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A&E >  Food

Chefs put trust in Rod

Do dinner parties make you nervous?

Imagine how Rod Jessick is feeling this week as he prepares to host more than 500 chefs for the Western Regional Conference for the American Culinary Federation.

Jessick, executive chef at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, is planning the menu for the conference, which begins Sunday and ends on Tuesday. The resort last hosted the conference in 2000.

“It’s our chance to showcase what we do,” Jessick said in a news release. “I’m always excited when we have the conference because of the networking which takes place. Every chef has a different take on how to do certain things. It helps you improve and it makes you think.”

Jessick – with help from a staff of 25 – plans to feature kurobuta pork osso buco and chicken-lobster Wellington paired with filet mignon. They’ll also host a sustainable, organic and artisinal brunch and include an “All-Idaho” station at the opening night’s welcome reception buffet. That will include: Idaho baked potatoes with butter, sour cream and chives; Idaho Potato Martinis with three-cheese Idaho mashed potatoes topped with a chef’s topping and a miniature Idaho baked potato; Idaho Wild Rice Golden Jewel Salad, and Snake River Farms Kobe Beef Sliders with fried buttermilk sweet onions.

Chefs at the conference will be talking about the latest in food trends and techniques and balancing a passion for work with a healthy lifestyle.

The keynote speaker is Gregg Patterson, general manager of The Beach Club in Santa Monica, Calif. Other chefs presenting include Tom Douglas, of Tom Douglas Restaurants in Seattle (Lola, Palace Kitchen, Dahlia Lounge, Etta’s…), Chef Ian Wingate of Moxie in Spokane and Bob McDaniel, executive chef of the Club at Black Rock in Coeur d’Alene.

Baseball buns

Seattle Mariners fans will be eating Eastern Washington-grown wheat at this year’s baseball games. Hamburger buns made from Shepherd’s Grain wheat are now served at Kidd Valley restaurants in Seattle, including outlets at Safeco Field, Qwest Stadium and Husky Stadium.

Fourteen farmers are now growing a hard, red spring variety of wheat for Shepherd’s Grain which is unusual in this area. Most of the wheat grown on the Palouse and in the region is a soft, white variety and about 90 percent of it is exported. The white wheat’s low gluten content makes it better suited for flat breads, pastries, cakes, crackers and noodles than bread and buns.

“Little by little we’re getting our wheat out there,” said Fred Fleming, one of the farmers growing the hard, red spring wheat. “Serving at baseball games is a homerun for us.”

The small grain group has their wheat milled by Centennial Mills in Spokane, then baked into breads by local Hearthbread Bakehouse. Shepherd’s Grain hopes to expand sales by marketing its story of offering diners a food that can be traced to its roots and is grown by environmentally sustainable methods including no-till fieldwork.

The grain may be used by Zip’s Restaurants in Spokane after a thorough test phase, Fleming said, and is already fed to students at Washington State University’s cafeterias and vendors.

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