A year after he was named one of the top young chefs in America by the James Beard Foundation, the celebrated head chef of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island is once again a finalist for the 2015 James Beard awards.
This time, Blaine Wetzel is one of five vying for best chef in the Northwest, which covers Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.
Other Northwest finalists and their restaurants are:
• Renee Erickson,The Whale Wins
• Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi,Joule
• Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton,Ox
in Portland, Ore.
• Justin Woodward,Castagna
, in Portland, Ore.
The finalists were announced Tuesday, March 24. The winners will be revealed May 4.
In 2014, Wetzel shared the prestigious Rising Star Chef of the Year honor with Jimmy Bannos Jr. of The Purple Pig in Chicago. It was the first such tie.