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Seattle mourns loss of two food and drink pioneers

caption: Rachel’s Ginger Beer Display
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Rachel’s Ginger Beer Display
Juan Pablo Chiquiza

Seattle’s food community lost two pioneers this past week: Ron Zimmerman, co-owner of Herbfarm, who put Seattle on the national scene, and Rachel Marshall, who introduced her love of ginger beer to the city.

The Herbfarm was already practicing farm-to-table cooking long before it became a popular dining concept. That’s because the property was a farm and sold herbs. It belonged to Zimmerman’s parents.

In 1986 Zimmerman and his wife, Carrie Van Dyck, took over the operation and started offering lunch as a way for customers to learn about herbs and ways to cook with them. Responding to demand, they added dinner. Over time Herbfarm earned national acclaim for its seasonal multicourse dinner.

The Seattle Times reported Ron Zimmerman died last Thursday. He was 75 years old.

Seattle’s love for ginger beer can be traced to Rachel Marshall, who created Rachel’s Ginger Beer in 2008. Marshall learned about ginger beer while living in Europe. After her return to Seattle, she started making her own, through trial and error.

Marshall built a following through word of mouth, through her bartender friends, and connections while selling at farmers markets.

But it wasn’t just her ginger beer that made Marshall stand out. Friends and former colleagues have remarked on her compassion and her ability to connect people together. Rachel Marshall died unexpectedly on Monday at age 42.

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