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2018 Cooking Program





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.

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, Jonz: Born and raised in Tacoma, Kris is the former owner of STINK and Vin Grotto Cafe & Wine Bar.  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


Executive Chef Abigail Bardwell: 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. 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


Executive Chef Jon Maley, Chuch: Chef Jon Maley was born in a small farm town in New Jersey. Growing up next to a farm and having goats of his own, he learned what it meant to put in a hard day’s work. At age ten he moved with his family to California where he later experienced the west coast food scene to its fullest. After working through high school at some casual restaurants, Chef Jon hit the road and traveled the United States for a few years working in kitchens throughout the states. He later returned to California and joined the F.O.H. team and got a feel for what it feels like to serve others. In 2004, Chef Jon realized that food was his obsession, and went to Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco. After graduating, he stared his career at 5 diamond awarded Lafayette Park Hotel. He later went to work under Michelin Starred Chef Roland Passot as a Sous Chef of Left Bank Brasserie in the East Bay.

Jon’s true dream was to own a restaurant of his own, his concept is called ChūcH. He launches Pop Up events every couple of months in different locations, all on his off time. Keep an eye out for these memorable experiences.

Chef Jon Maley

Chef Jan Parker: Chef Jan Z. Parker recently moved back to Tacoma, WA from Wiesbaden, Germany.  During her time in Germany, she created Culinary Curriculum for all ages and taught classes for the USO Rhein-Main Region & the local Community Spouses Club.  Chef Jan was a regular on the Armed Forces Network Radio station and was featured several times on the same network TV station.  Her past experience includes cooking for a 5-Star hotel at The Four Season in Seattle, catering on yachts, and assisting with the food program at a private estate.  Other contributions include working as a Set Lead on the Emmy Award-winning PBS show Nick Stellino Cooking with Friends and as a Production Assistant at the Food Network South Beach Food & Wine Festival.  She recently started, Jan Parker Cookery LLC, a business offering Culinary Classes, Filipino food at the Proctor Farmer’s Market, and Boodle Fight Pop-Up events.

Boodle Fight is a military tradition in the Philippines where all ranks dine together at one table.  The food is placed on banana leaves and the diners eat with their hands (Kamayan).  This style of dining symbolizes camaraderie & unity.  One of her accomplishments this year was being mentioned by Eater Seattle in “Try These Seattle Pop-Ups Before They Disappear”. Giving back to the community is really important to Chef Jan.  She continues to give back to military spouses by running a cooking club at JBLM in Tacoma and is also involved in several projects collaborating with Filipinos from the Tacoma/Seattle area.

Chef Jan Parker

Pastry Chef Shannon Smith: “Food is the tie that binds us. It breaks down walls, it brings us together when words fail, and can even open hearts. It is the universal language. I often say if you want me to talk incessantly about a subject…bring up food and pull up a chair.”

“My first memories are ones of being in the kitchen with my mom. I can still vividly remember baking my first loaf of bread. I was three. I wore a blue flower shirt and the sun was bright on the white walls of the kitchen. I baked my tiny little loaf in a metal measuring cup. The warm inviting aroma of freshly baked bread was heavy in the air. I was so happy and proud. I was hooked.”

Shannon has taken many career paths (Medical assistant, retail manager, fitness model, personal trainer…) but cooking always had her heart and pulled her back in every single time. Shannon is self taught and earned the title of chef by “sheer stubbornness” and passion. “I have been in and out of kitchens forever.” From high school as the AM baker at her local café, to four star hotel kitchens (making dessert for Martha Stewart was a highlight) as well as owning her own cake business. Before recently stepping out of the kitchen, the last role she held was Executive Pasty Chef at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.  “An event hall of that size is no joke. From The Nutcracker, to the Seattle International Film Festival…there was never a dull moment.”  She is currently with Provvista/Chefs Warehouse and it’s a beautiful merging of both worlds. “I get to see my kids more, explore restaurants in the city, venture in and out of kitchens all day, and talk relentless about food.”


Pastry Chef Shannon Smith