Local chef and restaurateur Adam Hegsted created Crave Food and Drink Celebration, and the culinary event premiered in 2017 at CenterPlace Regional Event Center in Spokane Valley.
The third annual Crave is July 11-13, and Hegsted and his culinary team hosted a media dinner in Seattle on May 29 to promote the young food-and-wine gathering.
The mastermind behind Yards Bruncheon, Wandering Table, Incrediburger & Eggs, Gilded Unicorn, Le Catering and another downtown Spokane location opening in the near future (think Hot Pockets), among others, chatted about Crave over chicken fried steak and eggs at Cottage Café in Spokane Valley on a recent Friday afternoon.
Where do you think Crave is at in 2019?
People know a little more about it now. When we started, it was hard to explain it to people who had never been to food and wine festivals like in South Beach and Aspen. Now that we have videos and pictures and people have attended Crave, they have a better idea about it – and they’re excited about it.
The reception the first year was great, as was the quality of chefs and food and drinks. It was amazing. Crave is about building community and being together and getting people excited about what we’re doing. It continues to be amazing and keep building.
What is happening now with Crave?
As our community evolves, people are taking risks and going beyond our normal spectrum of restaurants. You see this especially at chef-owned restaurants like Ruins and Zona Blanca Ceviche, whereas an owner might not want to take risks. It’s at least a fun experience.
I want Crave to be this catalyst to keep everyone moving and excited. And the other part is communication and talking and getting support from other chefs and vendors and distillers and wineries so that restaurants stay open and are successful.
In the first three years, Crave has featured seafood, a global tour of cuisine, barbecue and a grand tasting. Is there anything that you would like to see added in the future?
I would like us to do more off-site events, chefs partnering with other chefs, so that people can have an experience not only at the main Crave venue but also satellite events for people who can’t make it every day to all the events. It’s more intimate, and a dinner is different than walking around and trying a lot of small bites.
I also would like to get more people involved – all types of restaurants – to talk about making restaurants and service and the overall industry better.
How do you think your Crave media event went last month in Seattle?
It was a lot of fun, but I think that we should’ve opened up seats to the public to get a better mix of people. On our side, we had a lot of fun creating dishes that we don’t normally get to serve very often. We wanted to show people in Seattle that we have some great things going on over here. It also would’ve been great to get more chefs involved.
How do you respond to people who still turn their noses up at Spokane’s culinary scene?
It’s still new. We really didn’t get anything started until about 10 years ago, when there weren’t very many chef-owned restaurants and people weren’t taking risks and weren’t very adventurous.
It really is about communication and thinking about how we can make our restaurants better. Now we’re getting national recognition. We’ve had some James Beard Award nominations. We’ve had national write-ups where people are looking over here now.
What is missing in Spokane’s culinary scene in 2019?
Ethnic cuisine. It takes time for people to take risks and try something new. It’s scary and difficult, but I think that we have a food culture now that is more accepting. I think that people will go to it if chefs and restaurateurs take a chance.
For somebody who has never attended Crave, why should they go for the first time this year?
They need to go because it’s an amazing experience to see the quality of people, food, wineries, restaurants, distillers and breweries all in one place at one event – it’s a great experience.
The Spokesman-Review is partnering with Crave for the first time this year, and applications for 2019 Crave bloggers/social media ambassadors are being accepted through June 27, with decisions made by July 2. For more information about Crave, go to https://cravenw.com.
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