Sea and Smoke celebrates a love for the sights, scents and flavours of a coastal land.
It’s been a long time in the making, but after years of labouring over his work, acclaimed chef Blaine Wetzel has released his book Sea and Smoke: Flavours from the Untamed Pacific Northwest.
This is not just a collection of recipes from his successful restaurant, Willows Inn on Lummi Island. It’s a travelogue which chronicles the life of his remote island restaurant over the course of twelve months.
The story of the restaurant’s success has been told by Joe Ray, an award-winning journalist who immersed himself into the everyday life on Lummi Island during the making of the book. The laid-back island, which has less than 1,000 residents, is considered one of the best-kept secrets of San Juan archipelago.
Being given the opportunity to document Wetzel’s intimate relationship with the coast landscape and its seasonal produce is one Ray embraced whole-heartedly. When he wasn’t learning how to cook a particular dish in the kitchen or on a foraging adventure, Ray could be found in the restaurant’s office writing about the experiences and recipes.
Over nine chapters, Wetzel and Ray have spoken of Lummi Island and its fishermen and small farmers in the pages of Sea and Smoke. There are tales of adventures to the sea and to the farm, and of foraging expeditions.
After a week in the nonstop chaos of the kitchen, it’s easy to understand why, mushrooms or no, Baline and his cooks enjoy a walk in the woods in their free time. Even an intrepid mushroom hunter could leave this forest empty-handed and feel content.
Further into the book, you’ll find recipes which feature a broad array of delicious ingredients and eloquently describe the processes of turning produce into an unforgettable dish.
Alongside the words of Wetzel and Ray are beautiful photographs by Charity Burggraaf, which reflect the island’s foggy, salty-sea coast and provide readers with visual clues on how to plate up the exquisite dishes.
Sea and Smoke isn’t another recipe book. It’s a book you can read from cover to cover as you’re immersed in the mesmerising life on Lummi Island. It transports readers to Wetzel’s world and offers them the opportunity to emulate his creative, culinary visions. And for those who lack the cooking skills required, it also looks great on a coffee table.
The forward of the book written by Grant Achatz shares one’s understanding of Wetzel’s cooking and island restaurant. After eating a simple smoked mussel prepared by Wetzel, Achatz says it was an ‘ah ha’ moment.
I knew then why he was here on this remote, tiny island using the surrounding environment to evoke a true sense of place with his cooking. Blaine was teaching his guests about Lummi Island, telling its story through his cooking
You can find Sea and Smoke: Flavours from the Untamed Pacific Northwest on the shelves of Eco showrooms.