Local ad agency competes on reality show ...


Seattle advertising agency Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener recently competed for a national account with Subway, the sandwich chain.

On TV.

The agency's work, filmed at WDCW's Los Angeles office, will appear on a "sneak peek" of episode one of AMC's new reality show The Pitch at 11 p.m. Easter Sunday, immediately after the hit series Mad Men. The eight-part series, featuring other agencies competing for other accounts, resumes on April 30 at 9 p.m. 

Dozens of agencies declined requests to be on the show, but for WDCW the decision seemed clear. “We ask our clients to take risks, and we told ourselves that we should take a risk. Why not?” said Tracy Wong, chairman and executive creative director, in a phone interview. Wong said the company has nothing to hide, so it had little to fear by being on the show.

Still, Wong saw a screening of the Subway episode and says he isn’t happy with AMC’s edits. He had hoped the show would portray WDCW’s “Democracy of Good Ideas” process, which emphasizes a creative process he designed to minimize egos and drama. “We are inclusive and somewhat consensus driven, which is different from most businesses and very different from most ad agencies,” he said. “It was captured well during the filming, but didn’t come out well in the edits.”

Wong thinks editors were looking for drama, and since his firm had relatively little, he said most of the show is devoted to McKinney, the North Carolina-based agency competing for the Subway account.

“What people will see in the show is not a lot of us,” Wong said.

Did WDCW win the competition?

“Not necessarily,” Wong said, quickly adding that he's actually not allowed to say.  

Dining: Home Cooking in Ballard

Dining: Home Cooking in Ballard

San Fermo strives for comfort Italian style.

Named for a 16th-century monastery 50 miles west of Venice, San Fermo in Ballard is probably the first new restaurant in a long time that wants to make its name in rustic, homey Italian food. 

Instead of focusing on the current trend of modern, interpretive Italian dishes, co-owners Tim Baker (Percy’s & Co.), Scott Shapiro (Melrose Market), and Wade Weigel and Jeff Ofelt (both of Bimbo’s Bitchin’ Burrito Kitchen, Cha Cha Lounge, King’s Hardware and Percy’s fame) have transformed the conjoined (and formerly pea green) historic Pioneer Houses on Ballard Avenue into an utterly charming, upscale pasta house. The 50-seat San Fermo, which abuts the Ballard Farmers Market on Sundays, is now a glossy white stunner with black accents and a similar indoor color scheme.

Executive chef Sam West (he also runs the kitchen at Percy’s a block away) and sous-chef Zach Wagar (formerly of Spinasse) offer solid, traditional entrées, such as rabbit cacciatore and osso buco, but you’ll want to go straight for their handmade pastas, which change daily. Delicate, ricotta-filled duck ravioli ($17) swim in traditional rosemary broth with shallots; weighty, wavy mafaldine carbonara ($16) is tossed with fatty guanciale (pork cheek), which puffs up to an irresistible crunch and, along with fresh egg, coats the wide, ribbon-like noodles beautifully.

The antipasti ($12) — an ever-changing medley of seasonal, marinated and pickled vegetables, fresh cheeses and inventive cured proteins — is also a sure thing, especially when paired with a bottle of rosé and enjoyed on one of the restaurant’s two killer outdoor patios. Central to the north patio and its neighboring ivy-covered brick wall is a sagging crabapple tree studded with beehive lanterns.

Spending warm nights there (and on the smaller south patio) listening to an eclectic range of music — from Billie Holiday to M. Ward to Creedence Clearwater Revival — while eating fresh, simple, approachable Italian food was among the highlights of my summer. Luckily, heaters and blankets will keep it going this fall.