The challenge: Take $100 to the South Perry Farmers Market, and using only what you find there, plan, cook and serve a meal of rustic ingredients polished with culinary skill. Chef Jeremy Hansen accepted, and you can read all about it in the current issue of INHealth or on Inlander.com.
Just a few weeks later, he replicated the feat at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City. But instead of cooking it right there, he took his haul down to the James Beard House, where culinary careers are made and where he and his team served a meal to some of the most important diners in America. He seems to have won over the Manhattan mavens with his blend of fresh-from-their-very-own-market courses and imported-from-Spokane creations perfected at his downtown restaurant, Santé. (Three of his courses were from the NYC market; the others featured, among many ingredients, Rocky Ridge Ranch’s Berkshire pork, Barrister and Overbluff wines and Columbia River sturgeon from Williams Seafood.)
“Spokane is on their radar now,” says Hansen, just back from his whirlwind trip. “Santé is on their radar, too.”
I love Jeremy Hansen’s food. Every bite is like a tour of refined European cooking, with the familiar punch of local flavors. But I also love how he inhabits the “Born & Raised” ethic you see on all those No-Li bottles. The Shadle kid has lived and cooked all over, but now, at 37 with a young family, he’s back in his hometown — “and here to stay.”
Hansen is the first Spokane chef to be invited to make a pilgrimage to America’s shrine to food; his goal was to put Spokane’s bounty — our food and our people — on the biggest stage in the business.
“The funny thing was, people in New York seemed to know Spokane,” Hansen says. “We went to a cool bar in Brooklyn, and the bartender was from Spokane.” One of the James Beard House members in the dining room grew up out this way and told Hansen he was coming to Santé; a couple who have been dining at the House every week for 30 years told him that his was one of their favorite meals — ever. They’re planning a visit, too.
During service, Hansen says the another-day-at-the-office looks of the permanent staff gave way to furtive smartphone Googling of “Jeremy Hansen” and “Santé” as the evening wore on. When not a single diner left before the post-meal Q-and-A, veteran servers commented that never happens.
Now there’s another thing on the James Beard House’s radar: Jeremy Hansen. Did our little secret just get out?