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Chef Spotlight: Shaun Chambers

UPDATED: Fri., March 17, 2017

Shaun Chambers is the executive chef at Durkin's Liquor Bar in downtown Spokane. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)
Shaun Chambers is the executive chef at Durkin's Liquor Bar in downtown Spokane. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)

Welcome to the first installment of a new and occasional series to help us get to know local chefs.

We’ll learn about where they dine out and who or what inspired them in their culinary careers. Plus, they’ll share a recipe.

First up is Shaun Chambers at Durkin’s Liquor Bar.

What’s your favorite dish to cook at home? I really don’t cook at home too much these days. After cooking and dealing with food all day the last thing I want to do when I get home is cook for myself. I do, however, cook for my parents whenever I can and even then I still couldn’t name a favorite.

Where do you eat when you eat out? I’m not going to lie: Taco Bell makes up a good portion of my diet. It’s fast, consistent and, when covered in enough hot sauce, delicious. When I do actually go out I go to Vien Dong, Ruins, Sante, Casper Fry, Zona Blanca, Taste of India and Our Thai House.

Who or what inspired you to become a chef, and how? I have been asked this question many times, and I still don’t really have an answer. It kind of just happened. The first two chefs that I had hands-on experience with were probably the most inspiring: chefs Pete Tobin (of Inland Northwest Culinary Academy at Spokane Community College) and Shilo Pierce (of Rocket Market, formerly of Luna). They both really opened my eyes to what a chef actually was as I really had no idea outside of watching the Food Network.

What are your go-to ingredients? Salt, Mama Lil’s Pickled Hungarian Goathorn Peppers in Oil, lemon juice, garlic, curry paste, chives, onions and shallots, and wine.

What was the first dish a customer ever sent back to you, and how did you handle it? Oatmeal. I had been cooking for maybe three weeks and was asked to make breakfast for the owner of the restaurant I was working at. She said it was the worst thing she had ever eaten and insisted that someone else cook her food. I can’t remember how I handled it, but hiding in the back for the rest of the day sounds about right.

What’s a dish you’ve never made but would like to, and why? I have really been wanting to start cooking more Indian food; it is my favorite food. Other than being lazy I have no other reason as to why I haven’t tried to make it yet. Ordering spices off of Amazon takes an incredible amount of effort.

What dish or ingredient best represents you? Pho, hands down.

Romesco

From Shaun Chambers of Durkin’s Liquor Bar

4 Roma tomatoes, halved

10 cloves garlic

4 tablespoons almonds

4 tablespoons hazelnuts

1 jalapeño, halved

1 (2-inch thick) slice of focaccia

3 red bell peppers, roasted (See recipe below)

7 Peppadew sweet piquant peppers, from a jar

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 cup olive oil blend

Place tomatoes, garlic, nuts, jalapeño and focaccia on a sheet tray and roast in a 350-degree oven. Stir every 5 minutes or so, and cook until garlic is browned and bread is toasted. Once done, cool to room temp. Add all ingredients except oil to a food processor. Run food processor while slowly adding oil until all ingredients are pureed.

Note: This sauce is something I pretty much always keep on hand. It has the versatility of ketchup but is infinitely better and super easy to make.

I have added a few things to the recipe over the years of constantly making it, but it is still essentially a traditional Romesco.

Roasted Red Peppers

From Shaun Chambers of Durkin’s Liquor Bar

4 large red bell peppers

2 tablespoons olive oil

Rub peppers with oil. Then, char the skin of the bell peppers enough to be able to peal it off. You can either use a blowtorch, barbecue or the broiler on your oven.

Once skins are completely wrinkled and blackened, transfer peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse them under running water to get the skin off. Using a strainer or colander here will help catch the skin and make clean up easier. Once peeled, simply tear in half and discard seeds and ribs.

Durkin’s Liquor Bar is at 415 W. Main Ave. Call (509) 863-9501. On the web: durkinsliquorbar.com.

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