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Chef plans Crave NW Food and Wine Festival

Adam Hegsted sits at the bar with three of Gilded Unicorn’s signature cocktails in this file photo from 2015. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Adam Hegsted sits at the bar with three of Gilded Unicorn’s signature cocktails in this file photo from 2015. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Adam Hegsted, the chef-owner of a handful of restaurants in the Inland Northwest, is planning a four-day food festival for mid-June.

He’s asked the city of Spokane Valley to formally sponsor the event, which he hopes to hold over Father’s Day weekend at CenterPlace, Spokane Valley’s event center at Mirabeau Point Park.

Hegsted’s Le Catering Co. is the contracted catering company at CenterPlace.

His plan is to partner with Tom Stebbins, owner of Vision Marketing of Newman Lake, to put on the Crave NW Food and Wine Festival, inspired by Feast Portland and the South Beach Food and Wine Festival in Miami.

Hegsted attended the Miami fest a few years back and has wanted to organize a similar event in the Spokane area ever since.

“This has been a dream of mine for some time, and I’ve decided it’s time to do it,” said Hegsted, owner of the Eat Good Group, made up of Wandering Table, Gilded Unicorn, Yards Bruncheon, The Cellar and Eat Good Café, as well as the catering company.

“I think as a community we are ready, and this will help to keep the positive momentum we have flowing in the right direction. We have some great things going on right now in our region, and I think this will help us get to the next level.”

His plans come on the heels of two other food festivals launched in 2016.

In September in Kendall Yards, Spokane promoter Kris Kilduff put on the first Restaurant Wars fest, which featured a small-plate competition, beer garden, live music and vendors.

And last March, Jeremy Hansen, chef-owner of Sante Restaurant and Charcuterie, Common Crumb Artisan Bakery, Hogwash Whiskey Den and Inland Pacific Kitchen, hosted a four-day Chefs Week PNW in the old Washington Cracker Co. building. It included multi-course meals, butchering demonstrations, vendors, wine tasting and more.

“I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes,” Hegsted said. But, “what we want to do is different.”

The aim is to draw chefs, winemakers, distillers, brewers and artisan food producers from throughout the Inland Northwest as well as the Pacific Northwest – and gain regional as well as national attention.

“We are shooting for a huge event and to be noticed nationally,” said Hegsted, who’s asking the city for $50,000, including in-kind sponsorship, such as the approximately $22,000 in rental fees for those four days. Additional costs include developing a website and marketing materials.

“We’re doing the festival no matter what,” Hegsted said. “We would love to do it in Spokane Valley.”

In fact, he’s hoping to host the festival in the Spokane Valley for at least five years. Dates for the first event are slated to be June 15, 16, 17 and 18.

Funds raised from the inaugural event will support Big Table, a nonprofit that aids workers in the restaurant and hospitality industries.

The line-up includes multi-course meals as well as chef demonstrations, tastings, cooking classes, food photography and other workshops, vendors and original programming centered around wine, coffee, brewing, food pairings, low-proof cocktails and plating.

Also in the works: a cocktail tour in downtown Spokane, featuring local bars, bartenders and distillers.

Hegsted plans to hold after-parties, too, “so the chefs and winemakers will be able to mingle.”

He’ll invite some 15 chefs from throughout the Inland Northwest as well as Boise, Missoula, Seattle and Portland.

“We’ve got some great chefs here, but our side (of the state) doesn’t really get represented often,” Hegsted said. “So we’ll have more of our own people.”

Thursday’s dinner theme is “seafood bash.” Friday, it’s a “global market,” spotlighting popular street foods from around the world. Saturday’s theme: “smoke and fire,” featuring outdoor cooking with fire. Festivities wrap up Sunday with a Father’s Day brunch.

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