Culinary Council Members

Adam and Jackie Sappington

The Country Cat in Portland

Portland’s husband-and-wife culinary team Adam and Jackie Sappington opened their dream restaurant, The Country Cat Dinner House & Bar in April 2007. Adam serves as the Executive Chef while Jackie plays the role of Pastry Chef, seamlessly blending their talents into a family-driven and community-focused eatery centered on American craft cooking. 

Angus An 

Maenam in Vancouver, BC

At the French Culinary Institute (FCI), Angus worked under culinary greats like Jacques Pépin, Alain Sailhac and André Soltner. He developed his culinary style working with Normand Laprise at Toqué in Montreal and training in David Thompson’s Michelin-starred Thai restaurant, Nahm in London. Angus and his wife, Kate moved to Vancouver to eventually open their Thai restaurant, Maenam. The couple travels to Thailand on a yearly basis to discover new dishes and inspiration for Maenam.

Eric Tanaka

Tom Douglas Restaurants in Seattle

Executive Chef of Tom Douglas Restaurants since 1996 and Partner since 2006, Eric Tanaka (also known as ET) oversees and manages the chefs, menus, and back of house staff of every one of the Tom Douglas Restaurants, including the catering department. Before he became Executive Chef, ET worked several years at Michael's and Gotham Bar and Grill in New York City.  

ET appeared with Tom Douglas on the Food Network’s Iron Chef where they battled Iron Chef Masuhara Morimoto and won, using the secret ingredient of salmon.  In 2004, Eric won a James Beard award for Best Chef Northwest.

Gregory Gourdet

Departure in Portland

Gregory is not your typical chef – he sports mohawks, commutes in the rain on bike, focuses on nutrition and takes personal and professional risks daily. He creates approachable, modern Asian cuisine using traditional and avant-garde techniques, and is playful with flavors, focusing on the new and unexpected. Post culinary school, Gregory worked his way through New York kitchens, landing as Chef de Cuisine at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s 66. Upon moving to Portland, he was tapped to be chef at Urban Farmer, Saucebox, and finally, Departure. 

Jackie Kai Ellis

Beaucoup Bakery in Vancouver, BC

Jackie Kai Ellis has loved baking since she was a little girl. After studying at Paris’ École Gastronomique Bellouet Conseil, Jackie opened Vancouver’s Beaucoup Bakery, combining her love of the comforting North American baking she grew up with and the delicate art of French pastry-making.

Jackie has been named one of Western Living magazine’s Top Foodies Under 40, and her croissants were named the city’s best by Vancouver magazine. 

Jin Soo Yang

Bamboo Sushi in Portland

Spending over half of his life working in the culinary world, Jin found his home at Bamboo Sushi in Portland. ‘Organized Chaos’ in professional kitchens is something Jin thrives on, as well as giving his guests a ‘Wow’ experience, not simply just food to eat. When he isn’t working, Jin likes to eat out at other restaurants and be outdoors—snowboarding, mountain biking, and fishing.


Meeru Dhawala

Shanik in Seattle 

Born in India and raised in Washington DC, Meeru Dhawala is one of the creative minds behind Vij's and Rangoli restaurants in Vancouver BC. She joined her husband (and fellow Culinary Advisory Council Member) Vikram Vij at Vij’s in 1995. Today, Meeru manages more than 100 employees, including her all-female kitchen staff from Punjab, India. 

Meeru opened Shanik restaurant in 2012, expanding her popular Indian cooking to Seattle in the up-and-coming South Lake Union neighborhood. Meeru remains active in the nonprofit community, sitting on the board of directors for the Vancouver Farmers Markets and organizing her annual international food fair, the “Joy of Feeding.”

Rachel Yang

Revel and Joule in Seattle

As a native of Seoul and an alumna of Per Se, Alain Ducasse at the Essex House and DB Bistro Moderne, Rachel incorporated her heritage and training at New York City’s first Korean French Restaurant, D’Or Ahn. Rachel and her husband, Seif Chirchi moved to Seattle to eventually open their Korean steakhouse, Joule. A few years later, the duo opened their second restaurant, Revel — with adjacent bar, Quoin — in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.



Tom Douglas

Dahlia Lounge, Etta's, Palace Kitchen, Lola, Serious Pie, Seatown Seabar and Rotisserie, Cuaoco, Ting Momo, and Bravehorse Tarvern in Seattle, WA

Tom Douglas, along with his wife and business partner, Jackie Cross, owns ten of Seattle’s most exciting restaurants. With almost 30 years in the biz, Tom helped put Seattle on the culinary map by cooking global cuisine using regional and seasonal ingredients. 

Tom also runs a retail bakery, Dahlia Bakery, a biscuit sandwich bar, Serious Biscuit, a catering business, Tom Douglas’ Catering and Events, and an event space, Palace Ballroom. All of Tom’s restaurants are located in the downtown Seattle and South Lake Union neighborhood.  Tom is the author of three cookbooks, and his specialty food line is sold nationwide.

Vikram Vij

Vij’s Restaurant in Vancouver, BC

Born in India, Vikram received his chef certificate from the Salzburg Hotel Management School in Austria, and moved to Canada in 1989 to work at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta. Vikram and his wife, Meeru opened their first Indian restaurant, Vij’s Restaurant in Vancouver, BC in 1994. A few years later, Vikram and Meeru opened their second restaurant, Vij’s Rangoli, and a market selling Vij’s Inspired Indian Cuisine, a line of pre-packaged gourmet curries. Vikram and Meeru have penned two cookbooks: Vij’s: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine, and Vij’s at Home: Relax, Honey.