Ingredients for Career Happiness: Ethan Stowell

Hannah Olson is an Account Executive with United Way. She’s also a very active Emerging Leader and recently attended our Speaker Series with popular Seattle Chef Ethan Stowell. Here are her takeaways.


What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

Maybe a good book comes to mind, a trip, or even a gift card.

But according to Ethan Stowell, Executive Chef of Ethan Stowell Restaurants and United Way’s 2017 Campaign Co-Chair, the best gift he’s ever been given is the value of sitting down almost every evening and having a meal with family.

Ethan shared this with Emerging Leaders, who earlier this week, flocked to United Way to learn about his professional journey and his commitment to building a stronger community. He spoke about being an entrepreneur, what is means to “fail fast” in your career, and why he loves what he does.

Emerging Leaders were eager to hear about his success story, and Ethan kept it real. His journey to becoming a Chef-lebrity wasn’t straightforward. It wasn’t until he found himself in a restaurant kitchen in 1995, however, that he discovered his passion.

Ethan has held a deep appreciation for food for as long as he can remember. Growing up in a family of artists right here in King County, his family engrained in him the importance of enjoying good food together. This is what motivates him every day. While he loves cooking, it’s seeing people enjoy themselves around a table that drives him.

Taking the leap to follow – or find – what you love is intimidating, so Ethan shared a few pieces of advice:

  • Invest in yourself, your skillset and your interests
  • Do what you love and the success will come
  • Think about your end-goal

The end-goal for Ethan’s business is to help people have a better life, but he says now it’s also time to ask: “How do we make our community a better place?”

As Campaign Co-Chair for United Way of King County, alongside Angela Stowell, Ethan is dedicated to getting more young professionals involved in philanthropy to help make our community stronger. At the end of his talk, he challenged Emerging Leaders to donate to help build a community where people have homes, students graduate and families are financially stable.

Feeling up to the task? Giving to our local community can mean a huge impact. Just $20/week, for example, equals $1,000 in a year. That’s one person moving off the streets via the Streets to Home program. It also gets you invited to a party with the Stowells and Macklemore.

As I left, something Ethan said lingered on my mind. Emerging Leaders are career hungry, smart young professionals. But I often forget, or don’t make the time, to sit down and enjoy a meal with people I love. It’s such a simple way to slow down and appreciate life. It’s also a privilege I take for granted. Tonight, for example, thousands of our King County neighbors won’t have the option to even consider this simple pleasure.

That’s what fuels me though. When we rally together and give, our community can be a better place, with a couple new Ethan Stowell Restaurants to boot.

Check out the Emerging Leaders calendar and join us at our next event for young professionals. 

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