West Seattle residents David and Rebecca Makuen think they have created the world's greatest burger, but they aren't settling for a mere restaurant to house their creation. They've taken their meat national.

The Makuens are the founders of BuiltBurger, a Web-based company that creates and freezes gourmet burgers, ready to be shipped out to customers around the country.

David Makuen said the idea for BuiltBurger was formed about a year ago, springing from a passion for grilling and an inability to find a truly great burger.

"We believe that food is in its most delicious state when grilled," he said. "We were really intrigued by being able to make the world's greatest burger."

The Makuens moved from New York five years ago and have so far found Seattle much more accommodating to grilling due to the milder weather, he said.

"In New York you can grill four to five months a year," Makuen said. "You can grill pretty much year round in Seattle."

Makuen said BuiltBurger burgers stand apart because they are infused with flavor, rather than just flavored on top.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

West Seattle resident David Makuen, outside a temporary retail site in Ballard, founded, along with his wife, Rebecca, the Web-based burger delivery company BuiltBurger.

With an increase in demand as high as 35 percent this year and a sharp drop in donations of baby food and formula, food banks across the city are desperate for donations. Solid Ground is hoping a three-day initiative starting Aug. 19 by local junk removal company 1-800 RID-OF-IT Junk Removal will help the troubling situation.  

Trish Twomey, Hunger Action Center Manager for Solid Ground, said there is always an increased demand for food items in the summer because school is out and children no longer have access to breakfast or lunch programs.  However, this summer the situation is markedly worse, she said.

“Families in our community are hungry, and the food banks are not able to cope with the increasing need,” said Twomey.  “Working families are faced with tough decisions and choices, and they are turning to food banks to cover some of their food costs.  This food drive is a great way to help families feed their kids.” 

Food and monetary donations are significantly lower this year, while demand is up on average 35 percent across Seattle, according to Solid Ground.  Stocks of formula and baby food are also down significantly.   


When teenagers hit the front door after school, they are looking for food they can inhale instantly. To them, the perfect food is something they can just open and eat.

No cooking, no dirty dishes, just instant calories, fat and salt. That’s why they view chips as a favorite snack.

A microwave is the after-school appliance of choice—good for popping in a “hot pocket,” mini pizza, canned chili or instant ramen style soup.

Most of these foods (especially in the serving size teenage boys eat) exceed their recommended sodium intake for the whole day just in after-school snacking.

If kids can get to a fast food restaurant on the way home, their sodium intake soars even more. One Big Mac with fries and a shake contains more salt than they should eat in a whole day.

High salt foods like chips are even available in school vending machines. And sports drinks have added salt, which most teen athletes don’t need (unless they are exerting themselves in really hot conditions).

Katy Wilkens 2.jpg

The author, Katy G. Wilkens.

Urban Market
6757 8th Ave. N.W.
206 420-8104
Daily 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.

What better time than these sizzling days to pick up dinner on your way home? The heat wave can suck the joy squarely out of cooking, with even we die hard grillers feeling uninspired about standing over 400 degree embers.

Luckily, Ballard's new Take 5 Urban Market wants to make dinner for us. In fact, not only do they want to, they already have, and all we have to do is go get it.

The focused menu offers an ample variety, without the menu overload that dilutes quality of small delis.

We always wonder how it is that small restaurants and delis, particularly when obviously not overloaded with customers, can offer 30 items and keep it all fresh. Try and ask about the availability of the weirdest item on the uber-menu of some places; if they have it, then you're in trouble. Do they freeze it? Is it five thousand years old?

Photo credit: 
Patricia Devine

Take 5 Urban Market, 6757 8th Ave. N.W., has a hearty menu that doesn't disappoint.

This year's Ballard Seafood Fest may have hit its peak at early in the weekend.

That's because at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, 10 brave contestants took the stage to compete in the annual Lutefisk Eating Contest.

Lutefisk is a Scandinavian dish in which fish is soaked in lye until it takes on a gelatinous consistency. It is incredibly pungent and definitely an acquired taste.

Festival-goers packed Bergen place to catch a glimpse of the gastric feat. Sounds of simultaneous disgust and encouragement filled the air.

This year's competition consisted of three rounds. The five contestants who were able to eat a pound of lutefisk quickest were sent on to the second round.

The three who conquered the second-round's half-pound of fish first went on to the championship round.

The final round, consisting of contestants Dora, Keith and Sam, featured slightly more than a half-pound of lutefisk.

After a photo finish and some deliberation, the judges declared Keith the winner over Sam. But both were awarded cash prizes.

Did the judges make the right call? Watch the video and decide for yourself.

See video
Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

Lutefisk Eating Contest contestants Sam and Keith face off at the Ballard Seafood Fest July 25.

Katy G. Wilkens is a department head for Northwest Kidney Center and has a master of science degree and nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. Her columns will be appearing regularly here.

What is this outrageous plant with leaves as big as elephant ears and ruby red stems that are sour beyond belief? Despite poisonous leaves, this plant has the nickname “pie plant.” This plant is rhubarb!

Find rhubarb in your neighborhood farmers’ market or grocery. The color of the rhubarb stalk may vary from deep red to speckled pink to pale green, but it is all good to eat.

If you have an out-of-the-way corner of your garden, buy a piece of rhubarb root, stick it in the ground, fertilize it once a year, and water it once a week. You will be rewarded with a spring and summer supply every year.

Cook the stalks in a variety of ways. Stewed, they yield a tart sauce that can be eaten like applesauce, served over ice cream, or used as filling for pies, crisps or tarts. If rhubarb is a new food to you, try mixing it half-and-half with strawberries or apples. Rhubarb is good flavored with grated orange peel, ginger or cinnamon.

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Photo credit: 
Photo courtesy Katy G. Wilkens

The author.

Skateboarders and chowder enthusiasts alike convened on Ballard Commons Park July 18 for Toad and Salmon's Seattle Chowderbowl.

The Chowderbowl is a combination skateboard competition and chowder cook off that takes place in different city each year.

The event, which went from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., was free to the public and open to the first 50 skaters to register and the first 20 chowders to register.

Cash prizes were awarded to the winners of both competitions.

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Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

Skateboarders warm up at the Ballard Bowl in Ballard Commons Park for Toad and Salmon's Seattle Chowderbowl, a combination skate competition and chowder cook off. CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS.

Rizzo's French Dip
7334 15th Ave. N.W.
206 588-2891

Stop the presses! Run the biggest headline imaginable! "NEW FRENCH DIP SHOP OPENS IN BALLARD!! screams the front page. And indeed, there IS a new French Dip shop in Ballard, and it delivers the goods in ways far too few eating establishments ever approach.

Nestled on 15th Avenue Northwest just below 75th, Rizzo's combines a doll-house sized space, friendly and colorful staff, a menu smaller than some neighborhood lemonade stands, and one indescribably succulent french dip sandwich able of sending diners into a whole new headspace.   

According to Tony, the very friendly fellow who describes himself as the front counter person and "the closest thing we have to a manager," this version of the french dip comes out of Las Angeles, where the owner got the idea to bring this tender and juicy sandwich to Seattle.   

Known as the home of the French Dip, Los Angeles boasts french dip rival eateries Philippe's and Cole's. They've been arguing since 1908 over which one was the first to bring forth the french dip (originally "French Dipped"), with no resolution to the question in sight.

Photo credit: 
Jim Anderson

Rizzo's French Dip, 7334 15th Ave. N.W., is authentically good, say the Ballard Food Police.

Salty's on Alki will be hosting the annual fundraiser “Cooking with Class” on Sept. 15 this year.

At least 22 chefs will donate food and time. Participants choose three chefs and interact with them, actually making the dishes and learning their techniques. Later, the food is paired with wines from the Northwest.

There will be appetizers before the event starts, and a wine and beer tasting table as well. John Curley, formerly of Evening Magazine, is the auctioneer who promises to keep everyone involved and laughing.

There will also be a raffle ($2 tickets) with items like knife sets, overnight stay at The Edgewater and Hotel Ãndra, and other culinary items.

Tickets cost $125, and proceeds benefit the residents and participants of Providence Heritage House at the Market and Providence ElderPlace. Both programs ensure that our frail elderly have the opportunity to live as independently as possible, making their own decisions and getting the care they need.

Photo credit: 
Photo courtesy Salty's on Alki

Jeremy McLachlan, Salty's on Alki Executive Chef and Gabriel Cabrera, Salty's at Redondo Executive Chef are pictured above with Mark Williams, Executive Director of Heritage House.

Le Gourmand
425 N.W. Market St.
Wednesday - Saturday, 5:30 - 10 p.m.

As Ballard's long-loved classic French restaurant, Le Gourmand was one of the first to tout the importance of locally available, fresh and seasonal ingredients.

Chef owner Bruce Naftaly is credited with inventing a whole new cuisine based on Northwest ingredients. Expensive and elegant, the restaurant has always been a haven for those who appreciate perfection and don't mind dawdling over dinner, sometimes for hours.

Le Gourmand likes to do things the old way.

Even Le Gourmand has been affected by the current recession, and to stir up some business they've begun offering a less pricey version of their prix-fixe menu, $45 for three courses.

The ingredients are still fresh and local, and the purveyors are listed on the menu, a practice started at Le Gourmand well before other restaurants caught on to the trend. Sadly, this menu does not live up to expectations.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

Le Gourmand is located at 425 N.W. Market St.

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