The Roaming Radish brings local, organic foods to Freeland

Posted in Culinary, Feature

Whidbey Life Magazine contributor

The Roaming Radish is sprouting up this month on Main Street in Freeland.

Chef Jess Dowdell will open the take-out restaurant and catering company in the heart of Freeland (just across from Payless Food Store) on Tuesday, Oct. 9. A grand opening is planned for later this month.

Chef Jess Dowdell gets ready for the opening of the Roaming Radish, her new place for take-out, catering and cooking classes in Freeland.

Dowdell’s menus are designed around the availability of quality ingredients, with an emphasis on local, organic and sustainable whole foods.

“I grew up on a farm. I have a deep respect for farm food,” Dowdell said.

Her food is also driven by the growing seasons and by what’s fresh and available.

“We’re really cooking with the season,” she added.

A strong commitment to these standards, plus her natural flair for healthy and unique culinary fare, is the quality in food that Dowdell strives to bring to the community. In short, her food is all about showcasing the best products local farmers have to offer.

“We love a lot of ethnic foods, but I would call my style ‘fusion’ because we always work with Pacific Northwest flavors. We’re always working with local farmers.”

Since the age of 14, Dowdell has worked in every aspect of the restaurant industry from coast to coast. But the seed for her culinary training was planted even earlier.

“My formal background is in my grandmother’s and my mother’s kitchen,” she said.

Although she didn’t attend a formal school, Dowdell was lucky enough to have studied the culinary arts with chefs around the country, and even around the world as she traveled. On Whidbey, she has delighted the palates of hard working writers at Hedgebrook, where she was the executive chef for five years. She was also the chef a ca’buni (Cafe in the Woods) at Mukilteo Roasters in Langley. Her passion for the culinary arts, and her commitment to local and sustainable food sources, have earned Dowdell a reputation locally and regionally.

The Roaming Radish will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner for take-out and will have a variety of picnic foods along with “smash sandwiches,” and an assortment of ever changing entrées.

Cooking classes are also on the menu. Dowdell said the Roaming Radish will host two or three classes a month taught by guest chefs.

“We want to teach people – encourage people – to play with food,” she said.

With the help of her husband, J. P. Dowdell,  she has transformed the space into an inviting new eatery with café-style tables and displays for the take-out food. Fall colors on the walls bring warmth and make for a cozy atmosphere.

Next year, Dowdell plans on growing some food – especially radishes –  in a garden behind the store and have a patio for people to dine.

Keep an eye on Whidbey Life Magazine regarding the grand opening of the Roaming Radish at the end of this month. Check out a recent blog post at Duff ‘n Stuff  featuring Chef Jess and some of the women producers on Whidbey Island.

The Roaming Radish is located at 1954 Main St. The restaurant will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Please inquire about off-site catering.

For more information, go to or call 360-331-5939.

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