Who are we rooting for on "Top Chef Masters"? Why, Maria Hines, of course!

Not one, not two, but three fabulous local chefs will represent Seattle in the next round of Bravo's "Top Chef Masters": Thierry Rautureau of Rover's restaurant, Maria Hines of Tilth and Jerry Traunfeld of Poppy. And, apparently, Bravo's taste is as good as ours at PCC; this trio of chefs has taught for our PCC Cooks cooking school over the years as well.

While I'd be thrilled if any local chef won on a national stage, I have to say I hope it's James Beard Award winner Maria Hines, in part because her chosen charity for the $100,000 prize is the PCC Farmland Trust. She serves on the board of the independent, community supported, nonprofit land trust, which preserves organic farmland throughout the Northwest for future generations.

So far, the Trust has saved four farms totalling 549 acres; Orting Valley Farms in Pierce County is the latest. That $100,000 would be a huge step toward preserving even more farmland from development. That said, kudos to chefs Traunfeld and Rautureau, for pledging their potential wins to two other great organizations (as reported by Nancy Leson): the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission and Food Lifeline, respectively.

Catch all the action 11 p.m. Wednesday, April 7 on Bravo.

More about: agriculture, PCC Cooks, PCC Farmland Trust

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