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2017 Cooking Program


2017 Tacoma Holiday Food & Gift Festival Cooking Show Host Jackie Fender is the Host of our Cooking for the Holidays program she has been a resident of Tacoma and surrounding areas since she was just a glimmer. She is an industry veteran and is currently a food writer for The Weekly Volcano. Jackie has also been a long time editorial contributor for several publications including the  Tacoma Weekly, City Arts Magazine, South Sound Talk, Post Defiance and South Sound Magazine .

In 2014, she founded local literary non-profit, Creative Colloquy, an organization that supports the South Sound creative culture through unique literary events and publications. Her favorite pastimes include verbally sparring with her teens, wrangling her two youngest and concocting compelling boozy libations.

Host Jackie Fender


Executive Chef Justin Mevs, Lobster Shop On Commencement Bay: Lobster Shop South on Commencement Bay is an award-winning restaurant (voted “Best Restaurant”, “Best Seafood”, “Best Brunch” and “Best Service” in the South Sound) that has long set the standard for fresh, simple, and unique preparations that highlight the flavor of impeccable seafood. Located on the Commencement Bay waterfront, it features majestic views of Mt. Rainier and the rugged Olympic Mountains. Corporate Executive Chef Justin Mevs is an East Coast Native with a lifelong passion for culinary arts and nearly twenty years of management experience. After attending Paul Smith’s College, a culinary institute in upstate New York, Justin served an externship abroad in Burgundy, France, before earning an Applied Science Degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island. Justin assumed the role of Senior Sous Chef at Cutter’s Bayhouse (now Cutter’s Crabhouse) in Seattle for over three years, and returned later to serve as Training Executive Chef. During Justin’s interim from Cutter’s, he opened Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Bellevue, as Executive Chef, and also served as Executive Chef at The Brooklyn, an upscale seafood, steak, and oyster house. In addition to his responsibilities overseeing the kitchens of Lobster Shop South, Boathouse 19, and Tanglewood Grill, Justin successfully operated for over six years his own restaurant in the Belltown area of Seattle, The Lucky Diner.  Stop by The Lobster Shop or call for reservations. 253.759.2165 or visit Executive Chef Justin Mevs

Executive Chef Hudson Slater, Tacoma Yacht Club: Hudson Slater was raised in the Pacific Northwest and has been cooking for Tacoma for the past 10 years. He has was won several cooking competitions in the Tacoma/Seattle area. You can find his recipes in the cookbook A Taste Of Washington. He was recently voted True Cooks All Star Of The Year in s nation wide contest. He is a husband and father of 3 and loves serving the city of Tacoma and the Tacoma Yacht Club through food.

Executive Chef Hudson SlaterHudsonSlaterMaxwells250x300
 boathouse Executive Chef Ta’ani Ma’ama,  Boathouse 19: Boathouse 19 is a casual, comfortable, affordable and fun restaurant situated dockside at the Tacoma Narrows Marina. Honored as “Best New Restaurant” in 2012, and Best Happy Hour 2012-2016, we serve a wide selection of regional American favorite foods with a modern twist. Pacific Northwest seafood, meat from nearby farms, and local produce – when in season – reflect our local heritage.  Fabulous views of the Narrows Bridges, the snow-capped Olympic Mountains, and all the maritime activity of the marina combine to make a visit to Boathouse 19 the quintessential Northwest experience. Ta’ani’s enthusiasm for the culinary arts was sparked during his childhood in Hawaii, where he was surrounded by top quality, fresh ingredients.  He brought his curiosity and natural affinity for hospitality to the mainland (Kitsap Peninsula) while he was still in high school.  Quick to learn and progress, after mastering considerable technical skills Ta’ani served in a management position at Anthony’s Home Port, Bremerton, and then as Chef at Sawatdy Thai Cuisine on Bainbridge Island. He built and led a strong team as Executive Chef (and eventually assistant General Manger) at the very busy Silver City Restaurant & Brewery in Silverdale, WA, before bringing his considerable expertise to Boathouse 19 in 2014. He is a true culinary professional, dedicated to training and developing strong teams. Executive Chef Ta’ani Ma’amaTaani-Maama-for-web

Executive Chef Bill Trudnowski, Adriatic Grill has been a Chef in the Seattle-Tacoma area for over 20 years. In 2000, Bill was recruited by Consolidated Restaurants to become their Corporate Executive Chef. Building the Chef team and overseeing recipes for Metropolitan Grill, Elliott’s Oyster House and Union Square Grill kept Bill passionate about food while fueling his desire to be a restaurateur. All of his years of hard work paid off when he established Adriatic Grill Italian Cuisine and Wine Bar in Tacoma.  The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce awarded the restaurant with the Spotlight on Business Award in June ‘10, recognizing its outstanding business contributions in the community. In addition, South Sound magazine recently honored Chef Trudnowski with the 2011 Best Chef Award. (253) 475-6000

Executive Chef Bill TrudnowskiBill-Trudnowski
the-art-of-crunch Rhonda Hamlin owner of The Art of Crunch is the “heart child” of Rhonda Hamlin, a single mom striving to keep up with the needs of two children and several pets. Rhonda began perfecting the recipe for her luscious biscotti 10 years ago after winning a blue ribbon at the Western Washington Fair. During those 10 years friends and family have encouraged and supported her in her efforts to share her biscotti with the community.
The word “crunch” is a pretty ordinary, self defining word. We all have favorite foods that give us the sound and sensation of crunching. The Art of Crunch elevates crunch and biscotti from the ordinary to the exceptional. Everyone has eaten their share of everyday biscotti, but Rhonda’s biscotti are a taste celebration. They are unique in that they both crunch and melt in your mouth with an intensely rich flavor that continues to make you smile after you’ve eaten your last bite.
Rhonda Hamlin


Executive Chef Eddie Williams, JW Restaurant: JW is located in downtown Gig Harbor.  JW offers a personal experience for the guest in which no detail is overlooked, and southern hospitality is realized.  What is the fare and style of JW???  It’s simple…Honest Food and Honest Prices.  Welcome Home Gig Harbor!!!  JW is voted South Sound’s “Best” for the 5th year in a row.  Thanks to all of our loyal guests for voting JW “The Best” again in 2015, this year for “Best Romantic Dinner” & “Best Chef in the South Sound!” Chef Eddie Williams


Chef Dylan Loney, Farrelli’s Wood Fire Pizza: John, Margaret and Jacque Farrell founded “Farrelli’s Pizza and Pool Co.” in 1995 in Lacey, WA. They emphasized ‘quality’ understanding that focusing on making the best products and offering great customer service would earn customer loyalty. This positioning strategy has also served them well throughout the years, with achievements such as the Independent Pizzeria of the Year Award in 2006 by Pizza Today magazine, as well as numerous other local and national awards recognizing superior quality and commendable growth

Chef Dylan Lonely


LaDonna Olmstead, Tea Madame Tea Shop: We are a premium tea merchant specializing in high quality, hand-produced, loose leaf teas and herbs. We believe in fresh, authentic and affordable loose leaf teas. All teas and herbs are hand selected by Owner LaDonna Olmstead for your enjoyment. We strive to be passionately knowledgeable about our products and love to share that enthusiasm with our customers. From the true tea beginner to the seasoned enthusiast, the Tea Madame has something for everyone. The Tea Madame Tea Shop is located in picturesque Sumner at the Windmill Gardens’ Nursery and is open for business daily from 10-5. (253) 891-2900

LaDonna Olmstead

Executive Chef Tom Pantly, Toscano’s Italian Grill: Serving the Puyallup Valley with fresh seafood, aged steaks, fine wines and cocktails. Soft lights and warm wood. A perfectly grilled steak. Aromatic martini clams. Cocktails that stimulate the imagination and wine that warms the soul. This is Toscanos. The owners and staff are proud to have served the Puyallup area these past 10 years. We deeply appreciate the support we have been given by the community and look forward to many more years of fun, friendship and good food! Executive Chef Tom Pantley was recently certified as a “Specialist of Wine” by the Society of Wine Educators. This title is awarded to people who complete a rigorous course of study regarding wine knowledge and mastery of key elements within the worlds of viticulture and wine production. This certification is widely recognized by the international wine and spirits industry. Chef Pantley hopes this will be a first step to eventually becoming a Sommelier. 253-864-8600

Executive Chef Tom Pantly
Kitchen Beautician, Aura Mae: Aura has been creating beautiful hair since 1987. She turned her focus to creating beautiful food in 2004 when she moved into a house with an expansive kitchen that just cried out for puttering.  Needing to help control her husband’s diabetes, Aura cleared out the pantry of packaged foods and worked on learning how to cook delicious food from scratch. She learned from TV chefs, cooking blogs and experimentation. When she hit a wall, she would troubleshoot with her friends in the restaurant business.  Her healthy approach to home cooking has paid off in a dramatic weight loss for both Aura and her husband. Using lots of vegetables and fewer refined carbohydrates with plenty of healthy fats and protein, Aura designs great tasting meals that support both good health and a healthy ecology. Aura Mae
Executive Chef Kris Blondin, STINK Chesse-Meat: Born and raised in Tacoma, Kris is the former owner of Vin Grotto Cafe & Wine Bar and is now the owner of STINK Cheese-Meat, whee she specializes in fine cheese, meats, and old-world inspired wines and beer.  Kris has written columns for the Weekly volcano, contributed to Culture Magazine and continues to conduct cooking and beverage pairing seminars for organizations like the Tacoma Farmer’s Market, Gig Harbor Food & Wine Festival, Tacoma Community College and Metro Parks Tacoma.  Kris loves to eat, drink and talk about it all!  Her style of teaching is down to earth and smattered with humor. Kris Blondin
the-mill Executive Chef Alexander Anton, The Mill Restaurant and Bar:I am a third generation chef in the Pacific Northwest. My grandfather, Tony Anton had several restaurants in downtown Tacoma, and then my father, James Anton and uncle, Basil Anton followed the same path and came to own several restaurants of their own. Having grown up in a restaurant family, I spent nearly all of my free time with my father at the restaurants learning the craft. It was here I gained the passion for food and hospitality that ultimately led to my chosen profession. It was from my father that I learned the hard work and discipline required to be a chef. Although I never attended culinary school, it was the long hours and my fathers’ demand for excellence that rooted the base to my ever continuing gastronomic education. I eventually left home and ended up in Hood River, Oregon at the Columbia Gorge Hotel; a beautiful historic property that sits atop a 200 foot waterfall into the Columbia River. It was here that I honed my skills and gained my “formal” training, under the tutelage of a classically French trained chef named Jeffrey Croke. We came to be good friends, almost like brothers during my time in the Gorge. He encouraged me to read all the books and work through all of the exercises that I would’ve been exposed to in culinary school. I worked at the hotel for several years as the Executive Sous Chef and even a short time as the Executive Chef once he had decided to move on. Once my time in Hood River came to an end, I made my way back to the Tacoma area. Executive Chef Alexander Anton

  Pit Master Saffron, Bush Kitchen: Finishing her sixth season of competitive BBQ Saffron is a well know competitor across America, Canada and Australia. Although primarily focused on BBQ she has extensive experience in all aspects of live fire cooking including Dutch oven, camp cooking and grilling, most recently stretching herself to compete in Chuck Wagon which focuses on the skills and methods used by cowboys in the late 1800’s. Her cooking style is minimal taking advantage of the characteristics of live fire over a wide range of ingredients, making her recipes easily replicable in the backyard or while camping. Saffron Hodgson


happy-belly Executive Chef Abigail Bardwell, Happy Belly: Abigail Bardwell was born in Little Rock, AR. and is a chef, writer, multimedia artist and admirer of all Asian cuisine. Her modern cooking inspirations are Anthony Bourdain, David Chang, Richard Blais, Masaharu Moritmoto and René Redzepi. She remembers sitting in front of the TV as a kid admiring the greats: Graham Kerr, Mario Batali, Julia Child, Emeril Lagasse and Jacques Pépin. Abigail became an executive chef by the time she was 22 years old. Cooking has allowed her to connect with people on an extremely personal level, and she feels very fortunate to have found her passion in life. Abigail has said that if she had to eat one thing for the rest of her life, it would be Laotian food. Abigail is the sous chef at Happy Belly in the great community of Tacoma, WA. In the future, her goals are to create a sustainable culinary school for at-risk youth. Another culinary goal is to start a farm-to-table Asian-American Southern pop-up inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s cook Walden. When she isn’t cooking, Abigail spends most of her time with her boyfriend Justin, her incredibly supportive parents, and her two silly kitties: Danzig and Beatrix. Chef Abigail Bardwell


rhein-haus Executive Chef Kelly Wilson, Rhein Haus:Born and raised throughout Southern California, Kelly credits his love of food and cooking to the adventurous palates of his parents and the classically honed kitchen of his grandmother. Kelly’s introduction to professional cooking begin at the age of 16, when he took an internship position as a dishwasher/prep cook at the Summit House. His time and effort their allowed him to advance through the ranks, until deciding to attend the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena.  During his training, he volunteered his time to private events for chefs Alice Waters, Joachim Splichal and Wolfgang Puck.  While receiving his applied arts degree through Le Cordon Bleu program, he was simultaneously hired as a sous chef by the school’s restaurant, 561. After graduation, he moved across country to complete a season in the Hamptons at Sunset Beach and then focused his attention on New York City. At Danny Meyers flagship Restaurant Union Square Cafe, he was introduced to a new level of cooking, hospitality and a Chef de Cuisine that would prove to be his greatest mentor, Dan Silverman. During this time Kelly’s appetite for experience led him to stages at: Gramercy Tavern, Daniel, and WD-50. Ultimately Kelly decided to follow Dan Silverman into his new kitchen at Lever House. Here he became the sous chef of a one star Michelin kitchen and met the hostess who would eventually become his wife. He remained at Lever House for a total of five years, including acting as the interim executive chef during a transition. Kelly once again follow Dan Silverman to open the multi-faceted kitchen and beer garden of the new Standard Hotel in Manhattan. In 2010 Kelly and his new wife moved to Seattle in search of a new life together and to be closer to family. At his first Seattle restaurant, Bastille, he was able to learn about his new city from Chef Jason Stoneburner. During his three years as a sous chef he would work alongside such cooks as: Mannuel Arce (executive chef, Poquitos), Heath Mcreynolds (Head Baker, Rhein Haus), and Pete Fjosne (Executive Chef, Rhein Haus). In 2013, Kelly joined the kitchen at Rhein Haus as a sous chef and after spending three years with Chef Pete Fjosne he is excited to lead the team at the new Rhein Haus in Tacoma, WA. Chef Kelly Wilson