Born and raised in Washington, Chef Blaine Wetzel’s career began in the kitchen at the young age of 14. After working at the acclaimed NOMA restaurant in Copenhagen, Chef Wetzel knew that he wanted to return to the Puget Sound area where he grew up. The Willows Inn caught his eye due to its small size, on-site farms, and fishing boats. At the young age of 25, Chef Wetzel has transformed this small inn into a world-renowned dining destination. It’s well-known for its commitment to local and fresh ingredients. Approximately 80 percent of the food served at The Willows Inn comes locally from tiny Lummi Island.
Located on nine-mile Lummi Island, The Willows Inn has become a go-to destination for vacationers and foodies alike. At a price tag of almost $1000 for two, you can expect only the best from the acclaimed Willows Inn and Chef Wetzel. The 20-course tasting menu changes regularly as Chef Wetzel is insistent that only ingredients in season, fresh and local to Lummi Island should be foraged and used. This makes for a unique experience no matter how many times you dined there. You can expect to begin your meal with lighter snacking options such as flavorful in-season berries, palate-cleansing oysters and lemon, and nasturtium and spot prawns. Each dish is intricately plated and presented in a way to ensure that every flavor and color is complementary.
As you continue throughout the tasting menu, you will be treated to options such as fresh lamb skewers; flavorful and grilled to perfection, garnished with a dusting of fresh oregano to bring out even more flavor. The halibut is caught, and the herbs are foraged locally creating a clean-tasting dish bursting with flavor. The mains are also served with fresh bread with heirloom wheat and baked in the Inn’s own outside ovens. The tasting menu ends with multiple dessert bites. They range from fresh strawberries to more savory dishes such as fresh caramel and parsnip ice cream.
Unlike many restaurants that changed their delivery methods in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, The Willows Inn did not pivot to offer take-out or separate menu options. When able to open, the Inn offered only socially distanced outdoor seating with temperature checks in place. The Inn traditionally closes in the winter months each year and is not set to open for the season until April of 2021.
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James Beard Award
AAA 4 Diamond
Phone: (360) 758-2620
Chef Tony is a 42-year veteran of the food industry and is often known by his peers as “The New Product Guru.” Throughout his illustrious culinary career, he’s earned several notable titles and positions including Acquisition International’s “Most Influential Product Development Expert, U.S.” in 2019.
In 1997, Tony also founded Culinary Systems Inc., a group of culinary consultants that assist with culinary training, restaurant start-ups, concept development, and more. Since then, Tony and his team have generated over two billion dollars in sales for their clients in restaurants, retail, and manufacturing.
The strategic, technical, and culinary skills of Tony and his team can be seen on the menus of national chains, in the portfolio of national food manufacturers, and on the grocery shelves of products produced by major retail companies.