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Four-day Chefs Week PNW is a festival for foodies

Business partners Jeremy Hansen, left, and Aaron Crumbaugh pose in the space of the old Washington Cracker Co. building that will house Inland Pacific Kitchen. Slated to open this summer, it's one of several of Hansen's new projects. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)
Business partners Jeremy Hansen, left, and Aaron Crumbaugh pose in the space of the old Washington Cracker Co. building that will house Inland Pacific Kitchen. Slated to open this summer, it's one of several of Hansen's new projects. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)

There’s a lot cooking at the old Washington Cracker Co. building.

And chef Jeremy Hansen – with help from business partner Aaron Crumbaugh – is stirring the pot.

Together, Hansen, 40, and Crumbaugh, 37, own the newly formed Tumbled Spruce Events company, which is organizing the first Chefs Week PNW next week at the one-time cracker factory.

Crumbaugh is also heading up the kitchen at the new Inland Pacific Catering, or IPC, that will operate out of a kitchen in the basement. IPC and IPK are owned by Hansen and his wife, Kate. IPK is Inland Pacific Kitchen, a small restaurant with a rotating menu that’s slated to open on the first floor in summer. Their new whiskey bar, Hogwash Whiskey Den, is slated to open in the building’s basement when the catering kitchen is up and running.

“It’s a huge year,” Hansen said.

Here’s a closer look at each of his projects.

Chefs Week PNW

This four-day, first-time food festival starts Wednesday and features cooking demonstrations, multi-course dinners, vendors and more in the first-floor event space. Most daytime activities – except for alcohol tasting, which requires a $10 wristband – are free. Wednesday is wine. Thursday is spirits. Friday is beer (see related story on this page).

Day sessions run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There are Q&A sessions with food producers, opportunities to meet chefs, and coffee-roasting, sous vide and butchering demonstrations. Wednesday is wagyu beef. (The plan is to break down an entire steer.) Thursday is ahi tuna. Friday is pork.

A six-course dinner for $70 – or $100 with wine pairings – takes place Wednesday through Friday nights. Cocktail hour with passed hors d’oeuvres runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. with a cash bar.

Saturday features a $40 all-you-can-eat brunch and $150 eight-course dinner, plus a cash bar and closing ceremonies and awards.

Reservations are required for the brunch and dinners, and seating is limited to the first 100 people. (For a complete schedule or to buy a ticket, visit www.chefsweekpnw.com.)

Created to honor regional food producers and restaurateurs, the festival also marks Tumbled Spruce Events’ debut.

“It’s about the camaraderie and the culture. It’s not about making money. It’s about giving back,” said Hansen. To that end, he and Crumbaugh said they’re not charging vendors to participate. Instead, “We’re celebrating them.”

Hansen and Crumbaugh plan to host four events per year, starting with Chefs Week PNW. Also under consideration are a beer fest in summer, wine fest in fall and spirits fest in winter.

“Our whole thing is promotion and collaboration,” said Crumbaugh, who used to sell meat to Hansen as a traveling wagyu beef salesman. “We want to open the eyes of Spokane to the bounty around us. There’s so many great products that are produced in the Inland Northwest.”

Originally from Michigan, Crumbaugh moved to Spokane from Chicago, where he had a food truck and catering company, to be closer to his wife’s family. She’s from Chewelah. The couple got engaged on-air during the season finale of the sixth season of the CBS reality competition show “The Amazing Race.” They wed in Spokane two years later.

Since then, Crumbaugh has worked as a chef at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago and Thompson River Ranch in northwest Montana. He’s also appeared twice on Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.”

Inland Pacific Catering

Hansen’s new catering kitchen is located in the basement directly beneath his new restaurant. The plan is to cater corporate events, private parties and weddings for up to 300 people. The target launch date is May 1. Menus, Hansen said, will be custom made.

Hogwash Whiskey Den

Take the side entrance on Pacific Avenue, head downstairs and find yourself in Hansen’s intimate new speakeasy-esque basement bar with low-slung ceilings and some 300 styles of whiskey.

The ambiance is dark, elegant and masculine, and the decor melds old with new: cabernet-colored leather couches, deep mahogany-lined walls and booths, and charcoal-colored PaperStone tabletops, made from pressed recycled paper. Bricked-over street-level windows and exposed masonry and pipes, including a water main tucked under a standing bar against a back wall, add to the ambiance. Most of the wood – some 65 percent, Crumbaugh said – is reclaimed.

Whiskey lockers, fashioned from vintage filing cabinets that date to the 1930s, will be available to rent. The focus, obviously, is on whiskey, but other spirits – vodka, gin – are available. Four rotating draft beers are on tap.

Food that pairs well with whiskey – burgers, whole fried chickens, steak, bacon – will be available once IPC is up and running. The plan is to keep most dishes at $20 or less.

Special orders for whole animals that serve approximately 10 people – turkey, lamb, suckling pigs – will also be available at market price, but Hansen will need a couple weeks’ notice.

Perhaps one of the best things about the new place is that it’s slated to remain open Monday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. – “no matter what,” Hansen said.

Inland Pacific Kitchen

The capacity is small – the restaurant seats 40 people, including eight at the bar on stools – but the feel is airy and open.

Hansen said he was drawn to the space because of its high ceilings, natural light from the large, original windows, and rustic feel of the exposed brick, beams and pipes. Like IPK, the other eateries he owns with his wife, Kate – Santé Restaurant and Charcuterie and Common Crumb Artisan Bakery – are also located in older downtown Spokane buildings.

“I think there’s more character and history,” said Hansen, who’s planning to host private dinners in the space in July and officially open in August.

Renovations started in early January. Plans call for an open kitchen and omakase bar. From the Japanese word “to entrust,” omakase means “I’ll leave it up to you.” Customers let the chef decide what to make for them – with the expectation of receiving innovative dishes.

“It’ll be a show in a sense,” said Hansen, who’s considering showing films without sound on one of the walls for added ambiance.

Like the new whiskey bar in the basement, IPK will feature PaperStone table- and countertops – along with LED lighting and a provisions wall stocked with house-made pickles, preserves and dressings. They’ll be used in the restaurant as well as be available for customers to purchase. A ladder will help reach the higher shelves of the larder.

Colors will be gun metal gray, black, white, olive green and other earth tones. An old safe, tucked behind a new set of stairs leading to the catering kitchen below, will hold the wine cellar.

“It’ll be gorgeous,”said Hansen, who named the restaurant in honor of the Inland Northwest region as well as the street address. The old Washington Cracker Co. building is located on Pacific Avenue.

The logo, done in lavender, features a sprig of yarrow.

Hansen plans to rework the menu every four to six weeks – “kind of like Next,” Crumbaugh said, referring to the Chicago restaurant which changes its menus every few months, focusing on cuisines from different parts of the world, time periods or abstract themes.

The first offering at IPK is set to be based on the elevation-themed dinner Hansen presented last year at the James Beard House, the New York brownstone that had belonged to the cookery writer and teacher. Hansen is slated to cook there again – for the third time – in July. He’s planning to host practice dinners at IPK before he goes.

At IPK’s omakase bar, nigiri and sushi – “no rolls,” Hansen said – are also planned for the initial offering. But raw, Japanese-style seafood won’t always be available. The selection at that seating area will change, too, Hansen said.

He also said he aims to keep most dishes – they will be small plates – at $20 or less. But, if he offers a steakhouse-themed menu, for example – like Next did in early 2014 – the prices will likely be in the $40 to $50 range, Hansen said.

The bar will feature sake, wine and a small selection of rotating specialty cocktails.

IPK will be open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Other nights, Hansen plans to hold private events, classes and collaboration dinners, even inviting home cooks to cook alongside him.

“It’s a kitchen for everybody and anybody,” he said.

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