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Michael Gifford Takes Over at How to Cook a Wolf

Ethan Stowell brought back his former Union sous to open Ballard Pizza Company. Now you'll find him up the hill.

By Allecia Vermillion December 11, 2012

A Union alum now runs the menu in Stowell's sleek Queen Anne dining room.

 Ethan Stowell says he's confident the rotating chef issue at How to Cook a Wolf has come to an end. After a few short-lived predecessors, Michael Gifford has been running the show at the Queen Anne restaurant since August. Gifford goes way back with Stowell; he opened Union as a sous chef, then went on to work in Portland and back on the East Coast (he’s a south Jersey native). 

Over the years, Stowell kept in touch, and finally lured Gifford back to open Ballard Pizza Company in April. After an eight-year hiatus, Gifford found the Stowell realm had morphed into a proper (and diversified) company.  And when Jake Martin left How to Cook a Wolf to return to Portland, Stowell asked Gifford if he was ready for a move up the hill to Queen Anne.

While Ballard Pizza Company serves more families, How to Cook a Wolf has plenty of regulars who live nearby, and Gifford has been busy learning the rhythms and tastes of the neighborhood. One dish he's particularly proud of--a recent yeasted polenta fritter. "Think of it as a doughnut," he says. Adding dissolved yeast to the batter means a puffy, crisper fry.

“Ethan has a great formula,” Gifford says. “We’re not doing bizarre food.” 

So far Gifford’s boss hasn’t exactly been breathing down his neck. Stowell came in for the restaurant’s five-year anniversary last week, says Gifford. “Other than that, he came in here once, and I take that as a compliment.”

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