Lummi Island, WA – A behind the scenes look at the 2nd Annual First Harvest Dinner at The Willows Inn Restaurant

Follow Me Foodie to The Willows Inn First Harvest Dinner

A behind the scenes look at the 2nd Annual First Harvest dinner at The Willows Inn on Lummi Island.

So you thought I already wrote about the juiciest and sauciest parts of the 2nd Annual First Harvest dinner at The Willows Inn? As good as Blaine’s carrot juice and Grant’s oyster and chicken velouté was, the behind the scenes look is always just as exciting.

Although I didn’t get to witness the series of events leading up to the epic dinner, I did get to eat it which is just as rewarding. If I had seen the behind the scenes, I probably would have appreciated the dinner even more than I already did. I know lots of time and effort went into this dinner, but I didn’t realize the extent the chefs went to source their ingredients. I was told in advance that most ingredients, if not all, would be fished and foraged right on Lummi Island, but the chefs really got down and dirty just to make this all happen.

The chefs had very little preparation until they got there, which makes the dinner that much more impressive. It was Cast Away meets the Hunger Games meets Lord of the Flies meets Hook… or am I just naming movies and books with some food scenes that took place on fairy tale islands and dense forests? Anyway, here are the beautiful snap shots (photo credit: Charity Burggraaf) of how it all went down.

The 2nd Annual First Harvest Guest Chefs

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (1)From left to right: Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA), Grant Achatz (Alinea, Chicago), Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn, San Francisco), Justin Yu (Oxheart, Houston), Virgilio Martinez (Central Restaurante, Lima, Peru), and Blaine Wetzel (The Willows Inn, Washington). Read more about the chefs in my post here.

On Loganita Farm (The Willows Inn farm)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (2)
Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (3)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (4)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (6)Mary (farm Manager for Loganita) taking the chefs’ orders. Poor girl forgot her notebook and didn’t have paper on hand.

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (7) Grant and sous chef Eric Rivera giving Mary their order.

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (5)I think Justin made a request for these, and it was the most challenging and unexpected ingredient for Mary to supply. He wanted the tiniest baby zucchinis with the flower still attached. (Don’t get ideas Blaine… )

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (27)A few chefs also put in orders for nasturtiums, so Mary had to pick at least a few hundred of these. I think Chris asked for a hundred the size of a quarter just for his dish. The nature of the dinner (pun intended) called for specifics.

Foraging on Lummi Island

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (8)
Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (9)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (10)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (11)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (12)I noticed a few courses using dried seaweed as the seasoning salt, and now I know why. I am not sure how many kelp varieties are found throughout Lummi Island, but I must have tried at least a few without even knowing.

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (13)

Reef Net Fishing

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (15)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (14)

Behind the scenes of The Willows Inn kitchen…

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (16)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (17)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (18)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (19)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (20)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (21)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (23)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (24)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (25)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (26)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (28)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (29)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (31)

Preparing for service…

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (32)
Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (34)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (33)The leather bound menus with messages from the chefs.

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (35)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (36)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (37)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (39)

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (40)The Willows Inn First Harvest dinner sunset.

2nd Annual First Harvest Dinner

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (41)Oysters & Turnips – Justine Yu

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (50)Salmon & Barley – Dominique Crenn

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (51)Romaine Root – Christopher Kostow

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (42)Gazpacho – Grant Achatz

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (43)Peas & Raspberries – Justin Yu

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (44)Kelp (Only served for the first seating)

Lummi Island First Harvest at Willows Inn (25)Smoked Sockeye Salmon - Blaine Wetzel

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (48)Ceviche – Virgilio Martinez

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (52)Kohlrabi – Christopher Kostow

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (49)Potato – Justin Yu

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (54)Venison – Dominique Crenn

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (45)Swiss Chard – Grant Achatz

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (53)Duck – Virgilio Martinez

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (56)Hearth Bread with Butter & Chicken Drippings – Blaine Wetzel

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (55)Lummi Island Chicken – Grant Achatz

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (57)Escarole – Blaine Wetzel

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (46)Pork – Christopher Kostow

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (58)Squash Blossom – Justin Yu

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (47)Berries – Dominique Crenn

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (59)Woodruff Ice Cream – Blaine Wetzel

Willows Inn First Harvest Lummi Island  Behind the Scenes (60)Blueberries – Blaine Wetzel

Midnight snack… aka “Staff Meal”

Lummi Island First Harvest at Willows Inn (83) (Custom)The Willows Inn style nachos…

Lummi Island First Harvest at Willows Inn (86) (Custom)With foraged dill and garlic or onion flowers (?)

Lummi Island First Harvest at Willows Inn (84) (Custom)And I brought these! I wanted to bring them something they couldn’t make… which isn’t much. I wanted something special to Vancouver, even though Lummi Island is only an hour away.

Blaine makes a mean smoked salmon (better than ones I’ve had at home), and maple syrup they can easily get in Washington. Sushi doesn’t last the road trip, but dim sum does! So I brought one of my favourite dim sum items – the Baked BBQ Pork Buns from Top Gun J&C. And yes, I like them specifically from here.

Lummi Island First Harvest at Willows Inn (95) (Custom)And they were a hit! Or they were just hungry?

Kitchen & Guest “After Party”

Lummi Island First Harvest at Willows Inn (93) (Custom)Blaine giving a heartfelt thank you speech.

Mijune Pak Follow Me Foodie Willows Inn chefs 1Blaine Wetzel, Domnique Crenn, Mijune, Justin Yu

Mijune Pak Follow Me Foodie Willows Inn chef Virjilio MartinezVirjilio Martinez, Mijune

Lummi Island First Harvest at Willows Inn (92) (Custom)Chris Kostow with his lovely wife, Martina

Mijune Pak Follow Me Foodie Scott Heimendinger Seattle Food GeekScott Heimendinger @seattlefoodgeek (left) – Director of Applied Research for Modernist Cuisine, Mijune, and Jethro Odom (right) of Jet City Gastrophysics.

Lummi Island First Harvest at Willows Inn (113)Lummi Island beach bonfire… and memories to last a lifetime.


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