Meet Seattle's 7 Rising-Star Food Artisans

By Leslie Kelly  |  April 7, 2014

From pickles and bitters to sea salt, honey and hot sauce, products made by local artisans are filling the shelves of local specialty shops - like DeLaurenti - and kitchens - at spots like Delancey and The Whale Wins - more and more.  No matter where you taste them, one thing is certain: these up-and-coming food producers are shaping the future of the way Seattle eats and drinks. 

  • Pollard Coffee

    Why We Love Them: This micro-roaster on Vashon Island is a one-woman operation. Robin Pollard, also a partner in the renowned Andrew Will Winery, focuses on single-origin beans from Indonesia, East Africa and Central America, roasted in small batches in a Diedrich from Ponderay, Idaho. She brings her considerable wine background to the blending process, which she compares to crafting a knockout Bordeaux.
    Signature Item: Each blend from the different parts of the world goes by its own name. The East African coffees are labeled Kitenge, while the Indonesian beans are labeled Batik. Depending on the blend you sip, the brews can be bright and fruity or dark and earthy, but they all share a distinctive complexity.
    Where to Buy: Currently only available online, these beans are sure to catch on with coffee-loving chefs in Seattle, especially when they learn Wine Enthusiast recently named Pollard Coffee one of the seven best roasters in the country.

  • Credit: Geoffrey Smith

    Ballard Bee Company

    Why We Love Them: Owner Corky Luster is passionate - maybe even obsessed - about pollinating the city with hives and encouraging a more verdant urban landscape. Each season, the flavor profile of the honey changes, depending on what's in bloom around town. It just takes one spoonful to realize just how special honey can be. 
    Signature Item: All of the honeys come in a handsome square bottle. Our favorite? The Wildflower. 
    Where to Buy: Buy it at DeLaurenti at Pike Place Market, among other area specialty-food stores. It's also available online
    Where to Try: It's wonderful drizzled over sharp cheese at The Whale Wins. It's also the finishing touch for these fried Beecher's Cheese Curds at Safeco Field's Swinging Wings in The 'Pen.

  • Admiralty Salt

    Why We Love Them: Chef Ricardo Valdes turned in his apron and clogs for buckets and rakes, gathering water from the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the west side of Whidbey Island and turning it into the lightest, fluffiest salt flakes we've tasted in a long time. Valdes uses the same process employed by the makers of Maldon, yielding a finished product that is loaded with minerals.
    Signature Item: The standard flake salt. Look out for flavored extensions, like truffle salt, soon. 
    Where to Buy: The Pantry at Delancey.
    Where to Try: It's a finishing touch on salads and some pies at Delancey, and it gives added character and texture to the terrific pretzels at Altstadt

  • Kari's Island Elixirs

    Why We Love Them: These super-small-batch bitters are made from botanicals such as dandelion, Oregon grape, angelica, hyssop, hawthorne, gentian, yarrow and rhubarb - all grown in and around owner Kari Koski's garden on San Juan Island and sweetened with honey from island bees. These beautiful bitters are made with whole botanicals, not extracts, which really shine in sparkling water and cocktails.
    Signature Item: The Aromatic Orange flavor is billed as traditional with a modern sensibility, while the Cardamom-Saffron and the Pink Grapefruit are refreshingly bold and new.
    Where to Buy: DeLaurenti was an early supporter of this year-old company.
    Where to Try: Kari's bitters are featured in cocktails at Coho Restaurant in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

  • broVo Spirits

    Why We Love Them: It all started with an experiment making a rhubarb liqueur that went south. Owner Mhairi Voelsgen turned that "mistake" into a lineup of incredibly delicious liqueurs and amaros. Beginning with its fun Amari Project in 2013, bartenders in Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco have contributed to the brand's custom blends.
    Signature Item: The Douglas Fir, Lavender, Lemon Balm and other liqueurs are featured in tons of Seattle's best-known cocktail bars, including Old Sage and Liberty, while the Amaro No. 1 created by John Ueding, Craft Spirits Manager at Click Wholesale, won a gold medal in an international spirits competition.
    Where to Buy: Markets that carry premium spirits and online
    Where to Try: Slip in for a classy cocktail at Canlis.

  • Britt's Pickles

    Why We Love Them: Naturally fermented in oak barrels, these pickles are made using old-school techniques, but bold spices give them a fresh, modern flavor. High five to owner Britt Eustis for his relentless pursuit of the perfect pickle, a process that includes using spring water and special salt crystals.
    Signature Item: The full-sour and half-sour pickles are our favorites. They're big, juicy and teeming with probiotics. We also love the black garlic kimchi and the outstanding sauerkraut.
    Where to Buy: Britt's has a counter in the Corner Market Building at Pike Place Market, and the products are also sold at PCC Natural Markets and Central Co-Op. Order wholesale online.
    Where to Try: All the products are available to sample at the Pike Place Market store. We're surprised that we have yet to spot them served alongside sandwiches at Seattle-area restaurants. 

  • Bonache Sauce Company

    Why We Love Them: A few shakes of Bonache's Hatch green-chile or habanero pepper sauce perks up everything from meat to Bloody Marys. Bonache founder Marc Olsen is even in the process of collaborating on a pepper-infused beer with Elysian Brewing. Olsen was a bartender at Hattie's Hat when he started experimenting with these vibrant pepper sauces, and their kitchen crew helped shape the brilliant results. 
    Signature Item: If you like it hot, go for the habanero. The Hatch is more mellow.
    Where to Buy: Available at Home Remedy and other specialty stores.
    Where to Try: The Brave Horse Tavern was the first to showcase the Hatch green-chile sauce on its fantastic hot wings, but this one-man operation is blowing up huge this season at Safeco, where it's featured on the classic wings at Swinging Wings.