Prolific Spokane chef Jeremy Hansen is headed to Philadelphia early next month after accepting an offer to be an executive chef.
Hansen, who opened Smoke & Mirrors Saloon this spring on Main Avenue where Santé Restaurant sat before, announced the news on an episode of the Amalgam Podcast posted Tuesday morning. The Spokane Culinary Arts Guild also featured the news in a Tuesday morning post .
“It’s pretty crazy. We’ve known for a minute, but now we’re trying to get everything together,” Hansen said over the phone early Tuesday afternoon. “(My wife) Kate said to me the other day, ‘You know you’re leaving in seven days and nobody knows?’ I reached out to my friend at the podcast and said to him, ‘Let’s do something fun.’ ”
While the name of the restaurant remains a secret, Hansen said he was contacted by a headhunting agency for a promising new restaurant set to open soon. Hansen is leaving Spokane on Aug. 5.
“It’s an executive chef position in Philadelphia where I’ll be basically running two restaurants with 80 employees. I start Aug. 15,” said Hansen, after which he plans to make an official annoucement.
Hansen’s move came fast, especially by restaurant standards. He was in New York for much of June helping friends open a restaurant, which they debuted last week. While there at the start of June, Hansen received what he described as a strange phone call.
“As a business owner, I usually get robo calls or people wanting to borrow money. I sat on it for a couple days, then called them back. It was a headhunting agency that is hired by high-end restaurants, and they asked if I ever considered moving to Philadelphia,” Hansen said.
“I told them not really, but I was flown to Philadelphia to check it out, then flown back again to cook for them. I fell in love with the city, and this was a great restaurant opportunity. It’s right up my alley. It’s a mix of Santé, the bakery (Common Crumb Artisan Bakery) and Inland Pacific Kitchen – it’s crazy how much it matches my profile perfectly.
“The phone call was so random, but I told Kate to check it out. We stewed on it, and, after formal offers back and forth, we decided to take it in the first week of July. This has all been really fast. This is really fast for the restaurant industry.”
The Hansens plan to sell all three of their restaurants in Spokane: Smoke & Mirrors Saloon, Inland Pacific Kitchen and Hogwash Whiskey Den.
In the post written by the culinary arts guild, Hansen said he’s already in the process of selling his restaurants, some of which he “already had offers on before he announced the sale.”
“It’s been whispered around that the restaurants are for sale, and we have one of them sold,” Hansen told The Spokesman-Review. “We’re already working on the paperwork. There is interest in the others, as well.”
“I’ll be back and forth for the next three months,” Hansen continued over the phone. “Kate is staying through October to help out with the transition and be the boots on the ground. But the transition could be done before then.
“It has been a difficult decision, and at the same time it hasn’t been a difficult decision because the opportunity is amazing and perfect for my family and me. I was born and raised in Spokane, then left, and Spokane has been home again for 12 years. It’s hard to put the brakes on and pivot.”
Jeremy and Kate Hansen rose to fame in the Spokane culinary scene after opening Santé in 2008. They closed Biscuit Wizard and Common Crumb Artisan Bakery at Saranac Commons in June.
Hansen was named a semifinalist for a James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest in 2015. Last year, he earned the Chef of the Year award from the guild.
“I’ll miss my friends and family and the people of Spokane,” Hansen said. “One regret I have is that I’ll miss the future of Spokane and what’s to come after being a part of it. I’m proud that we’ve done our part, and it will be tough to not be part of the great push into the future and see my hometown really grow.
“I feel good about what we did and accomplished, and there are a lot of amazing things going on in this city. Spokane is my home, and we won’t be fully gone. I want my kids to see their grandparents.”
Hansen summed up, “Everything was right about this, and it still feels right. I’m checking off everything on my wish list, and the stars are aligning.”
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