The One Seafood Chef Tom Douglas Can’t Get on Board With

If you want a taste of the best cuisine Seattle has to offer, then surely you need to visit one of chef Tom Douglas‘ restaurants. Douglas has been cooking up Pacific Northwest cuisine since 1984 and opened his first restaurant, Dahlia Lounge, in 1989. Now, Douglas has 13 restaurants, is a James Beard award winner and is a legendary culinary master in Seattle.

We were lucky enough to chat with Douglas recently, and he even let us take a peek inside his fridge.

SheKnows: Tell us a little bit about what’s in your fridge. 

Tom Douglas: My fridge is jam-packed with condiments. It’s covered in wine — I have a beautiful little temperature-controlled wine cooler right next to my regular refrigerator, so I have my whites on one tap and my reds on another. The rest of my fridge is filled with all sorts of condiments and smoked salmon and all the good things in life!

Tom Douglas' fridge
Image: Courtesy of Tom Douglas.

SK: What about your freezer?

TD: I have the “cheats” in my freezer — the shortcuts. I keep some good pastry dough in there or some puff pastry. I’m an ice guy; I keep a lot of ice for my scotch and for my rosé. I drink a little bit of everything when I cook. Julie Child had a famous quote — “I enjoy cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.”

SK: Are there any items you always make sure to keep in stock? 

TD: There’s a couple little Chinese condiments that I always have, like crispy chili or hoisin sauce. I try to buy my vegetables day-to-day, but I always try to keep things like potatoes. And you know, really nice, well-marbled steaks freeze really well, so I like to always keep some nice steaks in my freezer.

SK: What’s your go-to healthy snack? 

TD: Are you saying steak’s not healthy? [Laughs.] There’s so many, but hummus is probably the one I go to the most. I love baba ganoush, which is a roasted eggplant dip. Feta cheese is fairly healthy, so I mix that with fresh cucumbers and mint and tomatoes — a quick Greek salad!

SK: Can you give us an example of one of your favorite weeknight meals? 

TD: Well, I like to do a Greek salad like that with a Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle. That, along with a roasted chicken is a nice combo. You know, there’s two kinds of oregano out there — well, there’s probably more — but look for Greek oregano for your salad or chicken! It’s got a much nicer flavor than a lot of the other oreganos out there, especially the dried oreganos. 

SK: What would you consider the ultimate comfort food?

TD: You know, for me, I think of things like rack of lamb; I love charcoal-grilled duck. There’s many that go well with a nice red Chateau Ste. Michelle wine, and I like to sip my wine while I’m out there doing my cooking on my patio, and it’s just a lovely, comforting night. 

SK: Any foods you absolutely can’t stand? 

TD: My goodness! There certainly are. I’m not a beet guy. Never been into beets. I ate ’em for my mom when she would make ’em because, of course, she made me, and I wouldn’t get dessert without it, but outside of that, beets are not my go-to. 

SK: What’s the strangest food you have ever eaten?

TD: I think uni, the little sea urchin roe. It’s mushy and fishy — I like it in its umami character, but I think it’s an odd flavor and it doesn’t pair with wine very well. I drink wine all throughout my evening so if I come across something that doesn’t go well with wine, I don’t eat it very often. 

SK: If you could cook a meal for any celebrity (living or dead), who would you choose to cook for and why? 

TD: I just saw Bruce Springsteen on Broadway, and how fun would it be to sit down and have a big glass of red wine with Bruce Springsteen? He’s so well-known for all these road songs, all of these car trips and “Thunder Road”! He said onstage last week that he didn’t even have a driver’s license when he wrote those songs, so I wanna know more about Bruce Springsteen.

SK: What would you cook for him?

TD: I would do my charcoal grilled chicken or a piece of fish. We have beautiful king salmon here in Seattle, so yeah, I think either a nice grilled chicken or roasted fish with fennel butter.

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