Tilth Restaurant

Table Talk
October 30, 2007, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Events, Lectures

Today, I’m the guest speaker for a class called “Table Talk: Food, Culture and Development” at the University of Washington in Bothell. I invite the students to start a conversation with me here about their thoughts on the topic of sustainability — or anything related to food. Below, I’ve attached my lecture notes in case anyone is interested seeing my thought process.

— Chef Maria

University of Washington, Bothell Lecture

Guest Lecture: Chef/Owner Maria Hines, Tilth Restaurant, Seattle (Website: http://www.tilthrestaurant.com. Blog:https://tilthblog.wordpress.com/.)

Lecture Overview

A. Perspectives on the aesthetics for composing a dish.
We’ll discuss balance, texture, flavor combination, quality of ingredients, umami, terroir, and scourcing.

B. Sustainability and Organics
We’ll explore the farmer-chef connection, sustainability definitions, eating local, bioregions, biodiversity, food shed security, marine ecosystem safety, and organics.

A. Perspectives on the aesthetics for composing a dish.

I. The Aesthetic

– A composed dish is a dish that has multiple components on one plate.
– (Ex: steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans).
– In order for a composed dish to feel holistic, it needs to be sensual, thoughtful, creative, and delicious. There are several things that need to happen simultaneously to achieve this.
– Start with high quality ingredients that are carefully sourced, usually local, in season, and are organic or wild. It’s important to know where your food comes from and provide a sense of place through the dinner table.
– Let the ingredient’s flavor shine through without masking them heavily in spices or sauces. This style of cooking seems very honest to me. It allows the cook to show their genuine love and respect for the product itself, the farmer, fisher, forager, rancher, or artisan who stewarded the product, and the environmental elements (sun, soil, water, air, etc.) that nurtured the product into existence.
– Showcasing only a select few ingredients on one dish is another way to let the ingredients shine on their own with out making the dish muddy, murky or confused with flavors.
– Utilize all parts of the product, whether it shows up on the dish or not. Again, this shows a sense of respect of all that went into the raising of the product. A lot of times we’ll utilize different parts of the same product in a single dish in order to extenuate it’s diversity.
– (Ex: Savory Corn Flan with sautéed corn kernels, corn foam, and popcorn shoots). In this example, the corn flan has been made with corn cobs, egg, cream, and fresh juiced corn. This provides a silky, creamy mouth feel, full of corn flavor. The corn kernels have been cut off the cob and are sautéed with a little butter, garlic, shallot, & chive. This provides a toothy texture. The corn foam is made of juiced corn, butter, corn broth. This provides an effervescent texture of corn. Than the popcorn shoot that garnishes the plate are the first sprouts of corn and provide a fresh crisp texture.
– Composition of the plate also plays an important role. We tend to eat with our eyes. So if the plate presentation is beautiful, colorful, with architectural differences, and has contour, you’ll begin to feel excitement for eating the dish. Your mind begins to tell you “this will be delicious”.

II. Texture in relation to mouth feel.

– We like the crispy outside of a French fry and the creamy inside that it finishes with. We like the crunchy, creamy, chewy experience of some candy bars. Think of the wonderful toothy ness of a pasta noodle with a creamy sauce.
– Or sometimes we like the experience one texture. Such as the silkiness of ice cream.
– There are also ways to change the original textures of food. Think of the textural difference between a potato chip and mashed potatoes.
– There are all sorts of cooking techniques that are applied to change texture. (Ex: blanching, roasting, braising, sous-vide, spherification, poaching, freezing, etc.)

III. Balance of flavors

– The balance of flavors is what makes your taste buds send happy signals up to your brain. We all know what that joyous experience feels like. It’s up to the cook to create that experience. The four FDA approved taste senses include sweet, bitter, salty, and sour. There are some basic flavor combinations that can show up in a number of different foods. Flavors that tend to go well together are sweet and salty, sweet and savory, bright acidity cuts through rich fattiness, etc.
– An example of great flavor combinations would be a cheeseburger. The beef provides meaty, iron, earthy, and smoky. Ketchup provides sweet, acidity, spices. Mustard provides sourness. Cheese provides rich, sharp, nuttiness. Lettuce provides a touch of bitterness and freshness.
– Acidity will lengthen the flavor finish in food.
– Salt will heighten flavors in food.
– You can combine these tastes creatively anyway you want. (Ex: candied bacon provides a sweet and salty experience).

III. Umami

– What is umami?
– Umami is the fifth basic taste discovered in the early 1900’s. In 1990, umami became widely accepted as the fifth flavor taste, but not by the FDA.
– It’s a Japanese word that roughly translates to “robust” or “savory.”- Umami is the flavor sensation caused by the presence of free glutamate in food. Glutamate is the most widely occurring amino acid in nature and main component of proteins.
– Umami can blend with other tastes to create a new level of flavor.
– Since it’s difficult to taste on its own, it is identified better with the presence of other tastes.
– Foods high in umami are parmesan cheese, ham, salami, dried foods, cured foods, fish sauce, msg, mushrooms, tomatoes, soy sauce, steak, chicken, etc.
– Being able to create the feeling of umami in a composed dish is to create the biggest flavor sensation that encompasses a sense of smell, emotions, and taste.

IV. Terroir

– What is Terroir?
– Terroir is literally being able to taste where your food comes from.
– Think about how wine has so many different flavors. Some flavors are contributed from the barrels or stainless tanks they are aged in, but the majority of the flavor is coming from the land the grape vines have grown on for generation after generation. It’s the flavor of the soil, the stone, gravel, slate, limestone, ocean breeze, neighboring fruit orchard, etc. that helps define the flavor of that grape to make the wine.
– When you eat Skagit River Ranch Grass Fed Beef, you can actually taste the grassiness in the beef. This is experiencing terroir.
– When you eat Juniper Grove’s, Tumalo Tomme cheese, from Oregon, you can taste the fern & pine in the cheese because of the neighboring evergreens in the area.
– Creating dishes using local products provides a sense of place which connects you deeper to the land you live on. It’s to be protected, cared for, and celebrated.

B. Sustainability and Organics

I. The Farmer-Chef Connection

– This relationship is vital. It brings you closer to the food and establishes a feeling of interconnectedness.
– Buying from farmers keeps farmers farming which ensures farmland to remain farmland.
– It is a privilege to cook with beautifully produced food. Getting to know the people who produce these products, draws you closer to the source of your food shed.
– A sense of community is developed when harvesters and cooks, meet, talk and get to know one another.
– The food is better in quality because it’s generally harvested a few short days prior to receiving it.
– At Tilth, I design the menu around what’s coming out of the ground. To give ourselves the flexibility to do so, we change the menu every month, sometimes even more often.
– Farmer’s markets is a way to source out new products, meet new farmers, ranchers, foragers, artisans & fishers.
– Farmers teach us what grows best where in our region and why.
– You learn what foods are growing in your region seasonally by what is being sold at the farmers market. Cooking seasonally gives you a sense of moving with the earth. Together with the land, you celebrate the bounty that each season has to offer.
– It’s also important to visit your artisan producers such as cheese makers, chocolate makers, coffee roasters, etc. Learning about the creativity, thought, care, effort, and attention that goes into their craft allows you to carry that feeling when composing a dish or cooking with their product.
– Touring the farms, ranches, woods, and waters provides incredible inspiration in cooking in the kitchen.

II. Sustainable Definitions
– see hand out for definitions.
– How does sustainable food affect you personally?
– Who and what benefits from sustainability?
– What’s the benefit of organic food systems?
– Why are heirloom products important?

III. Sustainable Marine Ecosystems

– The Monterey Bay Aquarium website provides seafood watch cards that can help us make better decisions when cooking or eating sustainable seafood.
– Seafood sustainability is defined in a number of ways.
– The number of species that are in existence allows us to make choices as to weather we should be fishing them. If the species are low in stock, than naturally the best choice is to not fish them into extinction. Some regions are better than others in protecting the marine wildlife stock.
– The stronger the fishery management that is in place provides the fishermen a better chance of continuing to fish in the area for future generations. This will continue fishing as a viable part of the local economy, ensure food security, and keep the traditions of the area alive.
– The method of catching wild seafood is an important role in the sustainability of the marine ecology and a lower death count in bi-catch.
– Farming fish can be harmful. For instance, farmed salmon that are caged in the ocean can contaminate wild salmon. If the farmed salmon has a decease that is unnatural to the wild salmon that are swimming in the area, and the epidemic spreads to all the wild salmon in that location, than there will be no more wild salmon to return back to the same river they have been spawning in for generations. The bears that rely on coming back to this river every season to eat the salmon will now having feeding issues, and the local ecosystem has a chain reaction that can no longer support the life in the area that it once did.
– Diver Scallops is a sustainable method that is used when divers literally dive down and harvest scallops. Sometimes, scallops are dredged up by a machine that tears up the marine floor which is not considered sustainable.

V. Eating Local

– Why is eating local important?
– Eating local cuts down on pollution caused from fossil fuels. The average food you buy at the grocery store has traveled 1,500 miles.
– It creates community when you buy from your local producers.
– Buying anything local supports are local economy.
– Food tastes better when it’s local because it’s picked at ripeness and wasn’t picked so far ahead to make a long travel distance.
– It creates a sense of place.
– What is bioregional?
– A bioregion is largely mapped by watersheds and in our bioregions case, the ecosystem that is supported by the evergreens. This is a way of mapping that is not bound by politics, state lines, etc.
– Our bioregion is called Cascadia.
– There are a lot of people who have challenged themselves by going on a “localvore” diet. A localvore will choose a parameter, such as a 100 mile radius from where they live, and strive to eat only foods that are grown, produced, or foraged within that boundary.
– Eating local create a need for variety in the area which increases biodiversity.
– Biodiversity helps slow down monoculture which in turn prevents thing like the potato famine, etc.

VI. Organics

– Buying certified organic ensures accountability against genetically modified, synthetic fertilizer, or chemicals used in food.
– Sustainability or Natural are not USDA certified labels. So you can’t always be sure that everyone who labels their package with these words are truly sustainable or natural. There is no organization that regulates these labels.
– Unfortunately, organic does not always mean sustainable. For instance, if you buy baby carrots at the grocery store that is over packaged in energy consuming plastic, flown or driven from another state utilizing fossil fuel, and the baby carrots are monocultured, leaving no room for biodiversity on the land it came from, than it may indeed be organic, but not very sustainable.
– For more information on organics, check out the Organic Consumer Association web site.

VII. Individual Actions you can take to improve Sustainability in your life and your bioregion

– Eat Local Foods
– Buy from locally owned business’s
– Shop at Farmer’s Markets
– Eat foods you know are sustainable, natural, or organic as much as you can
– Join a local CSA (community supported agriculture)
– Visit the Organic Consumer Association web site
– When buying, ask questions about your food was produced



I am really inspired by the idea of trying to eat seasonably and locally. It is important to know where our food is coming from because it is going in to our bodies. I feel your concern for the patrons in your restaurant is great. People often ignore how the food got on their plate. And for a chef to take initiative to find the best food to put on a patrons plate is refreshing. Also I would like to give you kudos on building relationships with the people you get food from. A restaurant like yours is its own community. I hope more chefs follow the care you put into your restaurant.

Comment by Lisa Healow

I find the topic of sustainability in relation to food very interesting. I think it is great that restaurants support local farmers by buying food from there rather than from wholesale markets. I never knew that it was the same price buying it from a farmer as opposed to a larger market if you skip the middle man. It has really opened my eyes as to how much more quality the food will be if they are farmed from someone that you have good relations with than if its bought just from a wholesale market.

This definitely related to our class in the way that we can connect the way food is made to the way we see it on the plate ready to eat. Sometimes we take for granted what we eat and not really think about how it was really made and where the food came from i.e. from local farmers and other places. This lecture has definitely opened my eyes as to where food has come from and the different processes of preparing the food.

Comment by Richmond

Chef Maria’s speech about food and sustainability was very inspiring and allowed me to further my knowledge on the subjects she talked about. I found it very interesting that the majority of the food used in her restaurant is organic and grown locally. She is dedicated to finding the highest quality organic foods and it shows in the end result. Chef Maria is in a way a pioneer of restaurants that want to do it the right way and still keep their menus at a reasonable price. I believe that soon, other restaurants will follow in her footsteps.

Comment by Daniel Floyd

It was a pleasure to have you visit our class. I have never met a successful chef in real life, and one with many food ethics. I really like the food sampling experiment, the plums were delicious, and I ate the papaya wrong. The cheeses either tasted, or smelled weird. It nice to know that we have an organic restaurant in our area that supports sustainability. I wish you and your restaurant great success and I hope to visit you soon.

Comment by Sam

It is really nice to know that there is a restaurant close to my home that is known for having locally grown, organic food. I really enjoyed the lecture that you brought to us here at the University of Washington. I learned a lot about the tastes and senses of food that I never thought was important to know. I have been able to learn a lot after your presentation through my personal experiences with food now knowing what you were able to teach us. Thank you so much for the time you took from your day to teach us about food and your experience with locally grown and sold items you use in your restaurant today.

Comment by Jordan

Best class to date! I found it very interesting the amount of work you put into providing your customers with the best possible array of food available. It is not often you find a restaurant that takes the time to understand the global impact of where your food comes from and incorporates it into the menu. After you spoke to the class I think that all restaurants should strive to attain an organic level in their menus. Your lecture makes me think twice about where I go to eat and what I purchase because of your talk on supporting the local economy. I did not realize the large decline in the local farming economy and I thought of your lecture when I currently read an article about the Treetops factory closing down in Wenatchee. It seems as though you have put a lot of work into your own success and I will definitely be there to try Tilth in the near future. Thank you for coming into our class!

Comment by Tony Hagen

I think what Chef Maria Hines spoke to our class about really opened my mind to organic foods. When she talked about how at her restaurant she uses ingredients from places she personally knows, it really made me think about how I should know where the food I put in my body comes from. When she brought out the little plate of food for us to try, I could really tell the difference between the local foods and the imported. She brought in these fabulous fresh Washington plums compared to a papaya from Hawaii that was out of season and sour. After hearing her lecture I was really inspired to go to the University district farmers market. When Chef Maria spoke to our class she really emphasized how farmers markets are fun and useful. After I attended the farmers market I could see what she meant. Every farmer there was truly interested and invested in the product they made. The proud looks on their faces said it all. I was truly inspired.

Comment by Hillary

Prior to this lecture I was very eager to learn about the job description of being a chef, and what it takes to put a successful restaurant together. I learned a great deal about not only the business itself, but the food and personal care that goes into each plate made as well. It seems that this restaurant knows how to capture the interest of their customers, and meet their needs. I was very impressed that Chef Maria took great pride in making sure that she knew where the food she was serving came from. I could tell that she had a lot of knowledge in this area, and I thought it was great that Tilth Restaurant supports local farmers. Thank you for coming to speak to our class and teach us more about the restaurant, great food, and how it plays a huge role in our economy. I look forward to hearing more great things about this restaurant.

Comment by Alyssa Koch

I found it interesting and great that Chef Maria has a close and friendly relationship with the farmers, fisherman and producers of the food that she serves at Tilth. From this association, Chef Maria receives superior quality food. Before listening to Chef Maria, I never realized how important it was to establish that relationship. It’s extraordinary that Chef Maria focuses and tries to only use organic products in every meal that she creates. However, I thought it was weird that she can only say the food is 90 percent organic because of the UFDA. Chef Maria attempts to use locally grown produce which helps support the local economy and community. From the farmer- chef relationship Chef Maria changes her menu monthly and sometimes bi-weekly, in order to use the freshest and in season ingredients in order to achieve and produce the best dishes possible. From Chef Maria’s information that she presented to my college class, I now have a new perspective of the small restaurant industry.

Comment by Adriana Mykytyn

It is great that your restaurant is 95% organic and that your restaurant is doing its part in both protecting the environment and its patrons by offering healthier alternatives through organic foods. In many of these large restaurants the consumer never knows what and what is not environmentally friendly on the menu and this makes it difficult to make buying decisions that help protect our future and the future of our planet. But in a restaurant like yours with almost everything being seasonal/ sustainable/ environmentally friendly we can feel good about where our money is going. Not to mention supporting our local economy.

Comment by Tanner

In response to Maria Hines’ lesson and discussion at UW Bothell, I found it very interesting to learn about the importance of origin of ingredients. One thing, perhaps, that more and more people are lacking today is food knowledge- when you buy a block of cheese from the grocery store, it won’t be labeled with the condition of the cows that it came from, or how far the cheese had to travel before it reached you, the consumer. It was exciting to hear about the local farms growing all organic produce, or the fisherman who is paid by the quality of the fish and not the pound, and personal friends who sell foods that are in season, all of which Maria continues to do business with. I suppose it is common, and I too was one of them, for people to not know or sometimes not even care where their food comes from. But since that lesson I have become much more aware of the quality of my food, and benefit from what I might even call its pureness.

Comment by Hollie Jennings

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard that chef Maria Hines was coming to class. The lecture turned out to be very interesting and I learned a lot of things that I thought I already knew, but found my definition wasn’t exactly correct. For example, the different types of techniques to cooking, and I never even thought about freezing being a type of cooking. I never realized how unique it was to know where each ingredient in your restaurant comes from, but it makes me very interested in coming to the restaurant and seeing if I can tell a difference in the food being all organic. I feel like I learned a lot from the lecture and I really enjoyed all the facts that were given because a lot of them I didn’t know. The notes that you brought with you were also very helpful because I could read along instead of writing it all down but still have all the information to look back on whenever I may forget something you mentioned.

Comment by Megan Agustin

Throughout the quarter in Table Talk we have discussed many different aspects of food; such as the origins, different tastes, the impact it has on communities etc. The fact that you brought in different types of food to share with us made the connection between your visit and the topic of our class much closer. Comparing fresh food and food from other countries gave us a better “real-world” understanding of what we have learned in Table Talk so far. We have learned the difference in economy and so forth when it comes to buying locally grown food compared to the alternative; however being able to taste the factory, store bought cheese and comparing it to the local, “real” cheese let us understand first hand the difference it has. Hearing what you had to say gave us another view to what we have been studding and trying to comprehend all quarter long.

Comment by Stephanie

Your visit to our class was very interesting. I learned a lot about the textures, tastes, and flavors of food and also heard a lot of new terms. An interesting cooking method you introduced to us, that I would want to take upon, is sous-vide – the taste it produces as well as the cooking process. I was actually telling my mom the other day how you stated that we should use a lot of salt to season our food with, even though it is not that healthy because my mom tries not to use a lot of salt when she cooks. I told her how you suggested tasting a bite of something with some salt, then put more on and try it again; she cooks a lot and she said that is what she does too! All in all, your information about your restaurant and food as well as the tasting of the different types of food you gave us was well enjoyed. You made me really want to go try out your restaurant, so expect me sometime soon!

Comment by Alexa

Before you visited our Table Talk class, I did not think about where our food comes from or what the animal I ate was fed. I ate because it tasted good or I was hungry, but now I respect food and I know now how important it is to know the origins of the food you are eating. It amazed me that you knew all the specifics of the ingredients that you put in the food that you serve. Now, every time I take a bite of my food, I wonder where this came from and how it came to me. Thank you for this new enlightenment.

Comment by Esther

I first want to say thank you for taking the time to come to our class as a guest speaker. From your personally experience and lecture, I learned more about senses and the taste of food than I knew before. Now when I go out to dinner with friends or family I try to think about the meal in which I’m about to participate in. Where did the food come from? How was it prepared? For all I know, a five star restaurant could be buying it’s steaks from the same place as the local Red Robin. I hope one day to experience a restaurant that takes as much responsibility in the care an quality of their food as yours does.

Comment by Bridgette

In table talk, we talked about food itself, food production, how food creates a relationship amongst people, and the meaning of meals. When Chef Maria came to talk to us about her restaurant and food, I wasn’t sure how it would relate to our class. But as she lectured, I understood the connection with her our class. When you challenged us to eat local, I did try. But I ended up failing maybe the third day. Even though I know buying local food is good for our local economy, we can only go so far with buying local food. Some ingredients are only grown in certain areas, some ingredients to make ethnic food is only available from that certain country. I’ll try again….

Comment by aaa

I found Chef Maria’s lecture incredibly interesting and extremely enlightening. Sustainability was something I had never really thought about before, but now I realize how important it is to the welfare of the environment. Food is a major part of life, and the quality of our food effects not only those who eat it, but those who produce it and make it available to be eaten. I think it is great what Chef Maria is doing at Tilth to support organic and sustainable agriculture. Protecting the environment and providing fair wages for farmers are important to me and through what I’ve learned I hope to make changes in my everyday life to help support sustainable agriculture.

Comment by Emily

It was really nice to have you come to our class and speak about your restaurant. I would have to say the best part of your visit was when we discussed where you got your food, and how the food from other regions of the world. The fruit that originated from other states or countries then Washington had very little taste if no taste at all. I really like the fact that 95% of the products used in your kitchen were organic, and even better you tried getting most of the product you could from Washington and local farms. It really brings out the taste when the food is all fresh. I am looking forward to coming by and going out to dinner.

Comment by Michael Good

Maria, your visit to our class was very informational. You opened up my eyes to how my senses perceive different types of ingredients. Furthermore, the way you described the relationship between “strong” taste foods and “weak” taste foods was critical to my understanding of the food samples you brought in. I think that although the papaya was very low in taste sensation; it can be used as a vital ingredient to set a type of mood or theme to a dish. The cheese was also interesting. I personally could not handle it on its own but with a cracker it would be superb. Overall, I learned a plethora on the relationship on “exotisizing the familiar” when it comes to culinary arts.

Comment by Soroosh

Over the past year it has occurred to me the significance that sustainable agriculture has on us through the food we eat. When I begin to think of sustainability I think of Starbucks Coffee and remember when I first learned about the fair trade practices that take place from the time the coffee is grown and roasted to when we purchase it in our local coffee shop. Starbucks makes the effort to support the coffee farms in methods such as building schools or improving water supply and us consumers are able to experience this practice by drinking the Starbucks Coffee. During your discussion the importance of this issue was further impressed upon me not only regarding the fair wages and living conditions for the farmers and growers but of the positive impact on the environment and the healthy results for both the animals and us, the consumers.

Comment by Amanda Juris

As I came into class the world of organic food was a weird concept for me, because I had never really thought about the way that food was grown. It never occurred to me that the way the food is grown could affect everything. After the lecture in our class I really understand what it means to eat at an organic restaurant. Therefore the lecture we had in our class was a very interesting experience.

Comment by Rostik Vaynshteyn

Thank you so much for coming to our class, I found your style of cooking very interesting and can’t wait to visit your restaurant someday. It is refreshing to find a restaurant that only serves local and organic foods providing it’s guest with sustainable food, the necessities of life. With Tilth only serving local foods, these foods are in season making them the ripest and freshest. Your lecture made me see that foods that I am eating are not the best quality they could be. My family and I eat a lot of different types of fruits; mangos, bananas, pears, apples, ect. But because most of the fruits are grown over seas, I’m losing the experience of eating that fruit straight off the tree, depriving me of its freshest taste. Thanks again for coming to class; it really opened my eyes to the foods being grown in the area that I live in.
-Nicole Hertel

Comment by Nicole Hertel

I can’t honestly say that after the lecture I was convinced of the importance of “sustainability” or having organic meals. However, it was still quite an enlightening lecture. I’ve been to multiple farmer’s markets over the past few years, mainly due to lower prices and in season produce, but I never realized until this lecture that the money I spent at these markets was directly responsible for sustaining small farms. The samples Chef Hines provided to us to show us the difference between organic, locally produced, in season produce and mass produced standard super market produce were incredible. Her intention in contrasting the locally grown organic plums with the Hawaiian papaya could not have been clearer.

However, I disagree with her assessment of how important sustainability is. Her argument that the chemicals used in modernized farming were harmful fell short when I considered the fact that even now, super market produce is primarily treated with pesticides and other chemicals. Evidently, they aren’t that harmful. Also, it seems Chef Hines knowledge of farming techniques is a bit more limited, although that’s fairly normal (she is a chef, not a scientist).

It was a very interesting lecture, and while I did necessarily agree with everything she said, I still found it very enlightening and educational. Also, the organic produce she provided to us during the lecture was very good, and if that’s the food they use in Tilth, it is definitely worth a visit.

Comment by Soma Cruz

When Chef Maria visited our class, she brought few food examples for the class. One of them was a plum. What was amazing about the plum was that it was from a farmer in Washington. I was surprised to hear that we had plum that were actually sweet and delicious. Washington was known as the best Apple, but not plums. When I get the chance, I would really love to visit the farm and bring some home for the family.

Comment by Vivien

My name is Ashley Dustin and I currently attend the University of Washington Bothell and I am in Table Talk class. When Maria came to our class to talk about her restaurant, I learned a lot about organic foods and found her lecture very interesting. She told us how at Tilth, they utilize every part of the food. I think that’s great and that not many people do that. She told us about all the different kinds of cooking which some of them I had not even heard about. She discussed how a high quality dish is composed and went into depth even on the architecture and color contrast of each dish. It shocked me when she said that food travels about 15 hundred miles before it reaches the grocery store. She seemed very enthusiastic about cooking and about how she knows the farmers and people who provide the food for her restaurant. I had never thought about where my food comes from before, I just eat it. She encouraged us to shop at the farmer’s market and talk to the farmers who grow the food you are eating. I enjoyed learning about where food comes from and the stuff you never think about from Maria, it made me want to go and try out her restaurant!

Comment by Ashley D.


I really enjoyed your lecture this past week. Coming from a restaurant environment where I work, I felt that I shared and almost connected with your passion for food in a meaningful way. I am very health conscious and it’s really amazing that there are people out there like you that share that love, and also use that love to help others. I completely respect what you do, and I hope to very soon visit your restaurant. Your menu sounds amazing and makes my mouth water just by reading the definitions. I hope that your restaurant stays around for many years to come, and will hopefully influence others in the surrounding area to follow the amazing phenomenon that is occurring in your kitchen. Thank you so much again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to educate us, and I hope to experience your work soon.

Alexa Harrison

Comment by Alexa

As I walked into the second session of class, an unfamiliar face caught my eye at the front of the room. Little did I know, I would soon begin to understand the effort put forth into running a restaurant; especially one at this caliber.
Several specific topics that were touched on during the lecture made me think about the broader aspects of running a restaurant. The general aesthetics of the restaurant, the obvious thought put into the texture and “mouth” feel of every dish, their careful attention to balancing flavors in every dish, their sensibility in using every part of the products and supplies they receive, the connection they made between the supplier and the restaurant itself, and many other factors made me reflect on what a restaurant truly is, and how others are operated compared to Tilth. She compared these traits to the economic and agricultural aspects of food, and how these all affect us in one way or another which I thought was valuable knowledge often overlooked by the general public.
Her passion about the subject was apparent after listening to her presentation, and that was further exemplified by the small, but potent, demo she provided where we all tasted different foods, and then compared them with one another. Based on her evident dedication to the restaurant and its broader impact; and the new insight I gained, a visit to Tilth is something I definitely plan on doing!

Comment by Brian Hutson

Hey Maria!
Thanks for presenting in class! It was very full and enriching. Before you’re presentation I never thought of using all five senses while eating. Eating is such a mechanical thing these days that i feel like most people take for granted. But on a broader line, I never knew where I purchased my food can impact the economy so much. Like, buying produce at a local farmer’s market rather than the grocery store can benefit the farmers as well as the land where we pick our food.Having the idea that major manufacturers and over processed food in our lives doesn’t comfort me. Your presentation definitely changed me, from now on I want to support the small local families and keep them still in our lives.

Comment by Tiffany

When Chef Maria Hines came into our table talk class she talked of the perspective on the aesthetics for composing a dish, and sustainability and organics. When composing a dish it seems that Chef Hines cooks with an intention to develop a relationship between her guests of the restaurant and the foods that are locally grown; developing a greater bond between the people and their land. In this context being Washington state! Thus relating to sustainability and organics. Sustainability being a low impact on the land due to organic farming, in addition to a healthier body and less pollution to the earth. This also strengthens the relationship between the farmers and chefs of the Tilth restaurant. It allows farmland to remain intact which contributes to the local economy, and biodiversity. An importance that many lack to contribute to due to prices in supermarkets.

Comment by Kara Conde

Thank you for the lecture you gave us upon your visit it was really helpful. I learnt various terms that I had never heard of before such as umami that. Your lecture helped emphasis what we are taught in class this is, when we eat food we should try and conceptualize what we are eating and I have started putting that into practice. Your lecture was also similar to what we learnt when we went to Theo chocolate factory you said that we could alter the taste and texture of the food and that is exactly what we were taught at the chocolate factory. I cannot exhaust all what you lectured but I’d like you to know that your visit was truly appreciated and I hope that you may come again and if I have the time and money I’ll be sure to pop by your restaurant.

Comment by JaneAnn Wanderi

I found Chef Hines presentation to our class to be a very interesting one. Before I took this class I had never heard of an organic restaurant. I really appreciated how she brought a plate with two types of cheese, two salts, and two fruits for everyone in the class. It was a great way to experience the difference commercially sold food, and food from a farm where you know exactly how it was produced. One cheese that she had us taste was bland and boring, while the other was interesting and full of earthy flavor. Chef Hines told us the difference between the two cheeses and how they are different from one another. I enjoyed hearing how she knew exactly how one of the cheeses was produced from a farmer that she has a strong relationship with. While the other cheese, which was bland, she had no clue about. It was a mixture of milk from numerous areas that have been mixed together for mass production. Last Thursday our class went on a tour of the Theo Chocolate factory in Fremont. It was interesting to hear the connections between how Tilth and Theo both were fair-trade conscious. I really enjoyed Chef Hines presentation and how it tied in perfectly with our tour of the Theo Chocolate factory.

Comment by Brandon Knapp


I was really captured by the presentation you gave our Table Talk class at UW Bothell. It was wonderful to hear how much you had to say about your restaurant and your thoughts about our local farmer’s markets and how they are important to have. I think that it is great to shop at those markets because all the money goes to the farmer’s and we know what kind of job they are doing. When you gave us the fruit from a big supermarket and compared it to the local fruit I was amazed on how different the taste of it was. The fruit from the big supermarket wasn’t even ripe. After hearing your speech, I started to notice the local markets and shop from them. It was also nice to hear that your restaurant is organic, I haven’t even heard about organic restaurants before. It’s strange how rare it is to have organic products these days when at one point everything was organic before mass production started just because of the “convenience” and to preserve the food when we don’t even know what kind of additives are in the food we don’t need. Most of the food the average person eats today doesn’t taste like the real thing and I don’t think that should be happening. That’s why I want to say thanks for coming in and talking with us because you gave me a lot to think about with what I put into my mouth and what goes on into receiving that food.

Sasha Krotova

Comment by Sasha Krotova


Your presentation last Tuesday really touched on some issues regarding food and food production that I don’t really think about. Coming from a family that doesn’t have a strong emphasis on eating vegetables and fruits, I was very interested in learning about how different fruits grown locally versus on a different continent tasted. I normally don’t like plums, but those plums were so juicy and delicious that I completely forgot my distaste for them. And, I never knew Swiss cheese could taste so good! Even though buying homegrown doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, the taste difference is unbelievable. Buying homegrown helps with our state’s agriculture industry and the community puts money into that section of our economy. I also realized that I do purchase some locally grown products. Mainly, my milk. With just that those little slices of plum and cheese, my views on buying locally have changed indefinitely.

Natalie Johnson

Comment by Natalie Johnson

When Maria Hines came to visit my class Table Talk at University of Washington, Bothell, we were able to learn and experience food from a restaurant owner’s point of view. She was able to demonstrate the importance of sustainable food production and how and why she chooses ingredients for her restaurant.

Throughout the quarter, Professor Shayne and Professor Wender have helped us learn that we live to eat and not eat to live. I have learned and experienced that food has a deeper meaning. The food we eat everyday impacts not just us locally, but globally.

Through Maria Hines’ lecture, I was able to notice that the food she puts on a plate has love, care, and passion behind every ingredient. She knows exactly from which farm or factory every ingredient comes. She has a strong connection with the local farmers and knows exactly who is farming her foods. I feel that her passion for food is the same passion that Professor Wender and Professor Shayne have.

Maria creates a great bond between the local communities as a result of the way she purchases goods. Through this, she picks foods that are sustainable, in other words low impact to the land and is healthier for your body. I realized, picking foods that are sustainable, I am not only helping myself, but I am also benefiting the community.

Through her lecture, I now understand what sustainable foods are, what they do for the community, my health, as well as the different ways I can purchase them.

Comment by Susanna Kim

It was really helping to understand about food. That day talk about food and restaurants. To cook food deliciously, have more nutritive elements, idea of products that came from the farm, and some histories of food. Also thing that you give us some fruits, cheeses, and salts, it was awesome that talk about those foods’ taste, history, way of make, and places’ that came from, because of that I feel to get more close

Comment by Sangmo

The guest lecture of Chef Maria Hines was really good and useful. I could get the information about the cooking. I cooked sometimes for my family, I did not really think about the meaning of cooking. After the lecture, I had a chance to think about it deeper like texture, the flavor, umami, and so on. I think I learned how to feel and appreciate the food. The most interesting thing from the lecture was the way of cooking, called sous-vide. I was surprised that how the food was cooked for a long time and how much the cooker put his efforts to make it. Chef Maria also mentioned umami, the fifth basic taste. That was also fascinating that we had the fifth sense to taste flavor. I was glad that I learned a lot about things that I did not know. I really appreciate that. Thank you.

Comment by Ji-Yeon Park

Chef Maria Hines was our first guest who was invited to come into our classroom. To me it was a big pleasure, since I have never met a chef before in my 18 years of my life. My first word in my mind to my first expression meeting Chef Maria Hines was “wow” because she seemed so kind and she was so nice when she was explaining her lecture. I was little bit expecting a scary chef, I guess because the first and last ever chef that I ever seen in television in episode of watching “hell kitchen” Chef had a real image of a real devil. This episode just made me possibly thought that chef’s personality can modify towards horrific side, since they would have lots of stress to instruct other cooker in the kitchen in the restaurant. But instead Chef Maria Hines seems like she enjoy making food at the restaurant with others. =)

Thank you so much for coming into our class for a great lecture!

Comment by lydia

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: