I’ve moved!

Hi! This blog has moved to it’s new permanent home at www.incrediblechef.com.  I’ve got some great stuff planned for 2010 so please come visit and re-subscribe…thanks so much for your continued reading! 🙂


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3 Guiding Words for 2010

If you are a resolution-maker and goal-setter, you might be terrified of coming up with just three scant words to build your New Year’s vision.  I know I was – how could three simple words sum up a year of great intentions?!

However, after reading social media advisor Chris Brogan’s post Wiring Yourself for Success,  I’ve been inspired to play the game of choosing just three words to guide my actions, frame my thinking and measure my results for 2010. It’s a scary exercise for someone used to writing many words and describing things in greater detail – but here we go.

First, a clarification on Brogan’s process, which he began in 2006. The selection of three guiding words for the year is different from setting resolutions and goals since those two things have end points – meaning once you accomplish them, then what? You have to continually come up with more, better, etc. The use of three big-picture words as a compass point allows there to be constant growth, improvisation, interpretation, adjustment, etc. – similar to Keith Ferrazzi’s concept of performance goals vs. learning goals in his best-seller “Who’s Got Your Back?”

Here’s an example Ferrazzi gives:  You want to lose 10 pounds.  That’s a performance goal – you either hit the mark or you don’t.  Which means if you lose 9 pounds, you potentially could feel that you “failed” and fell short of your goal?  (this is why many people fail on diets!) The other side of the coin would be to set a learning goal of taking classes to cook healthier meals.  This has a long-term effect that will likely allow you to achieve your performance goal, but even if you don’t hit the 10 pound loss, you still have gained a valuable skill in your life with long-lasting health benefits. So, we want learning goals, yes?

Without further ado, my words for 2010 – Balance, Improvement, Perspective.

Balance – this is an concept I think about a lot, and continually strive to achieve. Am I playing more than working? Am I eating enough of the right kinds of food? Does my client load make sense and support my overall company goals? Do I spend too much time watching reality TV?

By choosing balance as a compass point for the year, I can measure virtually any idea/option/choice against its alternative.  The cool thing is, the definition of balance will be different on any given day (depending on the circumstances), which will allow me to live more “in the moment”, a concept previously not well-known to me! This will be a big change, for sure.

Improvement – isn’t this something we all hope for, in most areas of life? And therefore it makes a great barometer; instead of setting unreachable numerical goals, there can be satisfaction by at least being “better” than yesterday, or last time we tried. It seems many resolutions are blown the first time you do (or don’t do) something, so there’s no way to really satisfy the intention.  But if there was a continual raising of the bar over time, isn’t that a better measure?

Obviously, change doesn’t just happen.  It’s a process, slow but steady. In the book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins talks about successful businesses and how continual 1% improvement has such a significant cumulative effect.  For example, If you could improve a behavior or accomplishment by 1% per day (a small feat, right?), you’d be 50% better in about 7 weeks.  It’s hard to be motivated to go from selling 100 widgets a day to 150 per day, overnight. However, continual incremental improvement makes the goal possible, and worth working towards.

Perspective – whoa, this is a big one for me…and maybe for you too. As the saying goes, everyone just wants to know the WIIFM – What’s In It For Me! We all have our unique perspectives of life and what transpires, and it’s often so hard to put yourself in another shoes and wonder how it is for them. Or is that just me? Also, keeping perspective as an over-arching theme this year will help minimize the “woe is me” attitude or “life isn’t fair” feelings from creeping in. 

As author and marketing whiz Seth Godin noted in a recent blog  “The problem, of course, is that people don’t always think like you…If they only thought like you, of course, and knew what you know, then there wouldn’t be a problem.”  Isn’t that the truth?! I often find myself feeling overwhelmed by some minor detail or small thing that isn’t going the way “I” thought it should, or someone who doesn’t agree with me, so a little perspective should do wonders for my actions this year. I can’t wait to see what life looks like through someone else’s glasses!

So there you have it – 2010 is all about B.I.P.  Balance. Improvement. Perspective. I’d love to know what your three words are, if you’d care to share in the comments. This is going to be a fun ride – hang on!


Filed under Choices, Focus, Reinvention

Chao Bistro delivers a few new favorites

Have you ever felt like you totally understand your tastes, and nothing a restaurant is going to dish out will change your mind? Well I have, and the recently opened Chao Bistro on Capital Hill (1200 E. Pike) took me by surprise on a number of delicious dishes.

To set the stage, I was participating in the first local gathering of Tastecasting, an event where restaurants host a complimentary menu tasting for a small group (10-15)  of active social media enthusiasts.  In return, the group broadcasts their experiences and opinions to their followers, fans and connections via social media.

Photo: Diana Johnson

So we gathered on a cold, windy, rainy Seattle evening (what a shock!) to take a spin through the menu at Chao and share our opinions.  What I “thought” I knew about my tastes would be challenged – namely, I don’t drink (or like) sake, I like my calamari in little “rings and legs”, spam is to be avoided at all costs, and anything with gravy in the morning is to be avoided.  And you can guess what I found on the generous 17-item tasting menu – all of the above!

We tasted the menu in three sections – breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I was pleasantly surprised by the breakfast items (served Sat-Sun, 8am-3pm) and would definitely return for most of the dinner items, either during regular hours (6-11 pm) or the incredibly well-priced happy hours (3-7pm, 11pm-1am).

As for breakfast, gravy is not something high on my list – nor is anything with spam! Oh but I was wrong.  The Island Fried Rice was a beautifully balanced salty-savory dish, with two over-easy eggs atop a mound of spam-speckled fried rice. Uh oh, spam.  Really?? But it was great, and went well with the portuguese sausage, barbecued pork, onion and carrots, with a nice touch of sesame oil. 

And the gravy? Whoa, it came slathered over the Chicken Fried Steak, a mountainous 11-ounce ground beef steak, atop a bed of hash browns. Yowsa, that could feed a whole tableful of hungover diners, and the rumor is that only one person has ever finished the whole plate by himself.  I believe it, since the plate easily served 5-6 of us, and we lapped up the gravy, speckled with bacon and sausage, like nobody’s business.  So, two myths down – spam is actually good, and gravy works for breakfast.  Who knew?

In the dinner segment, we tried 11 different dishes and it gave my palate a workout!  There were some great Pan-Asian takes on traditional dishes, such as the Miso Cream Fettuccine (with chicken or salmon), the Wasabi Caesar Salad (a unanimous favorite with all 10 of our diners!) and a great Chao Salad with candied walnuts, Asian pear slices and lychee vinaigrette.

But the three dishes that really stood out for me were the Calamari, Lemongrass Crab Cakes and Whole Fried Chicken.  As previously mentioned, I like my calamari in little fried “rings and legs”, as you would find in most restaurants – but I have a new favorite!  This dish delivered perfect little strips of solid calamari, cut from a full steak, breaded in panko, chili powder and orange peel and fried quickly and perfectly. It was served with a lemon ginger aioli that was a perfect accent, and I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to eat “rings and legs” again – this is the new standard in calamari for me!

Note: A special offering from Tastecasting: You can try a free calamari appetizer with dinner and a minimum $15 purchase! It’s good until Nov 30 and you just need to mention you read about them on Tastecasting!


The Lemongrass Crab Cakes were a meaty, crunchy blend of crab, panko, lemongrass, coconut, red peppers and shallots, served with the same lemon ginger aioli (above) and a nice sweet chili mango sauce.  Perfect!

And the whole fried chicken, you might wonder, what’s the big deal with that?  Well, it was beautifully served on a platter with small dishes of pickled daikon, salt & pepper, and sweet chili sauce, and the skin was a perfectly crispy crackly delicious finish.  And it’s not just a Sunday comfort food dinner – the owners related that in Korea when people go out drinking, this style of chicken is what they would order to eat while they are imbibing.  Hmm, so much for bad nachos and wings, like they serve at most bars late-night!  This bird was just $25 and would easily serve 3-4 hungry (and buzzed!) diners well, and it was fabulous.

And what about the fourth food myth – that I don’t like sake?  Well I don’t – and I passed on the first three samples that were served with dinner.  More for everyone else, right? But then came that aroma –  enticing sweet crisp fresh – that arrived before the cup even hit the table.  Wow, I thought – but I don’t drink that.  Bummer.  But the aroma prevailed, I tasted the lovely green apple sake and my mind is forever changed!  I think it could be a very dangerous drink for me, you have been warned…

We tried many more excellent dishes – waffle cut sweet potato fries, wok-seared edamame, 12th Ave french dip, ahi trio, etc. and you really can’t go wrong with any of the choices.  In fact, if I lived closer to Chao, I’d be in serious danger of eating several times a week here, thanks to the great variety in the menu. Many thanks to co-owner Tony, manager Paula and Chef Kevin for a fantastic evening.

And now, back to the drawing board for my “food myths” – I think I need to work on a couple new ones…can’t wait for the next Tastecasting event to find out what they will be!

Chao Bistro & Bar, 1200 E Pike, Seattle, 206-324-1010 www.chaobistro.com


Filed under Events, Restaurants, Reviews

Are you on the list of 136 Twittering restaurants?

It’s time again to update the list of Seattle-area restaurants on Twitter – we’re up to 136 restaurants/chefs now!  Please take a look at the list and let us know if there’s anyone missing or any new restaurants we should add.

The holidays are a great time for restaurants to be tweeting about specials, holiday parties, group events, and other festitivites to draw customers in for another visit.  And we know everyone is trolling around out there on Twitter looking for a great deal or to discover the new hotspot, so this is a great time for companies to establish their presence.  Building the clientele – or strengthening the relationship – during the already-busy holiday season is a great headstart for the post-holiday months when sales drag and clients are few and far between.

Here we go – please add any additions in the comments!

35th Street Bistro 35Bistro
5 Spot ChowFoods
Alabardero Taberna_Seattle
Andaluca (chef) chefwaj
Andaluca Restaurant Andaluca
Anitas Crepes AnitasCrepes
Archery Bistro ArcheryBistro
Art of the Table ChefDAOTT
ART Restaurant ARTRestaurant
Atlas Foods ChowFoods
Barrio Restaurant HeavyRestaurant
Bastille bastilleseattle
Beach House Kirkland BHKirkland
Belltown Pizza Belltownpizza
Benihana (corporate) Benihana__
Bin on the Lake binonthelake
Bistro on Yale BistroOnYale
Black Pearl BlackPearlSEA
Blue C Sushi bluecsushi
Blue Moon Burgers BlueMoonBurgers
Boat Street Café BoatStreet
BOKA Kitchen & Bar BOKAchef
Boom Noodle BoomNoodle
Boxleys boxleys
Brasa Tamara_Murphy
Brasserie Margaux Margaux_Seattle
Brouwers Café brouwerscafe
Buckley’s Pubs buckleyspubs
Café Campagne Cafe_Campagne
Café Campagne (chef) daisgord
Café Flora CafeFloraVeg
Café Revo CaféRevo
Campagne Restaurant EasyFrench
Canlis bcanlis
Carmelita carmelitaveggie
Chandlers Crabhouse SchwartzBros
Circa Ale House circaalehouse
Coastal Kitchen coastalkitchen
Counter Burger counterburger
Crush Crush_Seattle
Cucina Fresca CucinaFresca
Daniels Broiler SchwartzBros
Del Rey DelReySeattle
Delancey Pizza delanceyseattle
Dragonfish DragonfishSEA
El Gaucho Bellevue ElGauchoBell
Elemental/Elemental Next Door Elemental_Food
Elliott Bay Brewing elliottbay_beer
Emmer and Rye emmerandrye
Endolyne Joes ChowFoods
Enotria enotria
Epulo epulo
Feedback Lounge feedbacklounge
Fox Sports Grill (Seattle) FSGSeattle
Fresh Bistro freshbistro
Frontier Café FrontierCafe
Frontier Room frontierroom
Gordon Biersch (corporate) Gordon_Biersch
Grand Cru Wine Bar grandcruwine
Herbfarm Herbguy
Here and There Grill heretheregrill
Hi-Life ChowFoods
Homegrown homegrownian
Huiyona huiyona
Hunt Club TheHuntClub
Icon Grill iconGrill
Il Bistro ILBistroSeattle
Il Fornaio ilfornaio_sea
Ivars IvarsClam
Jimmy’s On First JimmysOnFirst
Joule joulerestaurant
Julias Café JuliasSeattle
La Bocca LaBocca
Lark larkseattle
Licorous licorousseattle
Lombardis lombardisdining
Lowells Restaurant LowellsSeattle
Maggianos (corporate) Maggianos
Malt & Vine MaltandVine
Marination Mobile curb_cuisine
Maximilien maxi_sea
Maximus/Minimus somepigseattle
Meza mezaseattle
Mioposto mioposto
Mobatta mobatta
Monsoon East MonsoonEast
Night Kitchen night_kitchen
O/8 Twisted Cork TwistedCork
Olivar Restaurant OlivarSeattle
Olivers Lounge OliversLounge
Pagliacci Pizza pagliaccipizza
Pearl Bar and Dining PearlBellevue
Pike Brewing Company pikebrewing
Pike Place Chowder PikePLChowder
Ponti PontiGrill
Poppy poppyseattle
Portage Bay Café portagebaycafe
Purple Café HeavyRestaurant
Queen City Grill queencitygrill
Rays Boathouse raysboathouse
Redhook Brewery Redhook_Brewery
Rovers thechefinthehat
Ruth Chris Steak House – Seattle RCSHSeattle
Salty’s SaltysSeafood
Seastar SeastarRawBar
Seastar (chef) ChefJohnHowie
Serafina Osteria SerafinaOsteria
Shallots Bistro ShallotsBistro
Six Seven Six_Seven
Skillet Street Food skilletstfood
Sorrentinos MammaEnza
Space Needle space_needle
Spazzo Italian Grill SchwartzBros
Spinasse spinasse
Spring Hill Restaurant springhill_us
Stir Martini Bar STIRBellevue
Taphouse Grill taphousegrill
TASTE Restaurant tastesam
The Hunt Club TheHuntClub
The Loft theloftlounge
The Spot Off Main TheSpotOffMain
Tidbit Bistro Tidbit
Tiki Bob’s Cantina TikiBobsSeattle
Tilth (chef) mariahines
Tom Douglas Bakery TDRBakery
Tom Douglas Restaurants TDRcreampuff
Top Pizza top_pizza
Typhoon Restaurants TyRestaurants
Uber Tavern UberTavern
Urbane Seattle urbaneseattle
Ventana VentanaSEA
Watercress Asian Bistro Watercresslily
Woodman Lodge WoodmanLodge
Zaw Pizza zawpizza
Zayda Buddy’s ZaydaBuddy
Zeeks Pizza zeekspizza


Filed under Restaurants, Twitter

26 ways to Dine Around Seattle!

It’s one of the most wonderful times of the year for a “foodie” in Seattle – it’s Dine Around Seattle month !  For the better part of November (every Sunday-Thursday, with some exceptions), you can score fantastic deals at 26 of Seattle’s finest restaurants – so get your appetite on!

Now in it’s 7th year, Dine Around Seattle provides a great opportunity to sample our city’s great cuisine at fantastic prices – as in a three-course meal for only $30!  Many of the restaurants also offer a three-course lunch deal for only $15.

The full lineup can be viewed below and full contact info is at this link: http://www.dinearoundseattle.org/restaurants.php.  By clicking on each restaurant logo, you can view the scrumptuous menu choices before you go….warning, drooling may ensue!

And as the Twitter-happy strategist that I am, I have conveniently listed all the restaurants with their Twitter addresses below – so you can “eat and Tweet” and let us know all the juicy details of your culinary outings!

And p.s.  I’m still working to get ALL these restaurants on Twitter, so if you can make an introduction to any of them for me, I’d be happy to chat with them about how I can help create a splash on Twitter!

35th Street Bistro 35Bistro
Andaluca Andaluca
ART Restaurant ARTRestaurant
Barking Frog  
Campagne EasyFrench
Chez Shea  
Dahlia Lounge TDRcreampuff
Earth & Ocean  
Etta’s TDRcreampuff
Flying Fish  
Hunt Club TheHuntClub
Lola TDRcreampuff
Monsoon East MonsoonEast
O/8 Twisted Cork TwistedCork
Ponti PontiGrill
Rays Boathouse raysboathouse
Restaurant Zoe  
Serafina Osteria SerafinaOsteria
Spring Hill Restaurant springhill_us
Steelhead Diner  

So, which one is your favorite?  Which menu looks the most enticing to you?  The dish I’m most excited about = pumpkin risotto at Andaluca! Please come back and share your comments – bon appetit!

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Filed under Events, Restaurants, Twitter

39 great reasons to dine out in October

savor seattle aug09 028October is one of my favorite months of the year – football, pumpkins, falling leaves, Halloween – and now Urban Eats!  Of course I – The Incredible Chef – would have a favorite dining activity to recommend, so listen up!

Urban Eats is a special dining out program that features 39 Puget Sound region restaurants providing fabulous 3-course dinners for just $30!  As they say, it’s a good deal for a great meal, and I’m already trying to figure out how many of them I can visit during the Oct 1-29 promotion (Sunday-Thursday nights).

As a huge proponent of Twitter who actively seeks to help restaurants use Twitter to be the “talk of the town“, I’m listing the Urban Eats restaurants here along with their Twitter accounts.  I hope you’ll “tweet” often about your great experiences with each establishment, and let us know how you eat well and spend less!

But I do have to ask – why are only 16 of these 39 restaurants on Twitter?? So if you dine with a non-Twitter restaurant on this list, please do me a favor and ask them why they aren’t using Twitter to make more money and talk with their customers!  And then kindly point them in my direction – and let’s keep the regional Twitter foodie scene live and vibrant…bon appetit!

p.s. You can find Urban Eats on Twitter @urban_eats_Sea

94 Stewart  
Anchovies & Olives  
Anthony’s Home Port Shilshole  
BOKA Kitchen & Bar BOKAchef
Brasa Tamara_Murphy
Carmelita carmelitaveggie
Crush Crush_Seattle
Huiyona huiyona
Il Bistro ILBistroSeattle
Impromptu Wine Bar Café  
La Rustica  
Maximilien maxi_sea
Palace Kitchen TDRcreampuff
Salty’s at Redondo Beach SaltysSeafood
Salty’s on Alki SaltysSeafood
Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar SeastarRawBar
Six Seven Six_Seven
Stumbling Goat Bistro  
Taberna del Alabardero  
Ten Mercer  
The Georgian  
Tidbit Bistro Tidbit
Tilikum Place Café  
Urbane Seattle urbaneseattle
Anthony’s HomePort Kirkland  
Bin on the Lake binonthelake
Cellar 46  
Flo Restaurant and Sake Bar  
Pearl Bar and Dining PearlBellevue
Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar SeastarRawBar
Terra Vista @ Snoqualmie Casino
The Calcutta Grill  
The Third Floor Fish Café  


RELATED: “You Are What You Tweet – Using Twitter as a recipe for your online success!  Oct. 19 event for non-Twittering restaurants and food companies


Filed under Events, Restaurants, Twitter

Perfect event for “non-Twittering” restaurants, chefs, food-companies!

Using Twitter as your recipe for online success

Monday, October 19, 2009
Mayflower Park Hotel, Seattle
6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
$50 for early-bird registrations (by Oct. 9); $65 after Oct. 9/at the door (if space available)

As a restaurant, chef or food company, do you dream of:

  • Being “the” neighborhood destination for socializing, eating and drinking
  • Connecting with customers and your community
  • Making more money
  • Multiplying repeat business
  • Making frequent customers feel special
  • Attracting a steady stream of new customers
  • Getting name recognition for making delicious food

If so, we have an event for you! Using the micro-blogging tool “Twitter”, you can accomplish all these things and more! This is a customized event for restaurants, chefs, wineries, breweries, and food-related companies that are not using Twitter – but that are pretty sure they should be! If you are scared, curious, skeptical or not sure about what Twitter can do for your business or how to get started then this is the event for you!

You’ll hear success stories and sage advice from featured panelists:

We’ll show you how using Twitter effectively can deliver:

  • “Talk of the Town” status
  • Access to your customers through engaging conversations and feedback
  • Full restaurants/stores with adoring fans
  • Loyal customers as you provide inside info and/or special offers
  • “Raving Fans” by acknowledging and interacting with your customers
  • New customers attracted by recommendations and special promotions
  • Positive feedback about your food in a highly visible and viral platform

And the end result of this event? You’ll be inspired and motivated to take the plunge and join us on Twitter, thus creating a more robust community for all of us in the Puget Sound food scene. Information will be provided on programs available to help you start Tweeting! We look forward to seeing you there!

TO REGISTER: http://youarewhatyoutweet.eventbrite.com/

Hosted by the Mayflower Park Hotel and Andaluca Restaurant

Food and beverages provided by: Andaluca Restaurant, Woodhouse Family Winery, Buchanan Chocolate



Filed under Beverage Companies, Events, Food Companies, Restaurants, Twitter