Joe Ritchie, a Pacific Northwest personality all the way down to his grey shirt. Image courtesy of Geoffrey Smith.

 Joe Ritchie is very Pacific Northwest. He is a lifelong snowboarder, a chef, and his sister runs an organic farm. Though technically it's a family affair: Joe's sister Anna  does the farming, his brother helps with finance, and Joe does the butchering. 

Ritchie grew up in the Snoqualmie, North Bend area. After a stint in the military, where “the food was exactly what you would expect,” Ritchie enrolled at culinary school in Scottsdale.

He moved back to Seattle after getting a job with Jerry Traunfeld at the Herbfarm. After putting in four years, the mountains called and Ritchie moved to Vail to be, in his words, a ski bum—and the executive chef at the ski area resort.

Ritchie doesn’t have much time for snowboarding these days. He returned to Seattle to work as chef de cuisine at Poppy and recently signed on as chef for Ethan Stowell’s brand new Tangletown outpost, Mkt.

Here, a few of Joe Ritchie’s favorite things:

Banned from your kitchen: Truffle oil, corn syrup, dried herbs.

Secret ingredient: I went on a trip to Vietnam this spring and witnessed fish sauce being produced the old fashioned way. Quality fish sauce has such an amazing complexity and clean flavor. I now have a new appreciation for it.

Recently splurged on: I didn’t personally buy it but recently I was given the perfect birthday gift: a four-horsepower meat grinder. It’s sitting in my closet waiting for the November lamb slaughter at my sister’s farm. 

Pairing food with barrel-aged cocktails is: Unpredictable! It’s amazing how much the character of the cocktail changes as it sits in the barrels.

Place to drink on a day off: I live a short walk from Oliver’s Twist on Phinney Ridge. We go there frequently for a snack and a cocktail. I have to say that since Mkt. has opened I’ve spent some quality time at the Burgundian. They’ve got a great selection of draft beer and serve fried chicken and waffles all day.

Biggest challenge of working in a tiny kitchen: There are two huge challenges: keeping the clutter under control and keeping one’s cool when coworkers (waitstaff in particular) are constantly bumping into you while you’re cooking. This would have been a tough kitchen for me to run as a headstrong 25 year-old.

Can’t live without: A regular heartbeat. Or, from a culinary standpoint: my mom’s Gravenstein apple pie.

Guilty pleasure: It’s recently become Mighty-O Donuts. We are right next door to them and the donuts are fantastic.

Three things on your countertop right now: Stovetop espresso maker, Vita-Prep and a half-eaten bag of Tim’s Cascade potato chips. 

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