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Chef’s grand idea goes in the pot … the Instant Pot

Nothing makes sense about how much I watch the Food Network. I love it. The problem is I don’t really cook. And I’d never eat anything I’ve seen prepared on one of those shows.

Well, I’d probably eat the things on the baking shows. I’m a sucker for carbs flavored with sugar and covered with icing.

A longtime friend of mine loves to joke that I don’t eat anything that’s not on the menu at the Sonic Drive-In. The problem is I can’t see the humor in something that’s actually true. Sonic is delicious.

What makes even less sense is how much I love the show “Top Chef” – the annual competition to find the best unknown chef in the country. If I’m not eating the things Guy Fieri showcases, then I’m certainly not eating anything on Bravo’s hit show.

Yet, I never miss an episode of the show.

Back when I worked at The Orange County Register, local chef Amar Santana was featured in season 13 of “Top Chef.” Our newspaper covered that season like it was the Anaheim Angels baseball team. Some episodes even became front-page news.

Before I arrived in Spokane to work at The Spokesman-Review, I knew Chad White was not only raised in Eastern Washington, but that he’d recently moved home from Southern California to open a restaurant here. Chad was also a “Top Chef” contestant in Season 13 and was one of my favorites that year

How could you not root for the guy who enlisted in the military after Sept. 11 and basically learned to cook in the Navy? Especially since he was going against all of these classically trained chefs?

He didn’t just go against them, he beat them. White made it far into the competition and he represented Spokane well.

After getting to work with Chad during the Dorothy Dean home cooking show that our newspaper produced earlier this year, we stayed in touch. He’s smart, talented and interesting. And very passionate about food.

Plus, he’s just a good guy.

Earlier this summer, we realized neither of us had eaten at Three Peaks Kitchen and Bar, at the Spokane Tribe’s casino, where Blerita Kaba is the head chef. Why not go out there together?

Of course, if you’re going to do something like that, you have to have the Spokesman’s fantastic food editor Adriana Janovich with you. (In case you didn’t know this, Adriana was recently named by the Society of Professional Journalists as 2018’s top food writer across Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon. She’s the real deal, too.)

As we were eating way more food at Three Peaks than our small group should’ve ordered, Chad asked if I still had Laurel Randolph’s phone number. Laurel, who has written some of the best-selling Instant Pot cookbooks out there, also was a part of our Dorothy Dean cooking event.

I did and asked why he wanted it.

He said he thought it would be fun to try to prepare a four-course, fine-dining experience using just an Instant Pot … and if you’re going to do that, it would be even more fun if you could do it with Laurel.

As he explained this, both Adriana and I looked at each other and smiled. Really, really big smiles.

This was an incredible idea. We all knew it. Only for different reasons.

Chad wanted the challenge. Adriana wanted to write about how you would go about doing such a thing with the hottest device in home kitchens across the country. And I just wanted to see a couple of really talented chefs cook cool things in front of me.

Not on TV.

In person.

Besides, it perfectly fit the mission of our newspaper’s popular Northwest Passages book club and events series.

We started Northwest Passages for several reasons, but one of the biggest was to make our journalism experiential. We wanted people to be able to get together to talk about the things that they were passionate about.

That’s why we’ve brought in top authors who have discussed everything from the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone Park to fictional mystery-solving small-town sheriffs to how a prominent white nationalist changed his views.

We’ve also held numerous political forums and brought the governor to town so we all could hear his thoughts on various topics of importance to our state and ask him questions directly. We’ve had some of the most important basketball players in Gonzaga history talk about how the Zags moved from Cinderella status to one of college hoops’ elite programs.

And, of course, we held a cooking show with some of the most-interesting and revered chefs in the region and nation.

All of this was done to make it so that the stories we told at The Spokesman-Review were more than just words you read or photos you looked at. We wanted you to be able to experience them.

Who wouldn’t want to know if it’s possible for “Top Chef” and the Instant Pot to come together as a truly unique culinary odd couple?

What’s even cooler is that it’s totally going to happen. And you’re all invited.

Well, that’s not completely true. About 60 of you are invited. More specifically, the 60 of you who buy tickets to the event. But you’re not going to want to miss it.

On Dec. 5, Chad White and Laurel Randolph will prepare a fancy four-course meal in Instant Pots in front of all of that evening’s diners.

Not only will the meal be cooked before your eyes, there will be tips on how to prepare Instant Pot meals at home, recipes will be shared, there will be live music, a few surprise guests are sure to be there, and even a private after-dinner tour of The Spokesman-Review’s historic building, including a rare trip to our clock tower.

And it’s all for an amazing cause.

The Second Harvest food bank will not only receive a generous donation from the ticket sales, Laurel will even teach an Instant Pot class for the organization earlier that week.

We will even be giving each couple in attendance a copy of the first new Dorothy Dean cookbook published in 35 years.

Helping us make all of this happen is Spokane’s own Yoke’s Fresh Markets, who is providing the ingredients for the meal.

Heck, maybe I should call the Food Network or Bravo. Or better yet, our buddies over at KHQ. It kinda seems like this thing should be on TV.