Chef Josef Jimenez di Jimenez, the jovial chef who co-owned Harvest Vine and Txori in Seattle before divorcing his wife (and business partner) Carolin Messier and moving to Thailand, has been back in Seattle for several weeks working on a couple of restaurant projects related to his native Spain.
First, he consulted with Portland-based restaurant purveyor Nicky USA to develop recipes for the newly imported Jamon Iberico. Jonathan Sundrstrom at Lark was so enthusiastic about the bone-in ham (from acorn-fed pigs) that Nicky USA is going to open a sales office just for the Seattle market, staffed by former chef Ben Childs.
Meanwhile, Chef Josef whispers that an unnamed international chain is planning a 300-seat restaurant in Seattle, to open in 2013. Iberico Tapas, with restaurants already operating in Chicago and Australia would be one possibility, but the big player looming on the horizon is from Spain itself, 100 Montaditos. Really inexpensive tapas ($2-$3), buck-fifty beers. So far, only two outlets on US soil, both in Miami, but the company has reported plans to roll out thousands of the little tapas bars globally within the next couple of years. The 100 Monditos concept is well-suited to Spain's late-night, light-eating culture, and the low prices don't hurt, either, in a wobbly economy.