Twisted Cuban Café adds more dining flavor to Woodinville

  • Written by Shannon Michael, Features Writer

cuban 2850Photo by Shannon Michael. The Twisted Café becomes The Twisted Cuban Café in the evenings offering authentic Cuban cuisine Monday through Saturday. Owner Julio Ortiz, standing in front of his restaurant, is a native of Havana, Cuba. He serves up dishes he learned to make from his mother, Maria del Carmen. Northshore residents should feel lucky. Not only has the growth of the wine, brewery and distillery businesses in the area made for great day trip outings, the choices in dining are continuing to expand as restaurateurs realize people with diverse beverage palates also appreciate diverse cuisines.

The newest entry into the cuisine category is Cuban, offered by Twisted Cuban Café. The café, located at 12631 NE Woodinville Drive in Woodinville, operates as The Twisted Café, a classic deli by day until 4 p.m. that does offer Cuban sandwiches, but at 5 p.m. the menu switches to authentic Cuban food that is served until midnight Monday through Saturday.

Owner Julio Ortiz was born and raised in Havana, Cuba.  He came to the United States when he was 24 years old and started working in the restaurant industry in New York City. He has owned The Twisted Cafe since 2009. It was with the encouragement of his customers that he developed a dinner menu offering authentic Cuban food. Since opening up the deli to dinner service in early July, Ortiz said business has been steady.

"My regular customers during the day have become my customers in the evening," he said.

Cuban food has a flavorful blend of spices, but it is not spicy. Cuban recipes use spices, flavors and cooking techniques from several cultures including Spain, Africa and surrounding Caribbean Islands.

For Ortiz, each authentic Cuban dish is special because they are his mom’s recipes. Maria del Carmen gave her son the recipes and taught him how to make each dish before she passed away five years ago. Diners can enjoy Cuban favorites like tostones (fried plantains), maduros (sweet plantains), lechón asado (roast pork), Moro rice and more.

"The most popular dinner item we serve has to be the lechón asado," said Ortiz.

The menu also has vegetarian and gluten-free choices, said Ortiz. He quickly learned he needed to offer vegetarian choices when diners asked for them, even though the Cuban diet is meat-based.

"We like to work with our customers so our menu is very flexible. We want our customers to be happy," Ortiz explained.

The restaurant has an outdoor patio in front where diners can relax and enjoy a Cuban mojito, along with a full selection of spirits, wine and beer. The full menu is available on the café’s website:

The café also offers catering that can include pig roasts –the traditional Cuban feast. Ortiz says he can roast the pig on-site for a customer’s event or bring it already roasted and ready to serve.

Local detailer restores Air Force One

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman, Staff Writer

Detailer 81Courtesy Photo Craig MacKay, owner of Clean Planet Detailing in Woodinville, polishes the original Air Force One, the president’s plane.The original Air Force One jet plane stands outside the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Its blue and white paint is pristine.

Its aluminum gleams.

Inside the Air Force One — the plane used by the U.S. president — faux wood paneling and typewriters take visitors back to the era of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

But keeping a 60-year-old plane in good condition is no small task, especially in Seattle’s inclement weather. So a team of the top detailers in the country assemble every other year to clean and protect the $1 million airplane.

Craig MacKay, owner of Clean Planet Detailing in Woodinville, was one of the detailers selected for the task. Air Force One’s history and its size make it different from the cars and boats he normally details in his shop, he said.

"The biggest difference is just the scope, how big it is," he said. "Also, the fact that you’re dealing with a relic, an antique."

The detailers have to be especially careful since they can’t buy a replacement part if they damage something.

To surmount the challenge of the plane’s height, the detailers hover over it, suspended by harnesses, to polish and clean the top.

Too much cleaning could damage the plane, which still has its original paint and aluminum. So MacKay said he and the other detailers "take a really deft touch with our polishers" and apply protective coatings to the plane.

Renny Doyle, a master detailer who’s worked on rare automobiles and celebrities’ jets, assembled the team of 33 detailers, all of whom he’s trained at his detailing school, Attention to Details.

"We need a blend of people that are capable with their tools and capable with their minds," Doyle explained. MacKay fills both those roles, and also mentors other, younger detailers, Doyle said.

Detailer 84Courtesy Photo. A team of 33 detailers spent a week cleaning and restoring Air Force One, which was used by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.MacKay trained with Doyle after he left his 30-year career as president of Woodinville Lumber to turn his detailing hobby into a business.

"I’d always had an interest in cars and keeping cars looking nice, but never to the point of a profession," MacKay said.

This is the first time he’s worked on Air Force One  — a job that took a week of long days for the detailing team, MacKay said.

"We met at 6:30 in the morning, were on the plane by 7:00, and were done by 7:00, so it’s been 11- to 12-hour days," he said.

He admitted the work can get tedious – for example, he estimates he spent at least 60 hours polishing the aluminum on the underside of the plane.

"Your arms get so sore, literally holding the thing for hours on end," he said. "But it’s a labor of love."

The plane will continue to need touch-ups as long as it’s exposed to the elements. MacKay said the detailers’ goal is to extend its life until someday it can be stored indoors.

"It’s mostly not making it look perfect, because it’s a 60-year-old plane," he explained. "Mostly it’s about preserving it."


Comments or news tips? Contact Briana Gerdeman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Free Savvy Gardener Class — ‘Grow Your Own Food Forest’

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

The fall Savvy Gardener class series has begun. The next class being held at Woodinville Water District is, "Grow Your Own Food Forest." This class will be taught by Kimberly Leeper and Jaqueline Cramer, landscape professionals and permaculture designers/educators.

You will learn how to incorporate fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs and much more by mimicking a forest. This will take you beyond planting annuals to incorporating trees, shrubs and perennials that bear fruit year after year.

The class will cover key concepts, design and site preparation steps and examples of plants to create your own food forest.

The class will be held from 10-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 14, at Woodinville Water District’s public meeting room located in Building A at 17238 NE Woodinville-Duvall Road, Woodinville.

Attendance is free, but pre-registration is necessary due to space limitations. 

You can register at or call Woodinville Water District’s Public Information Office at (425) 487-4102.  This class is one of 13 being offered this fall in King County that are sponsored by the Saving Water Partnership and Cascade Water Alliance.  You can see a listing of all the classes on the web at  Click on the Fall Leaves graphic. 

If you do not have access to the Internet and would like more information, please call Debbie Rannfeldt at Woodinville Water District at (425) 487-4102. You can also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Bothell’s Senior Day brings together old and new

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Something old, something new.

You’ll find both along Main Street on September 10th, from 10 a.m.  to 2 p.m., at Bothell’s fourth annual Senior Day. Brought to you by the Northshore Senior Center and Greater Bothell Chamber of Commerce’s Senior Resource Committee, this exciting event features interactive vendor booths, Shopping BINGO, live music and more! 

The event also showcases glimpses into Bothell’s past, thanks to photos and walking tours from the Bothell Historical Society, and a look at Bothell’s future, as city representatives show plans and renderings of the soon-to-be-remodeled downtown area.

Senior Day kicks off at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Main Street and 101st Avenue (a.k.a. Festival Street.) This is a drop-in or stay-the-whole-time event for all generations. Shop at the stores on Main Street, dine at the downtown restaurants and enjoy a day with family and friends. There will be give-a-ways, prizes, discounts, live entertainment and more.

Artists (age 55 and older) will also be competing in the first art competition. Contact the Bothell Chamber to find out how to submit your artwork, or simply come to Senior Day on September 10 to cast your vote for your favorite piece.In addition to free parking, a shuttle service will run from the Northshore Senior Center to and from downtown Bothell throughout the day. Senior Day is sponsored by EvergreenHealth. The entire day is devoted to honoring the seniors who have built our community into what it is today.

For more information, call the Bothell Chamber at (425) 485-4353 or visit

Local resident to launch academic life coaching program for teens

  • Written by Shannon Michael Features Writer

There’s the famous saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." As adults we can look back on our own childhood and think of special adults who weren’t related to us who had a positive influence on who we are today — coaches, teachers, church leaders and youth leaders.

They were there for us when we needed to talk, learn valuable life lessons, and to mentor us each in their own unique way.

Mentoring youth is what Bothell resident Michael Pizzo has devoted his life to for over 30 years.

Pizzo has been a youth pastor, is a well-known and respected tennis coach, and has worked in local high school and junior high classrooms for years. Now, he has combined his behavioral science degree and experience working with teenagers with a rigorous training program to become the first certified Academic Life Coach for teens in the Northshore area. 

Academic Life Coaching (ALC) is a one-on-one program designed specifically for teens. The 10-session course covers 32 concepts ranging from academic skills, stress management, organization, leadership, motivation and communication to the college application process.

"I was drawn to ALC for a couple of reasons. First, the word ‘Coach.’ Since I have devoted a large part of my life to coaching sports, I was intrigued. Another reason was the opportunity to work with teens," said Pizzo.

The purpose of ALC is to equip teenagers with the tools they will need to succeed now and in the future. The training focuses on empathy, leadership, communication, organization and other key emotional intelligence and life coaching skills, according to ALC’s website

John A. Williams, a Portland, Ore. resident and former high school Latin teacher, founded ALC in 2005. Since then, he’s trained and certified over 100 people from all over the world to become Academic Life Coaches, including Pizzo.

The International Coaches Federation (ICF) officially approved ALC in October 2012 as the first coaching program specifically focused for teens. "It was a year-long process to get approval by them," Williams said.

Williams’ program has garnered national attention, having been featured by such news outlets as The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, CNN Money and Newsweek.

A recent survey done by Williams determined the three problems that students and parents identify as the biggest and most common during the high school years are:

1) Stress about grades. If they are too low, the stress is how to get them higher. If they are high, the stress is usually about all the hard work that it took to keep them there; 2) Frustration about the quality of the relationship they have with their child; 3) Anxiety about the college application process and paying for college; and 4) Worrying if their child has all the life skills they need to be successful in the world.

For Pizzo, the training involved six months of phone meeting sessions with other Life Coaches around the country. "One of the greatest components of ALC training was practicing what we were learning with other coaches," explained Pizzo.

"One of the biggest strengths Michael brings in his coaching is his level of empathy and pure heart to the teens I’ve heard him mentor as a coach," said Williams.

Pizzo is enthusiastic about the positive benefits the ALC program will have, not only for the individual teens he will mentor, but also for the parents and the teen’s school.

"Teenagers work on how to improve essential skills that will lead to success in and out of the classroom. Parents and schools get the benefit of teenagers who are now more confident, competent and motivated," Pizzo explained.

He added, "One of the many factors that parents can expect from using this 10-session program is a more confident and motivated student. Our program builds from the inside out. When students finish this program they have a very positive perspective about life. This healthy perspective overflows into all areas of their life."

Pizzo meets with prospective teen clients and their parents first to see if the ALC program will be a good fit. Then, he works with the families to set up meeting times that work for well for the teen’s busy academic schedule.

Success, said Pizzo, will be measured by the results in the classroom and in the home. "Each student who participates in this program and applies themselves to the skills learned will be a successful student and adult," he said.

"I have had the opportunity to mentor and coach many students over the years. In all of these encounters that I have had, my goal has always been to encourage each student and to create positive change," he explained.

Parents interested in enrolling their teen in the Academic Life Coaching program can contact Michael Pizzo by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone (206) 817-6395.