One’s a former railroad-car repairman from Delaware, the other the scion of local ballet luminaries. Neither went to culinary school. Both are noted philanthropists, are in business with their wives, have one child, and run retail food sidelines. They’re even sort of starting to look alike. A side-by-side comparison of mogul chefs Tom Douglas and Ethan Stowell.

Number of Restaurants

11: Dahlia Lounge, Dahlia Bakery, Etta’s, Lola, Palace Kitchen, Serious Pie Virginia, Serious Pie and Biscuit Westlake, Seatown, Rub with Love Shack, Brave Horse Tavern, Cuoco 6: Tavolàta, How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies and Olives, Staple and Fancy, Ballard Pizza Company, Rione XIII
Number of Cookbooks Four One
Age When First Restaurant Opened 31 when he opened the original Dahlia Lounge. Now: 54

29 when he opened Union. Now: 38

 
 Number of Employees 800 Around 130
Token Lowbrow Nod Joined the food truck revolution when his Tibetan dumpling house Ting Momo morphed from Amazon campus lunch stop into a sidewalk operation out of a truck named Ruby Contracted with the Mariners to raise the quality of ballpark concessionsat the Safe, including Hamburg and Frites, a burger bar featuring 100 percent grass-fed beef
How’s the Pizza? Arguably the best thing he does. Golden crusts at both Serious Pies are pillowy and blistered, bursting with flavor, and exuberant with toppings like pancetta, chilies, and Penn Cove clams. Arguably the worst thing he does. Ballard Pizza Company’s name isn’t its only claim to blandness; crusts in the Ballard Ave haunt lack flavor and toppings lack the harmony of his best productions.
Chef Bromance

Known to knock back an adult beverage or four with cohost and pal (and owner-chef of Rover’s and Luc) Thierry Rautureau on their KIRO radio show, Seattle Kitchen

Known to frequent Ballard dive the Viking to play shuffleboard with buddy (and Canlis chef) Jason Franey
Fail Ting Momo, the Tibetan dumpling spot he opened for longtime employee Deyki Thonden, overwhelmed its proprietress and thus became in July the first Tom Douglas restaurant to shutter.

Union, the downtown destination restaurant Stowell opened in 2003, closed in 2010 as the economic plunge, which he says removed 15,000 jobs within blocks of Union, killed demand for the huge restaurant. 

Favorite of His Own Dishes

The rotisserie-roasted five-spice duck at Dahlia Lounge

The spaghetti with anchovy, chili, and garlic that’s typically on the card at How to Cook a Wolf
Where’s He Cooking? None of his restaurants—though he does cook for catered events off-site and at his party room, Palace Ballroom

Staple and Fancy weekends—though recent months have seen him crossing town to get Rione XIII up and running 

Big Damn Deal Took the 2012 James Beard Foundation’s national award for Outstanding Restaurateur In 2008, was named one of 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food and Wine magazine
Estimation of the Other “I love Ethan’s entrepreneurial spirit and his hospitality. Plus, after years of getting beat up for opening multiple restaurants, I like to see someone else doing it—and doing it well.”

“I’ve got nothing but huge respect for Tom: He’s grown his business ethically, he’s good to his employees, and he treats them with respect and care. If this is a Tom vs. Ethan thing—I vote Tom.” 

Next Up A falafel house to open first quarter 2013 next to the Paramount Theatre; a bakery, grocery, coffeehouse, and restaurant in the Via6 apartment complex at Sixth and Lenora this spring.

A new restaurant and bar next to Anchovies and Olives, along with a couple of hush-hush projects