with.  I have been visiting Italy for the last 30 years and have fallen in love with the cuisine of the Piemonte region and my wife is Italian—so I get a taste of that cuisine with her family.” To help Americans cook well at home, his recipes are easy and, “the entire menu is very accessible for the home cook—it all depends on the quality of your ingredients.” He also feels that a few of the dishes he will be demonstrating reflect his distinct style, like avocado salad, about which he says, “Vinaigrette goes a long way—you can combine just fresh or steamed vegetables and fresh crab with a good vinaigrette and it’s a great way to get started on balanced, seasonal, healthy meals. Most of the recipes in my cookbooks are accessible for home cooks and all recipes in my cookbooks reflect my distinct cooking style.”

If home cooks want to cook local, Tom Douglas suggests they do like he does in his own kitchen, “I just incorporate whatever is seasonal and fresh, the important thing is to get out into the farmers market and pick up what’s at its most delicious! One of my favorite foods, still, is Asian food. “I love exposing people to the different ways you can use the Chinese bamboo steamer—a piece of salmon with butter and ginger and a splash of sake or rose is as delicious as life gets!”

Chef Douglas suggests you will cook more at home if you make preparing the meal a social occasion. “Take a stroll through the markets, enjoy the procurement and turn on some great music while you get the meal going. Being a good cook is mostly about practice.  Pick something you want to get good at and keep working on it. Find a cookbook you like and follow the recipes exactly a time or two before you put your own riff on it. I like to listen to the Dixie Chicks and Brandi Carlile while I’m cooking, unless I’m going low and slow, and then it’s Bruce Springsteen.

To be a good cook you also have to have the right cookware and his recommendations for equipment are: “Be sure you have a good knife; I have my own line of knives, and as I mentioned, that bamboo steamer.  And an immersion blender is really handy.  Don’t underestimate a good cast iron pan!”

Event Details and Special Offers

Date: May 14, 2016

Time: 12:00 p.m.

Venue: Macy’s Southdale of Edina, Minnesota

Location: 3rd Floor, Culinary Kitchen

Price per person: Free

We’re celebrating American Icons at Macy’s! Join Macy’s Culinary Council Chef Tom Douglas as he shows you how to prepare some of his favorite award-winning dishes. The best part? There will be plenty of scrumptious samples and music to enjoy! After the demonstration, stick around and explore the latest in cookware and gadgets for your kitchen. Plus, with any purchase of $35*or more in the Home department, receive a $10 Macy’s gift card, and a copy of Tom Douglas’ book, The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook,** he will sign for you! 

Seating is limited, to RSVP please call: 1-877-556-2297 beginning May 2nd from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  CST Monday through Saturday, and Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. CST.

To learn more about the Macy’s Culinary Council and upcoming events, log on to macys.com/culinarycouncil

Follow us on Twitter: @CulinaryCouncil

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Event subject to change or cancellation. Seating is first come, first served.*Purchase must be made at Macy’s Southdale on May 14, 2016. **One per customer, while supplies last and time permits. Gift card valid May 14 - 21, 2016 only. Gift card and books distributed on May 14, 2016.