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Farm Fresh: Chef Renee Erickson's Rustic Whidbey Island Wedding

The Couple: Renee Erickson, Seattle’s favorite chef (The Walrus and the Carpenter, The Whale Wins, plus three recently opened Capitol Hill spots, including Bar Melusine and Bateau) was strolling through the Ballard Farmer’s Market when she first spotted Dan “Oyster Man Dan” Crookston and said she had to find out who he was. Lest you’ve ever doubted the aphrodisiac properties of oysters, this story should put that debate to rest in a delicious, briny water bed.

The Setting: La Ferme des Anes (French for “The Donkey Farm”), the private 30-acre Whidbey Island spread raising the beef for Renee’s Bateau restaurant, set the scene for their rustic affair. With a backdrop of Mount Rainier and Puget Sound views, the couple exchanged vows beneath garlands of marigolds strung from a centerpiece of a fallen tree, while guests looked on from canvas-covered hay bale seats. An evening of celebrating included a barn dance under twinkling lights and passing Johnnie Walker Blue Label around the campfire.

The Food: The James Beard Award winner for Best Chef Northwest served multiple feedings from an “unfussy” menu of pizza by Orcas Island’s Hogstones Wood Oven, a whole spit-roasted pig, roasted wild Washington salmon, all washed down with lots of rosé and Rainier beer; and Lays potato chips (an obsession of Renee’s). Fourteen cakes from Coyle’s Bakeshop polished off the feast.

The Favors: In addition to jars of Renee’s famous pickles and handmade ceramic letters from local artist Jeffry Mitchell, each guest was given a “Renee & Danial” koozie upon boarding the bus to the farm, with a wink to Dan’s habit of always carrying a koozie in his back pocket.


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