May 15th and 16th 2010 meant the Seattle Cheese Festival. Tents, trucks and toothpicks dotted the market as folks milled about (some with red wine on the lips and throwin' elbows to get that damn free sample!). For two days, the street was chauk-full of people and blocked off to normal traffic. We were selling our fish as normal, touting the merits of smoked salmon and buttery Beecher's Handmade Clean Slate. The sun was out and the Copper River Kings and Sockeyes flew like boeing 747's. So basically, just another weekend in Seattle.
Once the bars are full at 7pm, there's a line around the block at the Showbox Theater, and people begin to make dinner plans, nine-year fishmonger Anders Miller and former fishmonger turned restaurateur Dan Bugge are hard at work. Steamer clams with chorizo and white wine fill the air. Two floors above the market bricks at Matt's in the Market, Anders and Dan's party of 14 has downed their pork belly pattes, Mamma Lil's Peppers and are beginning to drool for their Skagit River King Salmon and halibut dusted with Asparagus puree and pancetta.
"We've been doing this for five or six years now," Dan says referring to his participation in the Jacob Green's charity auction.
"He's retired from the tossing part at the auction but we can still collaborate on the food," Anders says as he maneuvers around his fellow chef-coat clad, backwards hat wearing fishmonger and long-time friend. "We've been buddies for a long time, I'm just glad we can keep a tradition like this going."
After two or three years of the auction dinner occurring at the winner John DeVore's house in Redmond, Dan and Anders have been throwing this private party at Dan's 52-seat restaurant ever since he became co-owner back in 2007. "We're not usually open on Sunday nights. I can cook with my buddy for a charity with awesome people and not stress about anything else," Dan says.
In his 13 year National Football League career, Jacob Green played twelve seasons for the Seattle Seahawks, as number 79, and one season for the San Francisco 49ers. As his father endured chemo, Green decided to begin using his fame for a good cause at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dan, being a longtime Seahawk fan and experiencing something similar with his father wanted to get on board. "Whether it's for the Kirkland Boys and Girls Club with Steve Largent or here at my own restaurant, the auctions are always fun. We raise tons of money for a good cause and hopefully in the future, we'll continue to grow."
We at Pike Place Fish give back a lot and whenever we can do so with food, you can be sure it's good. "Keeping it local, fresh and now a partnership with the fish market and my restaurant, it's only going to get better," said Dan.
With a solid group of return diners, one including Don James the "Dawgfather" of University of Washington football, you can't fault Dan and Anders for being ambitious. "You coached me well Mr. James," said Anders. "At the auction when I caught a fish, you had to remind me to put down my wine glass! So thanks coach".
This summer at the Westin in Seattle, the auction will happen again and if John DeVore's has anything to say about it, you won't get anywhere near his hallowed tradition. "Good part is we can have a delicious dinner served by two guys we trust, and my friends and family can experience what the market has to offer; some of them have never even been down here," says DeVores.