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Chef Blaine Wetzel of Willows Inn on Lummi Island has just won the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year. (Image: KOMO News)

Willows Inn chef wins Rising Star Chef of the Year

Several months ago we brought you the list of nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards, the culinary industry's most prestigious recognition program. Washington and the Pacific Northwest were well represented, with multiple restaurants and chefs making the list.

However when the awards were announced last night, the only winner from the area was Chef Blaine Wetzel of Willows Inn in Lummi Island, WA.

Lummi Island is about a two hour drive and short ferry ride north of Seattle, and has been referenced by Travel + Leisure and Katie as one of the best 'secret vacation destinations.'

Chef Wetzel tied for Rising Star Chef of the Year with Chicago's Chef Jimmy Bannos Jr. Wetzel grew up in Washington, and is no stranger to recognition. Last year he was named Food & Wine Magazine's Best New Chef of 2012, and in 2011 The New York Times declared Willows Inn "One of the 10 Restaurants (the the world) Worth a Plane Ride.'

Check out the full list of James Beard Award winners.