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Chef Hudson Slater shows his competitive spirit

He's racking up awards for Maxwell's Restaurant in Tacoma

Chef Hudson Slater of Maxwell's Restaurant / photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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It would seem that some local culinary talents are hell bent on taking the community on a journey to flavor country. There is one local chef personality that isn't just delivering quality, carefully crafted dishes to the table tops of his home base restaurant, but also out and about - even as far as Seattle and Gig Harbor.

That man is Chef Hudson Slater of Maxwell's Restaurant and Lounge.

Most recently, Tacomans noshed on Slater's winning slider at the Museum of Glass Slider Competition, his second win at the 3rd annual cook-off. Then, it raced through our Tournament of Burgers bracket competition, laying waste to the 64 burger joint field until it fell to Olympia's Westside Tavern in the championship game.

Foodies who reside just over the bridge in Gig Harbor may have caught another win by Chef Slater during Netshed No. 9's Fight Club, when he went head-to-head, knife-to-knife, Food Network/Chopped/Iron Chef-style against Brix 25 Chef Aidan N. Schauer.

Chef Slater is all over the place throwing down his culinary prowess.

I recently sat down with him to talk about some of his more recent local appearances and what diners should anticipate next.

"I really enjoy cooking competitions, and this is really Tacoma's only one," he said of the MOG Slider Cook-Off. "I love going to it since it is right here in town. I think Mandy (Lane) has done an awesome job making a really unique event that no one else is putting on in the area. This was the best one yet. Perfect amount of competitors, and I really feel that everyone there enjoyed themselves. It was incredible to win again. We were between two tasty sliders, Bite and X Group, so I was stoked to win. I had some great help from Abeille Baking Co. and Lynnae's Gourmet Pickles at the event, and the excellent P-51 Porter from Wingman to make the braised beef. Everything just came together, and we made the best slider. We have it on our bar menu currently at the restaurant. We take our food seriously at Maxwell's, so it is great to win two out of three years for the slider competition."

After a couple of wins under his belt, one would think coming in second in the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Burgers was a blow, but the guy handled it with grace and class.

"The best burger was fun, and we are extremely thankful to everyone that voted regularly to get us that far," he said. "We were surprised to make it that far. That competition really showed how loyal some restaurant patrons are. That was a fun week after the slider competition to keep the energy going. We couldn't be happier about the outcome, and props to Westside Tavern of Olympia."

Maxwell's Restaurant has a delicious reputation and opts to keep it as sustainable as possible, partnering with local food and drink talent when the opportunity arises. The easiest local matrimonies have been with brewing companies, Slater said, and coming up May 17, Maxwell's and Wingman Brewers bring the T-town to Seattle's Bacon and Beer Classic. Yes, you heard me - bacon and beer, sweet nectar of the Northwest Gods.

Wingman "was the foundation to (Maxwell's) Northwest-only beer selection," he continued. "We have a great relationship with them, and it was a natural fit to team up and make beer for the nationally touring Bacon and Beer Classic. We smoked the wheat malt for the Gratzilla beer at Maxwell's with bacon, so it turns out smoky and refreshing and bacon-y all at the same time. It is an incredible beer. We will be serving a spicy candied bacon strip with Bloody Mary jam side by side at the event. We also have a brewer's dinner in the works with Tacoma Brewing that will incorporate molecular gastronomy."

Other newsworthy updates include Maxwell's spring menu releases that feature a mushroom and pesto gnocchi, harissa-marinated rack of lamb and an egg and toast appetizer. It's also begun a new lounge fare menu, with items always less than $6. When the Broadway Farmers Market season begins May 1, Thursday evening specials will reflect über fresh produce finds from Slater's visits down the hill at the market.

Side effects of reading this piece may include drooling and daydreams of sliders dancing about. Needless to say, I don't think this is the last we will see of Chef Hudson Slater, even if you choose not to take the time to dine at Maxwell's. So where will Chef Slater show up next? Wherever it is, it's sure to be delectable.

MAXWELL'S RESTAURANT & LOUNGE, 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday, 454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.683.4115

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