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 In 1994 Eric Tanaka met Chef Tom Douglas and was convinced he’d found his culinary soul mate. Chef Tanaka, the 2004 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Northwest/Hawaii, earned a dual degree in economics and urban planning in college, however soon decided to change gears and try his hand at cooking.

Chef Tanaka started his career at Michael’s in Santa Monica, CA and soon became sous-chef for Michael’s in NYC. Over the following few years, Tanaka cooked in a small mountain town in Italy, and in Alfred Portale’s kitchen at Gotham Bar and Grill in NYC. Douglas, himself a winner of the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Pacific Northwest in 1994, soon lured Chef Tanaka to work for him at Dahlia Lounge, where Douglas had developed his trademark American cuisine, fusing European and Pacific Rim influences with the particular sensibility and ingredients of the Pacific Northwest.

Tanaka, executive chef for much of Douglas’s burgeoning Seattle-area restaurant empire, makes use of the distinctive climate of the Pacific Northwest, including holding “seed meetings” with local organic farmers to ensure that the best combination of heirloom tomatoes, lettuces, beans, and peppers are planted each year.

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