The Fat Hen


Behind the counter at The Fat Hen you find Linnea, pale and smiling, blonde. She is a daughter of Ballard, Nordic on both sides, and grew up in a house perched high above the neighborhood’s Golden Gardens beach. Her father built the first and most successful company to ship freight to the desperate miners and fishermen far from home in Alaska’s furthest outposts. Linnea and her siblings grew up with Ballard in their blood. Boats and fish, baked goods and rubber boots.

After stints in New York and South America, Linnea found herself studying pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. And this is where she met Massimo. Tall, strikingly handsome, Italian. Older, with a military career already under his belt, Massimo had come to Paris to cook. He spoke little English, and Linnea no Italian, so French was their lingua franca. They were misunderstood by most around them, and they took their time finding their own language.

A few years later, living in a little house in Ballard with their two young boys, Linnea and Massimo opened the Fat Hen. Truly a neighborhood gem, unfailingly tasteful, simple and almost always perfect. The space is bright, opening to the South to maximize Seattle’s shy sun, and white-washed inside. Linnea’s pastries, Scandinavian with new world grains and grist fill the case in front, while Massimo finishes perfectly simple tomato sauces and oven-kissed potatoes in the tiny kitchen in back.

The Fat Hen is worth waiting for, and there is nearly always some waiting to do. The ham and swiss croissants and kouign amanns from Honorée Bakery across the street make for a pleasant pause.