I had the privilege of attending the 6th annual Quillisascut Chef Retreat at Quillisascut Cheese Farm near Kettle Falls, WA this weekend. This is an invitation only event started by David Blaine of Central Food, an awesome new restaurant in Spokane. The purpose is simply to bring together chefs, restaurant owners, and other culinary professionals for networking and discussing ways to facilitate the trend towards locally produced, sustainable, good food. Rick and Lora Lea Misterly were gracious hosts, offering their gorgeous farmhouse and giving us a very interesting tour of their award winning cheese farm and school of domestic arts. There were chefs and owners from Spokane restaurants including Central Food, Manito Tap House, Casper Fry, Steamplant Grill, Latah Bistro, Boots Bakery, Stella Cafe, a popular Pullman restaurant called The Black Cypress, the Garland Theater, a chef instructor at SPokane Community College, a food blogger Farm Girl Gourmet, and a board member at Main Market Coop.
On Saturday evening and Sunday morning everyone split into teams and made a dish to contribute to the meal. The food was all locally produced, and of the highest quality. I can say with certainty that both meals, but particularly the feast on Saturday night, was one of the most enjoyable of my life. These guys know their stuff! What was probably most notable was that simplicity seemed to be a common theme. These great chefs just used fantastic ingredients and knew just how much and how to pare them together.
It was amazing to engage in conversation with these leaders of the slow food and sustainable, local food movement in the Inland Northwest. Many of the very best restaurants in Spokane were represented, and I left with the impression that the Inland Northwest food movement is in the middle of a renaissance. Fortunately the same culinary movement is taking place in the coffee world with a greater appreciation for handcrafted, artisan coffee. I brought a hario v6o pourover brew bar and served our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Birhanu, Nicaragua Los Congos Estate, Kenya Igutha, and El Salvador Las Delicias Pacamara. It was encouraging to see all of these guys and girls drinking our coffee black and really appreciating the nuanced flavors of each of these distinctive single origin coffees.
I look forward to frequenting all these restaurants and continuing to build relationships with this group of fun and interesting people.