Founders Room

Seasonal Themes

With each visit to The Herbfarm, you’ll delight in unique menus showcasing the exceptional foods and wines of the Pacific Northwest. Each 9-course dinner, served with 6 matched wines, draws its inspiration from the rhythms of the seasons. LEARN MORE

Slideshow

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Ron & Carrie

the Herbal kitchen

Drawing on his years as a chef cooking with fresh herbs at The Herbfarm, Jerry Traunfeld offers a whole new set of innovative dishes for you to make at home. Jerry’s emphasis is on ease, spontaneity, and the irreplaceable flavors of fresh herbs.
MORE ABOUT THE BOOK

How a Few Chives Grew into The Herbfarm Restaurant.

Once some time ago, Bill and Lola Zimmerman purchased a farm outside of rural Fall City, about 30 miles east of Seattle.

Lola Zimmerman

Lola Zimmerman in the nursery at The Herbfarm in Fall City.

In 1974, Lola found herself with some extra chives. One day, she put them along the road and posted a little sign, “Herb Plants for Sale.” People stopped to buy them. In the following years, Lola grew extra herbs on purpose. Bill built some greenhouses. The herbal nursery flowered.

A Restaurant in a Garage

In 1985, the Zimmermans’ son, Ron, sold his previous business. With Carrie Van Dyck, his wife and partner, he joined The Herbfarm in early 1986. That winter and spring they worked to remodel part of the farm’s home and garage into a little restaurant. The educational luncheon program serving a 6-course meal opened on May 25, 1986. Ron was the chef in those early years and Carrie was the host. The Herbfarm received excellent reviews. There was never an empty seat.

During September of 1996, The Herbfarm built an addition to the restaurant that housed a spacious new kitchen, an underground wine cellar, and much-needed new dining space.

Bill Zimmerman

Wine Cellar after the Fire of January 6, 1997.

Fire and Ashes

On Monday night, January 6, 1997, a fire ignited by an electrical short broke out around 8:30 in the evening. When the volunteer fire department arrived, there was no water in the fire hydrant.

Start All Over Again

The Herbfarm Restaurant and offices were a total loss that night. Months of planning and daily meetings consumed Ron and Carrie’s time. Ron and Carrie believed that the building permits were “just a few more weeks away.” Engineers, consultants, inspectors, and attorneys came and went. The months became a year.

Temporary Quarters

Bill Zimmerman

Herbfarm founder Bill Zimmerman with his famous chicken, Henny Penny in front of the original Herbfarm restaurant.

Ron and Carrie ran the restaurant for a while from a large tent they built on the farm, taking the dishes each night to another city to wash. Later they moved to temporary quarters inside of the Hedges Cellars winery in Issaquah, Washington.

For the next two years, the restaurant operated within the winery while work commenced on the new Herbfarm Restaurant, 20 miles from the original site. During this time, Bill and Lola raised fruit and vegetables for the restaurant. Bill became ill, but saw the new restaurant almost completed. He was buried near the farm in Fall City with a sprinkling of ashes from the fire.

On New Land

Bill Zimmerman

Autumn at The Herbfarm

On May 25, 2001—15 years to the day from the original opening—The Herbfarm Restaurant dedicated its new quarters. Four hard years had passed since the fire, but the key staff remained intact. The new building included pieces from the original farm.

Ron and Carrie transplanted fruit trees, berries, and specimen herbs to the new land. The farm tractor moved to acreage just down the valley. Here it broke the soil on a new beginning, continuing the relationship with the earth that Lola had loved and fostered in the years before.

Lola passed away in 2004. She was quietly pleased to have seen The Herbfarm grow from her pots of chives to a restaurant in a garage and finally to one of America’s most-celebrated dining events. Sometimes even a few chives can shape the future.