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How a Seattle Chef Lost His James Beard Award-winning Restaurant, But After an Unreal Epidemic Year

A year ago, chef Maria Hines ran the James Ames Beard Award-winning Seattle restaurant, Tilt, for nearly a decade and a half. Located among the charming craftsman of Wallingford, Tilth was only the second certified organic restaurant in the country when it debuted. Haines’s cooking in Tilt’s small kitchen supported the work of local farmers, fishermen, foragers, and others, while local և national critics hailed him as his ethos helped usher in a new era of high-class Pacific Northwest cuisine. The lucky regular ones, who celebrated in the same way, felt and tasted the alchemy that took place, crunching countless glasses as the evenings spread pleasantly within the walls of the Tilt butter color. On Ines Road, Hines opened two places, but after the sad closure of one and the sale of the other, he spoke candidly about the difficulty of running restaurants, growing competition, and rising costs as Seattle grew. However, Tilth would behave as he said in the 2019 “Before Time”. “She is my child.”

On March 15, 2020, Tilt’s dining room went silent. The closed restaurant service was closed in Washington state in an attempt to curb COVID-19 incidents. Hines, who agrees with the public health measures taken at the time, saying that “it should have been 100%, should in fact have been more aggressive,” took the “gut-blowing” step, excluding his 17-member body. three from the team. Four of those left in the mess to transform Tilth’s menu into a family-style take on how to bake salmon and papillot at home with a slice of potato, citrus, dill and herb butter. Hines says his sales plummeted immediately. His skeleton crew worked without heat to save money. “We wore jackets and beans,” he recalls. “It was cold there.”

Heinz’s first cookbook, Peak Nutrition. A smart fuel for outdoor adventures “, was published on April 8 last year, presenting the peak of his foreign interests – the dream of culinary experience. But the epidemic left little room for celebration. Under some financial stress that book royalties could not begin to address, Hines used his non-existent free time to pay salaries for a Federal Wage Protection Program loan. The money finally arrived in late April. It felt like a lifeline, even for a moment.

When spring came back in the summer, Hines tried his best to keep Tilt going. Stress only increased. He recalls, “Me can not lose this restaurant This is my life! ‘ “I would feel that way when I woke up. I was going to sleep. I would have the same fear, constant fear.” He had a deep sense of responsibility for those Tilt supported: the rest of the staff, the local suppliers from whom he bought food, who were also under severe financial pressure. What seemed to be a community growing together for more than a decade, marking the land and the water and the weather, had a new, harsh reality. “In essence, you are helping them keep the roof on their ‘bed’,” Hines said. “And you are like that [expletive] “All this will disappear.”

In the continuous process of “continuous problem solving”, he reduced the list of trains. Go out with salmon և papillot, epidemiologically comfortable food: ribs, enchiladas, pasta և cheese. He offered to sell Tilth merchandise. Homemade granola, butter, spiced pie. Online cooking classes with ingredient kits have proven to be time consuming. The special offers on wine only brought so much. Throughout, Haynes remained loyal to the community. There was rainbow sherbet for pride, a donation of profits to the Black Lives Matter, and Mary’s Place collections. When he felt it made sense, in early July last, Hines reopened Tilth for a 50% capacity home-cooked dinner with empty tables with “Reserved for Social Removal” cards. But even in beautiful summer underwear, the little house that was Tilt could not sit still enough to pay the bills.

Ahead of the fall, Hines attempted to keep his beloved Tilt afloat, but to no avail. He stopped paying himself. Then he started diving into his retirement savings to pay the restaurant bills. Sales were down 70% from the pre-epidemic days. “You can’t do much when you don’t have a big patio, you don’t have a big restaurant, so you can have so many people there,” he said. But the numbers of COVID-19 cases were still rising, and the safety of its staff and sponsors was paramount. “Although it destroyed my business, people’s lives are in danger,” he said. After spending out on his PPP loan in mid-October, Hines estimated that the opening would cost him $ 1,500 a month.

Hines closed Tilt forever on October 30. “There is very little support for independent restaurants, very late,” he said at the time. He said that he wanted to be present “for all those who mourn for the restaurant”, “what is left to do”. “No one ever tells you how much to do to close a restaurant,” he said. “It’s about as much work as opening one.” Then the Be Ams Beard winner went into unemployment. At the same time, his wife was able to change her music lessons to Zoom, but lost half of her nanny job because of COVID-19. During the food stories, Hines made a calculation when he added food to his cart, sometimes thinking: “Yes, well, I can not buy it.” He took time for what he called “immobility.” His grief for Tilt’s death – an epoch of his life – but he spoke of an outpouring of support, saying he felt “wrapped in love”. Comparing the loss of others during the epidemic, he described the loss of his restaurant as a “mere trifle”. And he was able to pin his hopes on those like him who were in financial ruin.

“These independent small, craft, artisanal businesses that we create are a reflection of them,” he said. “It is our creativity, our heart and soul, that we invest in any project we are in, so it is possible to remind ourselves that everything that still lives in us.” He said he still has confidence in the community, in his space.

In November, Hines launched a newsletter հետ along with Instagram, offered a restaurant of the week to pick up, seeking to support others in the Seattle industry. He began exchanging recipes to improve his life at home during the epidemic. He took out a 30-day health challenge, which contained positive humor. The “EMBRACE FAILURE” video showed him stuck in the water of the cross-country skiing, laughing. “Get down, get up,” he wrote.

Thanks to Heinz’s infinite peace of mind, the new year brought new hope with new projects. Eddie Bauer approached him about the partnership. One of the partners, a female owner, asked for advice on a juice startup. The program for selling organic energy bars has started to move forward. More partnerships are emerging with local, community-friendly companies, including Brandi Carlile Winery, XOBC Cellars, which has its own irons on fire. Hines also finally felt that he could speak out in defense of psilocybin, the decriminalization of the psychoactive ingredient found in “magic mushrooms”, through more herbal medicine, Decrim Nature Seattle. There, when three different medications failed her, she says, the microdose “made it a lot easier for me to deal with anxiety and depression.” He and his wife are hoping to move into their Mazama cabin with their puppet Hank this spring. He just turned 1 year old.

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