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Too Many Cooks

Archive for May 2012

Chipotle opens Wednesday, June 6

Food with integrity?

That is what national chain Chipotle Mexican Grill says will be on the menu at the new Spokane location when it opens Wednesday, June 6.

So, what does that mean? Chipotle is one of the few fast-food chain restaurants committed to buying naturally raised meat, along with local, sustainable produce. That means burritos, tacos, burrito bowls and salads customers can feel better about eating (if they care how animals are raised for food and where their produce is grown.)

According to the company's new release, Chipotle served more naturally raised meat and local produce than any other restaurant company in the country - more than 100 million pounds in 2011. The company only serves cheese and sour cream made from milk from cows that are not treated with synthetic recombinant bovine growth hormone. Also, an increasing percentage of dairy served at Chipotle is made from milk that comes from cows that have access to pasture, according to the news release.

“We want to change the way people think about food, which is why we are committed to making great-tasing food from premium quality ingredients available and affordable for everyone,” Chipotle's director of public relations Chris Arnold said in a news release.

The Spokane restaurant is located at 930 N. Division St. It will be open Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. starting next Wednesday.

Chipotle will be in what used to be a Hollywood Video location on the southeast corner of North Division Street and East Cataldo Avenue. The chain uses similar materials in the construction of each of its restaurants, but starts with existing buildings when possible. The restaurants have a similar look, but no two are alike.

Founded by Steve Ells, Chipotle opened a single restaurant in 1993 and now operates more than 1,100 restaurants. There's more information at Chipotle.com.

I've never eaten at a Chipotle, but I'm looking forward to checking it out. How about you?

Thursday Night Throwdown tonight at Indaba

Latte lovers: Drop what you're doing tonight and head to Indaba Coffee, 1425 W. Broadway Ave., for the second Thursday Night Throwdown Inland Northwest.
 
Thursday Night Throwdown is a friendly competition to see who can make the best latte art - whether you're a home barista or a coffee professional. The events started as an informal way for coffee pros to show what they were doing in their own shops and cafes, but has grown into a phenomenon in cities across the country.
 
TNTINW was started by Aaron Monheim and Bobby Enslow of Indaba Coffee in West Central Spokane. Baratza, Equator Coffees and Teas, DOMA Coffee Roasting Company and Victrola Coffee have also helped contribute to TNT, making it possible to host the event through sponsorships.
 
Spokane's Keaton Violet, of Madeleine's Cafe and Patisserie in downtown Spokane, won last month's head-to-head competition. He'll defend the title tonight.
 
“It is judged by the people who show up,” said Monheim. “It's really by a show of hands.”
 
He said they didn't publicize the first TNTINW. “It was supposed to be a dry run,” he said. But more than 35 people showed up for the event and 16 people competed.
 
They hope to have 24 people compete tonight. Qualifying rounds begin at 7 p.m. and the throwdown begins at 7:30 p.m. They'll also have an Aeropress competition tonight.
 
Monheim, who recently moved to Spokane, said he went to a Thursday Night Throwdown event in Seattle and thought it would be a great way to expand the coffee culture in Spokane.
 
They're planning the next TNTINW at the Doma Coffee headquarters in Post Falls. In July, it will be at Evans Brothers Coffee in Sandpoint and at Barracuda Coffee in the Tri-Cities in August.

There are more details about this at tntinw.wordpress.com or reach Monheim, who is the director of coffee education at Indaba Coffee, aaron@indabacoffee.com.

Trusting your gut

In journalism school, you learn quickly how dangerous it is to say someone is the “first” person to do anything.

The moment you think about putting something like that in print, those who have gone before emerge quickly. That's why I was skeptical that Adam Hegsted was going to be the first chef from this area to cook at the James Beard House in New York City. And despite being told that a couple of times during my reporting for the story in today's Food section, I was hesitant to write it.

I also didn't want to overlook an important detail.

So, I sent an email to the James Beard Foundation inqiring. The response:

“Thank you for checking in. I have checked our records, and chef Adam is indeed the first chef from the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene area to cook at the Beard House. He will also be the first chef from the state of Idaho to be featured here.”

Turns out, that's not true at all.

At least two other area chefs have been honored by the James Beard House.

Executive chef Rod Jessick, of the Coeur d'Alene Resort, cooked there in 1999 and received another invitation in 2003 or 2004.

Also, chef Brian Hutchins, who works at Stix in Spokane, cooked at the James Beard House in 2003.

Several other Idaho chefs were part of the events. Here's a partial list of those chefs. I'm still trying to track down the information: Keith Otter, Ketchum, Idaho; Scott Wamsley, Sun Valley Lodge; Barbara Barry, Ketchum, Idaho; Joyce Doughty and Kenny Rudolph, Ketchum, Idaho.

Today, when I forwarded messages from both Rod Jessick and Brian Hutchins to the James Beard Foundation, they wrote back: “Our apologies for the misinformation here. Our in-house archives are unfortunately not as accurate as they should be, and we are in the process of addressing this issue. Chef Jessick was indeed correct about the Idaho-based chefs he mentioned who have cooked at the Beard House. We were able to track down the event links to provide you with more information…”

“In addition to these events, we also hosted a “Taste of Idaho” dinner on 2/3/1998 with chefs Barbara Barry, Joyce Doughty, Keith Otter, and Scott Wamsley, however, this predates our electronic archives.”

The chefs who called and wrote were incredibly gracious about the mistake, but I still feel terrible for making it. I would hate for the oversight to minimize the work that it takes to get to the James Beard House.

Rod Jessick said in a email message: “It is a great honor to participate and a lot of work… I look back fondly on the memories of the event I participated in,” he said. “I intend to email Adam and wish him 'Good Cooking' at his event. Again, he is a very talented chef and will represent both the Coeur d’Alene Casino and the State of  Idaho well.”

Practice for James

Chef Adam Hegsted is practicing for his upcoming dinner at the James Beard House in New York City.

Hegsted, who is the executive chef at the Coeur d'Alene Resort and Casino, and a team of chefs and servers presented the meal he's planning to make for the venerable venue at the resort last night.

Inspired by the food of this area, Hegsted's dinner opened with an appetizer plate featuring “Idaho Sushi,” a small roasted potato topped with Waygu beef “sashimi”. There was also roasted quail with a rhubarb barbecue sauce and cold smoked Columbia River sturgeon.

He also served a dish of morel mushrooms buried in edible forest floor along with fiddlehead ferns, among the courses.

There were dry aged lamb chops with potato gnocchi, served with nettle pesto, an Inland Northwest cheese plate and an array of berries - serviceberries, huckleberries and elderberries - with a wild rose whipped cream.

And I'm going to tell you all about the meal and Hegsted's plans for the June dinner at the Beard House in an upcoming feature story for The Spokesman-Review food page. Stay tuned.

Spring Release Weekend starts Friday

Spokane area wineries will host a weekend of wine tasting starting Friday at noon for the annual Mother's Day Spring Release Weekend.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, members of the Spokane Winery Association will offer samples of new wines, tastes of wines still in the barrel and food to complement the offereings.

This year's event has new hours. The wineries will be open noon to 6 p.m. each day.

Spring traditionally marks the end of winemaking season and represents the beginning of a new wine year. Tasting fees may apply. Download a map at www.spokanewineries.net or click on the document below for details on participating wineries and their locations.


Documents:

Gourmet dorm eats

My former colleague Jamie Neely, who is now an assistant journalism professor at Eastern Washington University, sent along some links to some videos her students have been producing for the student newspaper.

“Dorm Gourmet,”  she said, is an “authentic student perspective on dorm cooking, and our students are having a riot producing them. Perhaps even a sophisticated foodie like you would get a kick out of them, too.”

I did. And I can't resist sharing them here.

They are clever and a little goofy at times. I love the unflinching look at what is really being eaten in Eastern Washington University dorms punctuated by trendy descriptions. Notice how few pots and pans there are to wash.

My favorite scene? When cook Josh Friesen can't find any place to drain the bacon, so he just dumps it all right into the dish.

Friesen tackles some complex dishes in the videos which feature Tuna Ramen Casserole, Easy Cheesy Beef and Bean Burritos, Chili Mac with Bacon and Bag Omelets. (And by complex, I mean there is more than one can and/or bag to open).

Here is the link to the Easterner and the Dorm Gourmet videos.

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We never really believed that old cliché anyway. We're collaborating to share our cooking inspirations, favorite recipes, restaurant finds and other musings from the local food world and beyond.

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Adriana Janovich writes for and edits the Wednesday food section.

Carolyn Lamberson Features Editor for The Spokesman-Review. She's a foodie who has no time to cook. Still, a girl can dream ...

Ruth Reynolds is a copy editor at the SR. "I would bake and cook more than I do if I didn't have to keep cleaning off my kitchen counters. My favorite kitchen appliance is my rice cooker. No. My immersion blender."

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