As an avid fan of both cooking at home and exploring Seattle’s vibrant restaurant scene, I was stoked to learn of Julien Perry’s new cookbook, Seattle Cooks. Featuring 80 never-before-published recipes from 40 of the city’s best restaurants, Seattle Cooks opens the door for some of your favorite meals to come home.
I recently spoke with Julien Perry to learn more about the inspiration behind Seattle Cooks, including her process for choosing the 40 restaurants highlighted in the cookbook.
Seattleite: From Chefodex to the ONO Project and now Seattle Cooks, your work has a threaded theme of connecting Seattle’s revered kitchen talent with the community—what inspires this work?
Julien: I think it’s as simple as I just really like the people in the food and restaurant industry. I find them fascinating. And typically, they’re really down-to-earth people—many of whom have become good friends of mine. I also know how hard they work and if I can help in any way, whether it be by telling their story, publishing their recipes or helping them find some side hustles, I feel honored to be able to assist in that way.
S: Was authoring a cookbook a life goal of yours? In other words, why did you author Seattle Cooks?
J: You know, I never even considered writing a cookbook. The opportunity presented itself to me out of the blue last April when Figure 1 Publishing contacted me and asked if I’d like to author Seattle Cooks. It was to be the second U.S. city in their “city cooks” anthology and they considered me someone who was well-suited to tackle the project. I could not be more grateful!
S: With so many outstanding chefs and restaurants to highlight in Seattle, how did you narrow down the list to 40?
J: First and foremost, I wanted to reach out to chefs who had name recognition in Seattle—or who would have name recognition by the time this book came out. I also wanted to work with chefs who I considered reliable and flexible. This was a nearly year-long project and it needed to be a team effort. And fun!
S: I love the idea of getting to create some of my favorite meals I’ve had while eating out in Seattle at home. While my final result is always different in some ways than the meal at the restaurant, I love getting to put my own spin on things. What do you hope for readers of Seattle Cooks to gain?
J: More than anything, I hope the book inspires them. If not to cook, then to go visit some of the restaurants in the book—or even restaurants that are not in the book. This city’s restaurant landscape is changing at a rapid clip, and chefs are doing incredible things. It’s the perfect time to support your neighborhood establishments.
S: Can you share a bit about the process for choosing which recipes to feature from each restaurant?
J: All of the recipes in this book had never been published prior to Seattle Cooks, so that was one of the guidelines for submission. The recipes also had to be familiar to diners of the restaurant. A perfect example is Tom Douglas’s crab cakes. That dish represents his restaurant group more than any dish. Same goes for the eggplant fries from Poppy and the blintzes from Bruce Naftaly, which were wildly popular at his former restaurant, Le Gourmand and have now migrated to his new place, Marmite. These recipes not only reflect the chefs who compile them, they are recognizable to the diner in some fashion, even if it’s just technique or ingredient profiles, like Ethan Stowell’s simple yet perfect bigoli with bread crumbs, chiles and anchovies. If you’ve never eaten that dish before, I bet you could guess it was an Ethan recipe!
S: What was something you enjoyed most while creating Seattle Cooks?
J: I loved the teamwork, and I am someone who is not a “team” kind of person! I love [being] independent, but getting to work with these chefs every single one of them—was an incredible experience. They worked so hard and were so responsive and lovely. Their attention to detail and timelines made this book what it is and I could not be more proud of them.
There are few things I love more than cooking at home with friends. I’m looking forward to taking dishes that I have shared with friends around a table at one of our favorite restaurants and recreating them at home with Seattle Cooks.
Pick up your copy of Seattle Cooks at many of the restaurants featured in the book, as well as anywhere books are sold.