My mom took the train up from Delaware to be with me at the James Beard Foundation media awards in New York City tonight. The theme for this year’s Oscars of the culinary world was “Women In Food,” and, for most of us, our mothers are the ones who shape so much of how we think about cooking and eating.

So, I’m making that the theme of a ticket giveaway to a James Beard dinner coming to Seattle on May 14. It’s a “Celebrity Chef Tour” meant to recreate a bit of the experience of dining at the James Beard House, “featuring the greatest culinary artists in major markets across the United States.”  Ethan Stowell will cook at the $175-a-plate fundraiser at at the Columbia Tower Club along with the club’s James Hassell, with organizers promising ”an innovative, one-of-a-kind dinner” and wine pairings.

Want to win? Just leave a comment on this post telling us how your own mother influenced the way you eat and cook. I’ll pick two names, using a random number generator, at midnight Seattle time on Friday, May 8, and give each qualifying winner (that is, someone who answered the question, however briefly) a pair of tickets, courtesy of the event organizers. One comment per person, please — but you can always ask the person who would accompany you to leave a comment of his or her own.

Stowell’s many honors include being a repeat finalist in the Beard’s Best Chefs Northwest category — other Northwest chef finalists, with winners to be determined Monday night at Lincoln Center, are Maria Hines, Joseba Jimenez de Jimenez, Cathy Whims (of Portland) and Jason Wilson, with Tom Douglas up for outstanding restaurateur.

Stowell’s plans for the May 14 dinner include serving up geoduck, hamachi crudo (the man knows his way around crudo), ocean trout, and a creme fraiche panna cotta with rhubarb. He’ll trade off courses with Hassell, who will cook up a storm as well. It’s the second time Stowell’s been a celebrity chef for the event, and remembers the first one as exciting and as “a lot of fun” — and he means that. “I like going out and meeting people,” he said, and he likes supporting a good cause.

Tonight, I was honored at the Beards just to be noted in the same category as David Leite and Kathleen Purvis, let alone to win the award. I think I managed to squeak that out from the stage, and to thank all my colleagues from the dearly departed Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper, where the story ran, because it was a team effort, and we were a good team. (Meryl Schenker and John Levesque, are you listening?) And I’m so thankful that, despite all the other deserving people I forgot in that lovely overwhelming moment, I did manage to thank my mother. What she taught me, intentionally or not, was to make good food a natural priority in life, a way to join family and friends together. 

Thank you, all of you, for joining me here in that ongoing mission. And tell me: How did your mother influence the way you think about food?


*updated 5/9 to announce our winners: The random number generator at has selected Nancy White (comment left at 1:30 p.m. May 8) and Donna (comment left at 10:06 May 5) as the two winners. Each one will receive a pair of tickets to the event, courtesy of the organizers. Thank you, all of you, for the wonderful posts! This was a great response, and we’ll do more contests in the future.

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