It took us longer to drive to Lummi Islands’ Willow Inn for dinner on July 9 than it would have for us to fly to eat at Daniel Patterson’s Coi in San Francisco, but we had given our dinner over to the Gelinaz Shuffle. I will admit that felt slightly cheated as chefs from around the world switched countries; not to say the food wasn’t amazing, which it was from start to finish–all 17 courses.
Keeping an eye on Twitter all week, I saw Daniel Patterson post photos of some veggies that looked an awful lot like the same veggies that the Seattle Times writer mentioned in a tweet, so I kind of expected the San Francisco chef well before we arrived at cocktail hour at Willow’s Inn.
It seemed that the majority of diners were press, bloggers, or invited guests. I guess we were lucky in scoring a table at all!
I don’t normally take photos of my food. And as you’ll see, even when I do, the photos pretty much suck, because I do them as quickly as possible and then eat! The woman who sat next to us spent several minutes getting the perfect shot for each course, even having her dining companion provide lighting as the sun set. Instead, I savored each bite and chatted with Artboy.
Three dishes still stick out in my mind as I think back to that night, almost a month ago now: Baked Potato with Chevre, Chicken-Fried Egg, and the Gems. The gems were said to be representative of the colorful plastic gems the chef’s daughter plays with.
We chatted with the staff as they brought the dishes, asking questions about working with the guest chef and if they found the shuffle fun. Of course, no one was going to complain to a customer, but we heard about Chef Patterson’s innovative use of the some of the same ingredients Chef Wetzel uses and how he ran the kitchen differently. They all seems to be having a great time, and we met a lovely server who ended up having gone to the same art school in Boston as Artboy. We also drank three liters of water each (gotta hydrate through that wine pairing).
Chef Daniel Patterson never left the kitchen. He never came out and took a bow or said a word to diners. He may have been the star of the night, but he took his role as chef more seriously than his role as the star. We thought about waiting around to get a snapshot with him and thank him for the great experience, but he was otherwise engaged chatting with a gentleman from the press. We decided to head back to our rented house as we had an early morning ferry to catch.
Overall, I do wish we had gotten a guest chef who was a little more out of his element, but I was not disappointed in the food or experience at all. Would I do it again? Definitely! Do I wish I’d purchased tickets to Momofuku Ko where Chef Massimo Bottura took over with a little help from Wylie Dufresne? Definitely.