March 24, 2010 in Food

At One World, eat and pay what you want for a good cause

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Volunteer server David Jones dishes up a plate of organic food at One World Spokane on East Sprague Wednesday, March 17, 2010. All meals are served at the counter to control portion size and reduce waste. Patrons are asked to recycle left over food.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Map of this story's location

One World Spokane

1804 E. Sprague Ave.

(509) 270-1608

janice@oneworldspokane.com

Open for lunch Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner Thursday-Saturday, 5:30-8 p.m.

Follow the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter for updates on what is cooking and special meals and events.

One World Spokane is:

A) a soup kitchen.

B) in a scary neighborhood.

C) that wacky place that makes you pick how much you want and decide what to pay.

D) a local and organic restaurant.

In the year and a half since Janice and Keith Raschko opened their nonprofit restaurant on East Sprague Avenue, many notions about the café have emerged.

Yes, One World volunteers will serve a meal to anyone who comes in whether they have five cents or $50 to spend.

Yes, the neighborhood has been struggling to shed a no-longer-deserved reputation for being rough.

And yes, One World diners decide how much food they want on their plates and choose how much to pay.

But owners say some perceptions may unnecessarily keep people away from the tables at their progressive restaurant. They’re making some changes they hope will bring others in to share the local, organic foods served there.

“We want to make organic food available to everyone because in this country it is a far reach for some people,” says Janice Raschko.

“Eating here is affordable. It costs a fraction of what you would find in other places.”

Those who can’t pay for their meals can earn them by volunteering in the restaurant. The concept was inspired by a similar restaurant in Salt Lake City.

One might think that an economic downturn would send more people through the doors at One World Spokane, but Raschko says many are still hesitant to give it a try.

“Right now, the media has been tough on restaurants because in this economic crunch every time you hear about restaurants,” Raschko says.

“People are saying, ‘Don’t go out to eat. Eat at home to save money.’ So that has hurt us. It’s hurt every restaurant.

“But here, you can eat almost as inexpensively as you can eat at home. And unfortunately, the waste at home is more.”

Raschko recently introduced some suggested servings and prices for meals, after hearing from customers.

“I got feedback from people who said, ‘I just don’t quite know what to do when I come here,’ ” she says.

Now, diners are greeted with a question from the servers about what size plate they’d like. That way, people can honor their hunger and prevent food from going to waste, and still have an idea of how much to pay for their meal.

One World suggests paying $4 for a small lunch plate, $6 for a medium plate and $8 for a large serving of food. Then, the volunteers guide people through their food choices in the cafeteria-style line.

Those suggested prices are just meant to be guidelines, though Raschko says they are careful to avoid the “buffet mentality,” which encourages diners to eat more just to get their money’s worth.

One World chefs and volunteers whip up a daily menu based on the food they have available in the kitchen – which is often seasonal, sometimes donated and always organic.

Vegetarian and vegan items are always on the menu, which is posted on a chalkboard near the door and updated on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

While some may find they don’t like that kind of dining uncertainty, others love it.

“I think if you’re used to eating food that comes out of a box or your standard dining out fare is at one of the chain restaurants or fast food you might not like One World,” says Crystal Clark, organizer of Spokane Vegans, a social group for vegan eaters.

“I think this kind of dining experience is intimidating to people, but I also think some of the fun of dining at a place like One World is the surprise. You don’t know what you’re going to get.”

Clark says the open kitchen and knowledgeable volunteers make it easy to ask questions about the ingredients that went into each dish. That’s helpful for people like her who are careful to eat vegan, but also appeals to those who have food allergies or are conscious of heart health or calories.

“The food reminds me of a really great home-cooked meal because they really try to use ingredients that are in season,” Clark says.

“It reminds me of how I cook – I take a look at what I have in the fridge and then I try to make something using those ingredients.”

She recommends volunteering at the café or dining with a friend for those who are uncertain if they would like One World.

For anyone who is trying to move away from processed, packaged foods, eating at One World is a great way to take a peek at a different way of cooking.

Chef Virlinda Severance is a graduate of the Inland Northwest Culinary Academy at Spokane Community College. She’s known for innovating in the kitchen and she’s quick to share recommendations or cooking ideas for those who ask.

Under her guidance, the restaurant offers a variety of pizzas on Thursday evenings and tapas on Friday nights.

Severance leads the efforts for special meals, which have recently included a St. Patrick’s Day-themed lunch and a white tablecloth, seven-course Valentine’s dinner. She’s also heads the catering service at One World.

One World also invites local chefs to come cook for an evening with its “guest chef” events. The café offers free Wi-Fi and hopes to someday be able to add breakfast to the offerings.

When spring brings rhubarb into the kitchen, Severance won’t just turn it into pies, she’ll make a rhubarb sauce for pork, top trout with it, stir it into soups and add it into the cookies.

One World has an organic garden where seasonal produce is grown, and the café works with local farmers and producers to buy organic or “responsibly grown” foods.

Food waste from the restaurant is composted for the garden. And an overabundance of anything (which can happen when the summer garden produce is ripening) is donated to the food pantry at the East Central Community Center.

Severance says the restaurant strives for consistency in the food it serves: “It has to be good quality out there every single day.”

Raschko is committed to that, too.

“It’s easy to cut corners, especially when money, money, money is a concern,” she says. “We don’t do it. We don’t. We’ve stayed true to the roots. At least we’ve tried to.”

She believes that places like One World can help repair the relationship most people have with food, encourage healthier lifestyles and help eliminate waste and hunger in the community.

“We want people to respect and know where the food came from, how it was grown and prepared by chefs and in turn we don’t want to just give it to anyone. We want them to give something to us,” she says.

“And if they have no money that’s fine … they may only have no money right now, it doesn’t mean they’ll never have any money. We just want them to contribute and we do that through the volunteer program.”

Raschko is hopeful that efforts to reach out with social media, special events and personal invitations will bring more people to One World to see what it is like, and help people set aside any concerns they have about the restaurant.

“But we’re not going to change the perception until people come down and realize that it’s not such a scary place,” she says.

Balsamic Marinated Vegetables

From the One World Spokane Organic Cookbook. Most of the recipes don’t include measurements and are meant to encourage cooks to experiment in the kitchen. Books can be purchased at the restaurant.

Balsamic vinegar

Dijon mustard

Garlic

Thyme, oregano, dill and/or marjoram

Olive oil

Broccoli, cut into small florets

Cauliflower, cut into small florets

Red onion, diced small

Basil, chiffonade

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, garlic and herbs to taste. While whisking, add olive oil in a thin stream, 2 parts oil for each 1 part of vinegar.

Combine vegetables and basil and toss with marinade, adding salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate overnight, giving the veggies a shake when you think about it.

This could make a wonderful appetizer if minced and put into hollowed-out small tomatoes or Roma halves. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and shaved asiago or romano cheese.

Yield: Varies

Pumpkin Seed Crusted Chicken

From the One World Spokane Organic Cookbook. Most of the recipes don’t include measurements and are meant to encourage cooks to experiment in the kitchen. Books can be purchased at the restaurant.

Chicken breast

Red onion

Bell pepper

Olive oil

Garlic

Chili powder

Cumin

Salt

Black pepper

Lime juice

Avocado

Cube chicken and medium dice onion and bell pepper. Combine and toss with oil, garlic and seasonings. Pulse pumpkin seeds in a food processor or grind with a mortar and pestle. Toss onto chicken and then bake in oil casserole pan at 375 degrees until golden.

Serve over rice with avocado and lime juice squeezed all over it.

Yield: Varies

Pizza Dough

From One World Spokane Organic Cookbook. Books can be purchased at the restaurant.

4 cups water

1 teaspoon sugar or other sweetener

1 tablespoon yeast

2 cups whole wheat bread or pastry flour

2 cups unbleached white bread flour (see note)

4 tablespoons finely minced garlic

3 tablespoons Italian herbs (basil, oregano, etc.)

4 tablespoon finely grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan, Asiago, etc.

1 tablespoon salt

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Equal amounts of whole wheat bread flour and unbleached white bread flour (approximately 9 to 10 cups total, see note)

Dissolve the sugar in the water (the water should be no more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and add the yeast. Proof the yeast mixture and let the yeast start to bubble to the surface.

Whisk the first 4 cups of flour, garlic, herbs and cheese into the proofed yeast mixture. At this point, you can refrigerate the mixture overnight, covered and continue in the morning. If you want to leave the mixture overnight at room temperature, reserve the garlic for the next step.

Using a rubber spatula or dough scraper, incorporate the salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the remaining flour, about two cups at a time at first, and then more gradually, being careful to scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl after adding the flour. (You can do almost all your kneading of the dough in a large bowl, which will save you the mess of a sticky kneading surface.)

Continue until the dough is still sticky, but mostly holds its form. Turn it onto a cutting board or other surface and continue kneading until the dough is barely sticky.

Pour remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a large bowl and add the ball of dough, making sure it is completely covered with oil. Cover the dough and either let it rise overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature until it is doubled in size again.

Divide the dough into six equal pieces and knead each into a ball, adding some additional flour if the dough is too sticky. Let the dough rest about 15-20 minutes and then flatten each piece with your palm until it is about 5 to 6 inches in diameter.

Roll the dough out, starting in the middle and working toward the edges, rotating 60 to 90 degrees for each rolling out. Let the dough relax for a few minutes and then stretch it out to the edges of the pizza pans, if need be (use spray on a round pizza pan). The leftover dough can be either refrigerated or frozen.

Spread sauce and toppings on the pizza and bake at 450 degrees for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the pizza sit for a couple of minutes and then remove it from the pan.

One World toppings include some of the following, but are only limited by your imagination: Cabbage, beets, zucchini, pumpkin, mushrooms, apples, roasted tomatoes, eggplant, pesto, beet greens, olives, trout and apricots.

Note: If you use whole wheat pastry flour, increase the amount of white flour by 1/2 cup. Don’t forget to add the additional flour if you use whole wheat pastry flour.

Yield: 6 crusts

Everything Cookie

From One World Spokane Organic Cookbook.

2 pounds butter, softened

4 cups sugar

4 cups brown sugar

8 eggs

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

11/2 teaspoons baking soda

Salt, pinch

7 cups flour

10 cups rolled oats

6-8 cups “everything” (fresh or dried fruit, coconut, pumpkin, chocolate chips, zucchini, nuts, seeds, etc.)

Cream together butter and sugars. Mix in eggs until smooth. Add baking powder, soda and a pinch of salt. Mix.

Add half of the flour and oats. Mix. Add second half of oats and flour, and everything ingredients. The dough usually needs to be mixed by hand at this point.

Divide batter into three greased 9-by-11 inch cookie pans.

Bake at 350 degrees as needed until golden brown.

Note: This recipe can be made vegan. Substitute 8 tablespoons flax seed mixed with 12 tablespoons water for the eggs. Substitute 1 cup applesauce and 1 cup oil for the butter.

Yield: Three 9-by-11 inch pans cookies

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