SPOKANE, Wash. -- In the 1950s, James Beard was a renowned cookbook author, teacher and all-around champion of American cuisine. Today, the Beard Foundation continues supporting culinary arts through programs and scholarships.
An invitation to cook at the James Beard House is a dream for many chefs. For the first time, A Spokane chef has been invited to James Beard's big stage.
Chef Jeremy Hansen of Santé Restaurant and Charcuterie will prepare a dinner at the James Beard House in August 15th. Hansen launched an online fundraiser to help pay for the dinner. He raised $10,037 with the help of 75 people.
As part of the dinner, Santé is required to pay for not only all of the food and beverages for an 80-person dinner, but is also responsible for all travel costs for everyone on the team.
Hansen also held a practice dinner for 40 guests to raise money. The menu was a replica of the one Chef Hansen and his team will prepare in New York City.
"It's like going to the major leagues or the NFL," said Hansen.
An invitation to prepare a beard foundation dinner has proven to be a stepping stone for many a chef. Therefore, when Chef Hansen received an invitation he could not believe his eyes.
“Well, I got home at like two in the morning because I was working late,” said Hansen, “and I opened up the email and I read it and I was like, ‘What? I can't... wait what?’"
Hansen is the first Spokane chef ever chosen for the honor. In addition, he will display the Spokane region during his dinner.
"There's such a bounty of great food to be harvested in our neighborhood," stated Hansen.
For example, the pork loin on the menu comes from Reardon's Rocky Ridge Ranch. The honey comes from right next door.
"Our neighbors raise the honey that we're taking from Five Mile," said Hansen’s wife, Kate.
The salad greens are rushed straight from Spokane's Urban Eden farm. Farmers there lovingly tend to their produce -- getting it ready for the big stage.
"Obviously it's highly prestigious,” said the owner of Urban Eden, Jim Schrock.
He said he used to watch James Beard on TV.
Beard House guests will also be treated to the wine that Chef Hansen fell in love with from Spokane's Overbluff Cellars.
“We actually took some out of the barrel and gave them a sneak peek and they really liked that," said Overbluff’s Darby McKee.
Wine cellar employees are bottling the wine especially for Sante's James Beard dinner. Chef Hansen will gather the wine along with all the other beautiful Washington ingredients and fly them clear across the country.
"They're going to have to fly fast to New York, you know,” said Schrock. “I hope they have good coolers."
"That is going to be the tricky part," added Chef Hansen with a sigh.
When it comes to taking his show on the road, there are a countless variables. Which is why Chef Hansen is hoping his recent practice dinner makes perfect.
Chef Hansen tastes everything before it makes it to a plate in order to give the Big Apple a proper bite of Spokane. Hansen said if it is not perfect, he would make it so.
The guest chef must donate the time, talent and all the ingredients since James Beard dinners are fundraisers for the foundation.
Many of Sante’s Inland Northwest suppliers have graciously donated ingredients. Sante still has to pay for the flights and lodging for more than a dozen team members.