Food is always on the mind of Northern Quest Resort & Casino’s Frank Comito. When Northern Quest closed because of the coronavirus outbreak last Wednesday, the executive banquet chef immediately thought about the perishable food that would go to waste.
The first call Comito made was to his spouse, Barbara Comito, who is the director of marketing for the Union Gospel Mission.
“I contacted my wife and told her that we have more than 500 pounds of chicken and beef,” Comito said. “I asked her if she would accept what we had, and she called the food service director, who said she was desperate for this kind of stuff.”
It was a godsend since Union Gospel has cut volunteers with the exception of medical due to the coronavirus.
“We were ecstatic,” Barbara Comito said. “All the vegetables were cut, and the food was in a marinade. It made things much easier for us to use since the amount of prep work is limited. It’s a huge help.”
Frank Comito wasn’t finished during a busy Wednesday afternoon. He cooked up a feast for 50. Prime rib, mashed potatoes, asparagus and bread rolls were delivered to the Ronald McDonald House.
“Everyone was thrilled,” Comito said. “It’s a brand-new location, so we were one of the first to deliver a meal. We were going to set up for a buffet, but that’s not the way to go anymore. It all worked out.”
Northern Quest pastry chef Christina Stephenson capped the dinner with a cake with the Ronald McDonald House logo. “People were blown away by the cake,” Comito said. “People couldn’t thank us enough.”
Curt Holmes, the executive director of government affairs for the Kalispel Tribe, said Northern Quest Casino has a long history of donating to the Ronald McDonald House.
“When we opened our doors in December of 2000, the Ronald McDonald House was the first recipient of our services, and we’re proud to still be giving. We’re about doing what we can for families in need. We’re pleased to have given to the Ronald McDonald House and to Union Gospel Mission.
Northern Quest also donated 14 pallets of food to food banks in Spokane, Cusick and Newport.
“We took 100 hotel pans to the Spokane Food Bank on Wednesday, and we just dropped off another 80 pans today,” Comito said. “We did well, and we were inventive when we had to be since we didn’t want to waste any food.”
An example of Comito’s creativity was his Southwest chicken pasta. He cooked penne pasta and taco meat from Epic Bar & Grill, cheese from River’s Edge Buffet, pico de gallo from Qdoba and green onions from Fai’s Noodle House.
“I utilized what we had in our restaurants and came up with something fun,” Comito said. “The greatest thing about this is that we donated a great deal of food, and the other amazing thing is that we didn’t throw any food away.
“We are literally doing the best we can to make the best of a bad situation. People are being fed during a very difficult time, and we couldn’t be happier.”
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