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Crave brings together everything that is delicious about Spokane

Chad White, left, and Adam Hegsted pose at the 2021 Crave at CenterPlace Regional Event Center in Spokane Valley.  (Ari Nordhagen/Kinetek Media)

For anyone who enjoys the art of food, taste -making, wine and assorted brewed beverages, Crave is a can’t-miss event.

As a premiere food and hospitality festival that began in 2017 in Spokane Valley, Crave is a three-day event where local hospitality entrepreneurs can bring their cooking skills to the table.

Each day of the festival has a theme. Hoedown Showdown with comfort food, country music and line dancing will be on Thursday. Food From Around the World will be Friday. Then, Saturday will be smoke- and fire-themed, which means artisans present dishes and tastes made over an open flame.

Local chefs like Ryan Thornes from Anthony’s, Phil Green from Wooden City, Emy McNosky from Big Pan Paella and Travis Dickinson from Cochinito Taqueria will all be showcasing their talents in this weekend’s Spokane Valley event.

About 15 years ago, Adam Hegsted, a Spokane native, owner of Eat Good Group and the culinary director and visionary for Crave, saw a problem with Spokane’s food scene: There wasn’t one.

To rectify this, Hegsted met with other Spokane culinary leaders about “how we can advance and create some sort of a food culture in Spokane,” Hegsted said.

“When I went to culinary school, I thought that you had to go to Seattle, Chicago or New York to make a name for yourself,” Hegsted said, “and I wanted to help create that here. I wanted chefs to be able to stay here, make a name for themselves, have a really successful career and be proud of the place that they work.”

Hegsted and other local chefs, like Latah Bistro’s David Blaine, opened pop-up restaurants throughout Spokane to drive the food scene in a new direction and create “a sense of community within the chef community,” Hegsted said. “With all of us working individually, but together, it created our food scene.”

In 2017, with the help of other chefs and the community, Hegsted was able to open the first Crave event in Spokane Valley. Tickets sold out.

“People come up from Oregon and fly in from Seattle, from Leavenworth, from Idaho. Even from parts of Montana,” said Crave program manager Rachael Ludwick.

Crave has become “such a large festival that it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we have a higher demand now. Let’s expand and see what we can do,’ ” Ludwick said. This is the first year that Crave has hosted a festival in both Lynnwood and Billings.

Hegsted “wanted to grow a beautiful food event to bring the community of Spokane together around food,” Ludwick said, and people come from all around the Pacific Northwest to see it happen in their communities too.

Crave also showcases the local food that farmers and brewers use to create their menus.

“We have amazing farmers, we have amazing ingredients, we have wonderful people,” Ludwick said.

The local vendors participating in Crave “are sourcing their products from nearby farmers and producers,” Ludwick added, making it possible to “support the sustainable agricultural practices here in our area. Then, of course, you get quality and freshness by using local vendors and supporting small local businesses.”

“That’s part of what Crave is too, it’s like being proud of the things that are happening here, being proud of the people that are here doing great things,” Hegsted said.

Each vendor will be making a specialty dish or drink to entice the crowd’s taste buds. Green from Wooden City will make a blistered Hungarian pepper with sweet sausage and aged cheddar chili oil and toasted Ciabatta and Dickinson from Cochinito Taqueria plans to do a pork belly taco with citrus salsa, plantain puree, pickled onion, sesame and cilantro.

Crave will showcase many breweries and wineries like Dry Fly Distilling, Brick West Brewing and Blue Spirits Distilling.

“It’s not just chefs,” Hegsted said, “but it’s about artisans, people that make great products and then putting it in front of people that maybe wouldn’t normally see it.”

There will also be desserts from Nothing Bundt Cakes, Sweet Frostings and Lush Cotton Candy, as well as herbal tea vendors and coffee roasters to finish off the evening.

A little advice from Ludwick to those experiencing Crave for the first time: “Come hungry is the No. 1 thing, and start with our food vendors,” she said.

“Come as hungry as possible.”