Most Influential

Most Influential, Hospitality: Brady Williams

Chef, entrepreneur

By Chris S. Nishiwaki January 29, 2024

Brady Williams

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

For all of its culinary reputation, no Seattle restaurant has earned a Michelin star, regarded as the highest praise in the culinary world. This is because the Michelin Guide, responsible for awarding these stars, does not include Seattle in its current scope.

In the last year, Brady Williams has brought notable and accomplished chefs and restaurateurs from out of town that have earned Michelin stars, in some cases multiple stars, including Jeremiah Stone and Fabián von Hauske Valtierra of Contra, Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood, Carlo Mirarchi of Blanca, as well as Andres Giraldo Florez of Snail Bar, Nate Ready, formerly of The French Laundry and currently at Hiyu Wine Farm, Jay Blackinton of Houlme, Liz Johnson of Horses, pastry chef and consultant Matthew Tinder, Johnny Ortiz and Maida Branch of Shed, and celebrity chef Mei Lin of Daybird.

Beans and Tendons

Kyle Johnson

Ortiz, for example, drove from his New Mexico home and foraged ingredients for his residency at Tomo along the way.

“We bring in Johnny Ortiz who lives on the land of his ancestors, he forages everything himself,” Williams says. “The people who come to dinners like that, get it. The people who come to this know or trust us.”

The culinary world is paying attention. National and international media such as the Robb Report and Esquire have recognized Williams and his restaurant Tomo, in the unlikely fine-dining destination in a former adult video store in White Center, as one of its best new restaurants. But don’t use the words “Tomo” and “fine dining” in the same sentence.

“We’ve been hesitant to call it fine dining for what that conjures,” Williams says. “We are all about the food and the product, the wine, the service, the cocktails. Delivering that without the frills. In that sense, we are not a true fine-dining restaurant. That can be a polarizing expectation for some people.”

Williams moved around the country as a child, first as his parents were pursuing their careers and later as a teen, when he was playing ice hockey competitively, including a brief stint in Seattle.

The eight years he has been in Seattle now is the longest he has lived anywhere. After more than five years as the head chef at Seattle institution Canlis, Williams left to open Tomo, now in business for slightly more than two years.

Brady saucing

Ben Yan

He intends to stick around a lot longer. Michelin stars for Tomo be damned, he remains focused on delivering tasting menus as well as a la carte dishes inspired by cooking experiences from his grandmother’s Japanese heritage to his parents’ experience operating casual diners, to his 2 Michelin star experience at Brooklyn’s Blanca, to his experience at Canlis.

He also wants to raise his 1-year old daughter, Mina Tiger, with his life partner and managing partner at Tomo, Jessica Powers.

“The reason I stayed here was my time at Canlis,” Williams says. “The place became my home for the last six, seven years. And now I am striking out on my own with a thing that is uniquely me. Making Seattle home is a significant move for me. I’ve had two kids in two years: a restaurant and a sweet little girl.”

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