Restaurateur Ethan Stowell Dishes on Fatherhood

From making breakfast to 'Dad's Day' adventures, here's how this busy dad connects with his kids

Editor's Note: Angela Stowell is CFO and partner at Ethan Stowell Restaurants in Seattle, which encompasses 12 restaurants including Tavolàta and How to Cook a Wolf. Angela also helped found Eat Run Hope, an annual 5K and culinary event that benefits the Fetal Health Foundation. Angela and Ethan have two young sons. 

Photo: Ethan Stowell and sons

My husband, Ethan Stowell, has accomplished a lot of things. He opened his first restaurant, Union, to national acclaim when he was 28 years old. He’s grown to become a respected entrepreneur and is well-known for the generous amount of time he gives back to the community. He’s lost more than 50 pounds in the past year, does all of our family’s laundry (because I am terrible at it) and makes breakfast for our sons, Adrian and Franklin, every morning. Major husband brag, right here! In honor of Father’s Day, I decided to get the scoop on what being a dad means to this accomplished guy. 

What is your favorite thing about being a dad?

I guess it would be the unconditional love I have for the kids and the look that they give when they see me for the first time in the morning or when I come home from work. There are few feelings better than feeling like your kids really love you. 

What is your favorite food to cook with or for Adrian and Franklin?

My favorite time of day is first thing in the morning. As you know, I’m the one who gets up with the kids and gets breakfast going. It’s been fun to get them involved in making breakfast. It’s great seeing Adrian be so excited about cracking eggs and mixing pancakes. So I guess my favorite things to cook with them and for them is breakfast food: pancakes, oatmeal, eggs. Adrian also started to help me make polenta, and pizza is always a fun one.  

What are your favorite activities with the kids?

Right now, I’m loving taking them to the Pacific Science Center. Frank’s love of dinosaurs is pretty awesome. I’m super excited about Adrian’s love of the Mariners. We’ve been to a few games this season, and it’s been awesome. Other than that, pretty much any activity that we do on “Dad’s Day.”

Talk more about Dad’s Day.

Dad’s Day consists of myself and a group of friends who happened to all have sons within three months — and in one case — three days of each other. Every Saturday morning, we take the kids out without the moms and go to the zoo, The Museum of Flight, the Science Center, Golden Gardens. It started when the kids were just over a year old, and I think has been really good for all of us. It’s nice to see how other dads handle their kids, and it has helped me feel more confident and connected as a dad. Plus, who doesn’t love to see six dads wrangling 10 kids who are 4 and younger?

And readers, please note that Dad’s Day was started by the dads, with no prodding from the moms. However, I can speak for all the moms when I say that we really love our kid-free Saturday mornings!

What is the hardest thing about being a dad?

The responsibility. I don’t shy away from it, but you’re always wondering if the decisions you make for them are the correct ones and how decisions you make in our own life will impact them. 

How do you balance being a busy restaurateur and a dad?

It’s really tough. There is a lot of pressure to work at night. I do the best I can to be present in the hours that my job allows. For our family, that means we spend time together over breakfast, and I get home for dinner on the nights that I can. I’d be sugarcoating it if I said that it was easy to be in the restaurant industry and have kids. Then again, I’m sure people with 9-to-5 jobs have their own set of work-life balance issues.  

What lessons do you hope Adrian and Franklin learn from you?

I’m really excited to teach them to cook and be self-sufficient behind the stove. I don’t think I want either of them to choose it as a profession, but I want them to appreciate and cook good food for themselves. 

Got any gift recommendations for dads who are into cooking and food?

I’m not a gadget guy, at all. All I want for Father’s Day is to hang out with the kids and cook some good food. I think instead of a gadget or cookbook, most dads probably want their wife to plan a date night. Hint, hint. 

Grossest dad moment to date?

Probably having baby barf in my mouth. Luckily, he was still breastfeeding, so it didn’t taste terrible. And there was the time that I took the boys to a charity golf tournament and Adrian decided to go poop on the seventh-hole green.

Any advice for new dads?

It gets easier. 

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