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Seattle 'Fish Missionary' Jon Rowley Dies at 74

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Rowley is best known as a landmark Seattle food marketer

Culinary consultant Jon Rowley died Tuesday, October 3, of kidney failure. He was 74 years old. The Seattle-based food industry hero was best known for introducing much of America to Alaskan salmon, oysters, local wild vegetables and fruits such as peaches, and for creating Seattle’s reputation as a food destination.

In the early 1980s Rowley worked closely with the fishermen of Cordova, Alaska, to promote their Copper River salmon, which he believed was the best in the world, to restaurants in Seattle. His efforts turned the fish from destined-to-be-canned to desirable. The effects of his campaign have been long-lasting as the Copper River season is still highly anticipated in Seattle, both in restaurants and at markets. According to the Seattle Times, his friend the famous chef, Julia Child, dubbed him as “The Fish Missionary".

According to Forbes, Rowley worked for the country's largest supplier of oysters, Taylor Shellfish. For 20 years Rowley managed the West Coast Oyster Wine competition, and paired fine wines with oysters. This resulted in his quirky Twitter handle, @oysterwine.

He was the recipient of the Who’s Who in America award from the James Beard Foundation, earned the inaugural Angelo Pellegrini Award (named for the pioneering Seattle-based food writer), and was named to the Saveur 100 for 2008 by Saveur Magazine.

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He passed away in his Vashon Island home, surrounded by family and loved ones.He is survived by his daughters Megan and Caitlin, grandson Dylan Gordon, brother Gary Raymond, and nephews Kai and Tyone Raymond.