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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

New on the menu in 2020: Culinary industry weighs in on the year ahead in the Spokane area

The Spokane area’s culinary scene is on the rise and burgeoning by many accounts. With the new year a week old, The Spokesman-Review asked members of that growing culinary industry what they are looking forward to most in 2020 and if they have any resolutions pertaining to their jobs and work.

One respondent, Indaba founder and CEO Bobby Enslow, was short and to the point, and a few others not so much – but all the responses are thoughtful. Here are their answers (a few of them edited for space):

Aaron DeLis

Owner, Rusty Moose and Luna

With every new year, our company sets new standards of food and service. As our team puts our heads together on ways we can improve the all-around guest experience, we stay true to our company motto: “Fearless Pursuit of Progress.” The new year promises to be a year of many challenges and change in the hospitality industry, especially for heavily staffed, full-service restaurants.

We believe, however, that with change comes opportunity. We realize that we have a responsibility and powerful opportunity to lead with our strongest suit: hospitality. Our goal for 2020 is to provide our guest a value-driven experience with a new standard of hospitality. To accomplish this, our staff must embrace the importance of teamwork, accountability and professionalism.

Aaron Fish

Corporate chef, Eat Good Group

I’m excited for not only our new endeavors (Taco Suave and our bakery, Doughlicious), but also the new restaurants opening up like Tony Brown’s new place.

Resolutions: Be more active in our culinary community. It’s too easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day. I want to celebrate other chefs and their achievements and eat their tasty food.

Bobby Enslow

Founder and CEO, Indaba Coffee

More collaboration and innovation. Create new partnerships with nonprofits to help fight homelessness.

Chad White

Chef /owner, Zona Blanca Ceviche Bar, High Tide Lobster Bar and TT’s Old Iron Brewery & BBQ

New and exciting restaurants from Tony Brown and Ian Wingate. Multiple food and wine events like Crave Northwest, Coeur d’Alene Food & Wine, From the Ashes and the growth of our local farmers markets.

I have a few projects in the works I cannot speak of just yet, but they will add contrast to Spokane’s growing culinary scene. Mostly this year will be about fine tuning, more collaboration and a continued effort toward a healthier lifestyle.

Chase Van Cotthem

Managing partner, Shawn O’Donnell’s American Grill & Irish Pub

With the economy growing and more people choosing to live in and visit Spokane, 2020 will be a fun year for entrepreneurs to take the risk and test new concepts here.

My hope is that restaurateurs will see 2020 as a year to improve the livability of our industry.

David Adlard

Chef/owner, Candle in the Woods

The increasing diversity and quality of the local food scene – innovative, fresh options, creative food, more original, upscale options with top-flight driver and food, but with atmospheres where people can still relax and have fun. In other words, a total dining “experience.”

Continue to innovate and evolve, create even more new dishes, (finally!) get our cookbook out, do a few more festivals and competitions. Visit and support other chefs and venues: I made it to 82 last year and would like to do more!

Deborah di Bernardo

Owner, Roast House Coffee and First Avenue Coffee

We live in tumultuous times where in my lifetime many of our favorite foods – chocolate, vanilla, coffee and bananas – are critically threatened. Hopefully our culinary community will create educational, engaging and fun events to drive awareness and perhaps preserve these threatened foods for our children and grandchildren. People in food services have the unique and glorious means of sharing food issues without threat or fear – just fact and common sense.

Drew Padrta

Owner, Bridge Press Cellars

I look forward to seeing all the new restaurants and breweries open in Spokane. Spokane is on its way to becoming a foodie city, which is very exciting.

A resolution would be to bring Spokane an amazing music and culinary experience at the Bar at Bridge Press.

Erin Peterson

Digital strategist, Spokane Culinary Arts Guild

One of the best shifts is increased access to cuisine that makes all diners feel welcome (gluten-free, vegan and allergy-sensitive). The more inclusive that our food scene becomes, the better the experience will be for everyone. I also am grateful to see more chef-owners take on successful restaurants here in Spokane (like Tony Brown with the opening of Eyvind and Hunt), and the richness that brings to our culinary culture. I am seeing more talented young chefs discover and stay in our city, and that is vital for continued growth and development.

I continue to be resolved to show our local restaurants and business owners what quality digital strategy can do to enhance their bottom line. My resolution is to begin teaching classes to business owners. If a business does not have a quality digital footprint, they are missing out on so many new and repeat customers. We hope to help showcase the wonderful attributes of Spokane’s thriving economic and cultural engine and, most importantly, to do it justice.

Justin Schorzman

Guest service manager, Kootenai Health

The rise of the public appreciation for the industry. With the availability of great food, outstanding beer, exquisite wine and amazing libations throughout our area, it is very hard not to notice the great time that we live in for culinary arts here in the Pacific Northwest. We are surrounded by amazing, talented people who are pouring their passion into their craft. Chefs like Adam Hegsted, Chad White and Tony Brown, just to name a few, who over the past five years have opened multiple locations that highlight their love for this industry. These great leaders in this industry now can’t help but inspire future leaders for tomorrow.

I have been involved in the beverage industry for more than 20 years, seven of those as the director of beverage for the Coeur d’Alene Resort, and have been fortunate to be a producer of multiple festival events during that time, most recently the Food & Wine Festival and the Whiskey Barrel Weekend. I watched firsthand the interest and fascination of the culinary arts. We are in a great time in the culinary arts, and it is truly amazing to think of what 2020 can be. I know that my senses are absolutely excited about it!

Ricky Webster

Business resources consultant, Sysco Spokane

New concepts to open, hoping for some more ethnic foods and excited for more modern dining with places like Eyvind.

I’d love to open my own place. I have a few concepts that I’d like to explore more. I adore Spokane and what the city has to offer, as well as the community I’ve built. We’ve been here for three years, and I’d love nothing more than to be part of the moving and shaking food scene again, this time with my own little something.

Taylor Siok

Pastry chef, Luna

I would like to see Spokane’s culinary leaders push themselves to be great. There is a lot of potential for innovation, and Spokane is ready for it.

My goal is to help shape the future culinary leaders in our city starting with my sous chef and cooks. They all have the potential to help build an awesome culinary scene in Spokane, and I want to give them the support and tools they need to be successful.

Thomas Hammer

Owner, Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasters

I am impressed with the passion the area restaurant owners continue to put forth to establish Spokane as the hub for great food experiences.

My resolution is to continue that passion at our new South Hill location in 2020 and also in our current retail locations as we launch Hammer Kitchen in 2020. We want to make Spokane a fabulous city to experience food, drink and of course coffee! In this seemingly divisive climate, may we strive to make all of our coffee shops places for the community to gather to have polite, informative and educational debate and discussion on the all tough topics we face each day. That would make all of us at Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasters, well, simply happy.

Travis Dickinson

Chef and co-owner, Cochinito Taqueria

Locally, I am excited to watch Spokane’s food scene continue to grow and emerge as a top-notch food city. I am especially excited to see downtown develop and expand. I am looking forward to watching our industry change and adapt like it always does. New food trends popping up, influences from other cultures and backgrounds creating new styles of food. As our industry has to adapt to the quickly rising costs of goods and labor, we will need to see a new focus on refining simplicity. Doing all the little things perfectly and minimizing waste and excess.

My resolutions are to continue to get better as a chef and owner. To keep our food and service fresh and exciting, and, most importantly, to continue to do the best we can at taking care of our team and guests. I hope that in 2020 we can get the ball rolling in expanding our concept to other parts of Spokane and the Inland NW.