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Source of Good

3/3/2006-SEATTLE CONSCIOUS CHOICE

By Bob Condor

Good food starts with good farmers and fishermen and ranchers and growers and, sure, vintners. Chefs know that no matter what their culinary flair, the ingredients make the dish.

Becky Selengut realized all of this. That’s why she recently launched www.seasonalcornucopia.com, a new website dedicated to providing up-to-date and deep information about what produce and other fresh foods are available during what months of the year. You will be delighted by categories beyond fruits and vegetables, such as foraged edibles, herbs, nuts, salad greens and a formidable section on sustainable seafood from the relatively local waters along California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

You will learn as much as you will get hungry.

“I did it for chefs to help plan seasonal local menus,” explains Selengut, 35, who worked at the famed The Herbfarm restaurant in Woodinville but now operates a cooking instruction and private chef business. “But I decided to try to make it useful for everybody.”

Cooks have been frequent visitors to the site in its nascent weeks.

“What I am hearing from home cooks is they have been eager to learn more about seasonal food and how to put a meal or dinner party together using local ingredients,” says Selengut, who is a popular instructor for the PCC Natural Markets cooking class program.

Gardeners are accessing the site too, as a guide for what vegetables, berries and herbs to plant when.

Selengut was inspired to create the site after, literally, a week on the farm. She was part of a program at Quillisascut Farm School of Domestic Arts that puts chefs to work milking goats and more.

One night, the chefs were talking after dinner about how great it would be to have one clearinghouse site for seasonal menus and ingredients. Having stepped away from the full-sprint life of a chef, Selengut realized she was best qualified to upload the site. She enlisted the advice and input of several local chefs, food producers, farmers, fishermen and agricultural scholars and got to work. She is happy to “feed” the information to her adopted hometown area.

"I grew up in New Jersey, but somehow always knew I was a West Coast girl,” said Selengut. “We have so many available and wonderful local foods in the Pacific Northwest. It shouldn’t be so hard to plan them into seasonal menus and meals."

Other local food leaders are following suit. They recently staged a first annual Seattle Farmer-Chef Connection. Regular contributor Ritzy Ryciak covered the event for CC and discovered a sort of culinary love in the air, complete with a “speed-dating” format. Her report leads off our Good Food Issue 2006 and includes a highlight sidebar on chef Maria Hines of Earth & Ocean. Andrew Mulholland checks in with recipes and a preview of March’s Vegfest at Seattle Center.

More Good Food: Our dining critic and food mentor, Nora West visits Lola, the Tom Douglas favorite that is brimming with fresh, local and decidedly delectable meals and appetizers and, sure, Washington wines made specifically for the restaurant. A final essay comes from Jolia Sidona Einstein, who was born a vegan and hasn’t regretted one meatless day. Her story puts yet another definition on what “good food” can mean to us.

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