Dynamic Seattleites: Top Chef, Sabrina Tinsley

Sabrina Tinsley at La Spiga; Photo by Chris Laurion

Trendsetting and trailblazing — this culinary star imports legit Italian fare to Seattleites.

Seattle takes the cake for variety and diversity within an up-and-coming culinary scene that represents strong influences from just about every culture imaginable. As the chef and co-owner of Osteria La Spiga, Sabrina Tinsley is our very own resident authority on Northern Italian cuisine—and believe us, she is serving up some of the best home-made pastas this side of the Atlantic.

Sabrina Tinsley at La Spiga; Photo by Chris Laurion

In addition to creating the freshest and most mouth-watering Tagliatelle al Burro di Tartufo—more simply known as tagliatelle noodles with white Alba Truffle butter—this cook extraordinaire is one of only three Seattle chefs who have been invited to participate in the Food Network’s hit show “Iron Chef America.”

If you are a self-proclaimed foodie and have caught an episode or two of Iron Chef, you know that only the best of the best from across the country are invited to compete against celebrity chefs such as Cat Cora and Mario Batali. Needless to say, this prestige combined with a truly fantastic, innovative and authentic restaurant specializing in Emilia-Romagna cuisine make Tinsley one to watch in the Seattle food scene.

Although she is now a devout Seattleite, Tinsley is originally from Fairbanks, Alaska, where she grew up with a family that was passionate about food and farm-to-table cooking in its purest form. Despite all of this, Tinsley didn’t get truly hooked on food until she left home.

“I didn’t actually realize my passion for food… I grew up with it and I enjoyed eating it but I didn’t realize I loved cooking it until I moved away and went to college,” she said.

We’re pretty happy that she did.

Now, Tinsley is a seasoned chef who has competed against world-renowned chef Bobby Flay, opened a successful piadina (incredible Italian bread—usually made into sandwiches) shop in Italy, and an even more successful restaurant in the heart of our multicultural food mecca in Capitol Hill.

We bet she hosts one heck of a dinner party, too. When asked about her perfect meal, she answered without hesitation: “I love the treasures of the forest—any kind of wild game, wild boar, mushrooms, and berries. So I would have to start with a truffle appetizer… [then] I would like a mushroom porcinni pasta and maybe a wild boar braise or something like that.”

Sounds simple but elegant. Honest but delicious—just like Tinsley’s style of cooking. What’s next for this cutting edge chef?

“We have got a lot of plans and we have a lot of ideas… We feel like we have to maximize this space before we really make our next move,” Tinsley mused. “People always ask, ‘When are you coming to our neighborhood?’ We want to reach out to everybody—not with the exact concept, we want to keep it unique.”

I think we are all nodding along with the same response: “Please, do!” With her warm demeanor and razor sharp skills in the kitchen it is easy to see how Tinsley has become a rising star in the culinary world.

Click here to read about other Dynamic Seattleites.