This year’s F2C2 event is dedicated to our dear friend Jon Rowley, who passed away last October, 4 at his home on Vashon Island. Jon was a member and strong supporter of our organization, going back to the early years of Chefs Collaborative, and even the earlier days of the original FORKS.
Most remember Jon for introducing the first Copper River salmon to Seattle, but he was also directly involved with marketing native Olympia Oysters, Totten Inlet Virginica oysters, Met Market’s Peach-O-Rama, Frog Hollow peaches, Comice pears, and Shuksan strawberries. Over twenty five years ago Jon created the recipe for the drop biscuit that all of Anthony’s restaurants use for their strawberry shortcake. His exact recipe is still used to this day.
Jon was a marketing genius and food consultant extraordinaire. He also excelled in creating food events that not only promoted a certain food, but created a fun environment at each event. His Walrus & Carpenter low tide beach picnics were described as ‘magic’. People still talk about the Low Tide Mud Runs at the Bivalve Bash parties on Samish Bay.
One of Jon’s most successful promotional events was his Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition, which he called ‘speed dating for oysters and wine’. It involved eating an oyster, chewing it carefully, and sipping the wine, going with your first impression of what wines go best with Kumamoto oysters. The wines were not judged based on their own merits, but rather how the wine’s flavor goes with the oyster. In Jon’s words, “The ideal oyster wine is crisp, clean, and gets out of the way to let the taste of the next oyster come through.” Wines were submitted based on what the winemakers felt were their best oyster-friendly wines, and were accepted from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California.This event was held for over 20 years, with judging taking place in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle.
Jon’s innovative spirit and presence in the food community will live on for many years, not only in the Seattle area, but across the United States. Jon Rowley, we will miss you greatly.