New TV series ‘Washington Grown’ visits area farms, eateries

Sweet Frostings co-owner Judy Rozier, right, hands a salted caramel cupcake to “Washington Grown” host Kristi Gorenson. The episode featuring Sweet Frostings is set to air on Dec. 29 on Northwest Cable News. (Courtesy of North by Northwest)
Sweet Frostings co-owner Judy Rozier, right, hands a salted caramel cupcake to “Washington Grown” host Kristi Gorenson. The episode featuring Sweet Frostings is set to air on Dec. 29 on Northwest Cable News. (Courtesy of North by Northwest)

From Tim’s Cascade Potato Chips in Auburn to a dairy farm in Zillah – and about a dozen Spokane locations – a new Northwest Cable News series explores food production in Washington.

“Washington Grown,” produced by Spokane’s North by Northwest and developed by Washington agriculture groups, premiered Sunday. It aims to educate people about farming practices and connect consumers with farmers and other food producers.

“Nobody has a grandpa that’s a farmer anymore,” said Nelson Cox, first vice chairman of the Washington Potato Commission. The Warden potato grower spoke before a screening of two episodes of the new show at Spokane’s Magic Lantern Theatre last week.

Hosted by Spokane news anchor Kristi Gorenson, the series is “designed for Northwest foodies interested in locally grown food,” said David Tanner, president of North by Northwest and the show’s executive producer.

“It’s really all about food,” Tanner said. “It’s in the spirit of a Food Network show. It’s fun. It’s on-the-go.”

Filming started last spring.

Funded by Washington Farmers and Ranchers, a collaborative of agricultural groups, the show’s 13 episodes feature a different crop, recipe, restaurant and trivia.

Episodes run about 22 minutes and air at noon and 8:30 p.m. Sundays on NWCN (channel 23 in Spokane).

The first episode visits celebrity chef Tom Douglas in one of his Seattle restaurants, The Palace Kitchen, as he prepares his version of Greek-style roasted potatoes. It also documents a potato farm and potato chip production facility and includes an interview with Spokane dietitian Craig Hunt, who talks about potassium and other merits of potatoes. Hunt also appears in two other episodes.

Kara Rowe, director of public affairs and outreach for the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, declined to give a specific figure for the cost of the show, but said the series makes up 40 percent of the budget for an awareness campaign that bears the same title.

The effort includes additional research, television messages, Web-based projects and other to-be-determined projects.

“The farmers and ranchers of our state have really stepped up to the plate to better educate people about the food they eat, and this is one project that will help make the food-farm connection,” Rowe said.

The Washington Potato Commission is committed to giving $250,000 a year for five years to the effort. Washington grain growers are putting in a similar amount, Rowe said.

Funding partners include the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, Washington State Seed Potato Commission, Washington Grain Commission, Washington Wheat Foundation and Washington’s Friends of Farms and Forests.

Viewers can spot Spokane in several episodes.

Dry Fly Distilling and Waddell’s Pub and Grill are featured in episode five, slated to air Nov. 3. Episode six, scheduled for Nov. 10, features Dick’s Hamburgers, and episode seven, set for Nov. 17, includes Cyrus O’Leary’s Pies.

On Dec. 1, episode nine features Hal Johnson’s family farm in Davenport as well as Spokane’s Second Harvest, which distributes food to a network of 250 food banks throughout Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Episode eight on Dec. 8 visits South Perry Pizza.

Episode 12 on Dec. 22 spotlights Future Farmers of America at the Spokane fairgrounds. And the final show on Dec. 29 visits Sweet Frostings cupcake bakery in downtown Spokane.

A second season is in the works.

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