It was love at first bite.
When ESPN analyst Sean Farnham waxes about his initial experience with the Davenport Tower’s spicy shrimp flatbread, it sounds like an early encounter with a significant other.
“It was incredible,” Farnham said when recalling his introduction to his favorite item on the Safari Room’s menu at the Davenport Tower. “I just couldn’t get enough of it. It was when we were doing a tip-off marathon. I was getting a post-game snack, and I just loved it.”
Farnham, 43, flashed a Marilu Henner-esque highly superior autobiographical memory when providing further detail. “The first spicy shrimp flatbread I had was on Nov. 9, 2010. How can I forget it? I never had anything quite like it.”
The former UCLA basketball player’s love for the satisfying snack has been rewarded. The popular menu item, which is now known as “The Farnham Flatbread,” is part of an altruistic effort.
All proceeds from the popular item sold at the Safari Room Fresh Grill and Bar (111 S. Post St., 509-789-6800 and davenporthotelcollection.com) in the Davenport Tower during March Madness will be donated to Farnham’s charity of choice, Coaches vs. Cancer. The flatbread can be ordered for $16.95.
That means a lot to Farnham since his father-in-law battled cancer.
“He fought hard every single day for his grandchildren,” Farnham said. “My wife was his primary caregiver. They told my father-in-law that he had five or six years to live, but he battled cancer for 14 years.
“So I’m really passionate about the battle against cancer, and I’m blown away by the generosity of the Davenport staff.”
The crew at the Davenport are completely behind the fundraiser. “This is an amazing way for our community to show support for our Gonzaga Bulldogs and Coaches vs. Cancer,” said Lynnelle Caudill, managing director of Davenport Hotels.
Farnham’s love of the Davenport isn’t limited to the menu. When Farnham’s teenage son asked for a new bed, he received a Davenport model. “My son needed a new mattress, so I decided to buy a Davenport mattress,” Farnham said. “It’s the best mattress in the world. It says Davenport Hotel on it. How I feel about the Davenport is not a fake thing. It’s genuine and authentic.
“I travel to so many different hotels covering the ACC and the Big Ten, but there’s no place like the Davenport. The Davenport in Spokane is the best.”
Farnham believes the Gonzaga men’s basketball team is the finest team in the tournament and will finally win the NCAA championship next month in Indianapolis.
If the Zags go all the way, the site will be apt since Mark Few’s team would be the first NCAA men’s basketball team to go undefeated since the Indiana Hoosiers in 1976.
“I have Gonzaga winning the national championship,” Farnham said. “They will be the first undefeated team since Indiana won every game in 1976. They have everything. They have leadership from Corey Kispert. They have a player with NBA All-Star potential in Jalen Suggs. You have a guy with elite-level footwork in Drew Timme, and then there are the role players like Anton Watson, who play a vital role on that team.
“Gonzaga also has a really good bracket. They’re going to be very tough to beat. The good people of Spokane, I believe, are going to be celebrating, and that’s going to be great for them since they’re a huge part of the Gonzaga success story. It’s not just the students who support Gonzaga. It’s the entire community.
“Look around at the McCarthey Athletic Center. It’s right there with the Cameron at Duke and the Allen Fieldhouse in Kansas. The McCarthey rocks. Gonzaga basketball is one of the best cultures in college basketball.”
If Gonzaga does run the table to become the first undefeated men’s college basketball team in 45 years, Farnham will return to Spokane for the celebration.
“I already told the Davenport that I want to host the party for Spokane, and I want a station selling nothing but shrimp flatbreads for Coaches vs. Cancer,” Farnham said.
Fans who would like to get up close and personal with Farnham might catch a glimpse of him dining at his second-favorite spot, a natural market, in town.
“I love going to Huckleberry’s for breakfast,” Farnham said. “I love the chicken apple sausage burrito and the pancakes. I also enjoy jogging by the river. Spokane isn’t just a college basketball mecca. It’s such a great city.”