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2018 Cooking Program (more updates coming)


2018 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 Hudson Slater, Asado: 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

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
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