“We consider ourselves to be whores,” jokes Mizuna chef Scott Diamond, reflecting on the churn-and-burn nature of the restaurant industry.
Hey, now. Whores with mad garde mangier skills. “I keep track of all my friends,” says chef David Blaine of Latah Bistro, who remembers a time when the Davenport’s kitchen staff had the best collection of cooks Spokane had ever seen. “The influence of those people coming through the Davenport has been pretty significant.”
As of late, there’s been some shakeup in the local food scene. Which got us curious:
Who’s coming from where? Whose spot did they fill?
And what’s going to come of it?
So we did some chef-stalking. This is what we learned.
Note: Map does not account for places outside of Spokane or Coeur d’Alene.
Current: Chef, Mizuna | First Gig: C.I. Shenanigans “I’m learning more than I’ve learned in long time,” says Diamond. “My new deal is totally thinking outside the box of what I’m used to, as far as vegan and vegetarian action goes … The sky’s the limit out there. You got to get down to the basic flavors.”
Current: Executive Chef, C.I. Shenanigans First Gig: Max at Mirabeau Born and raised in Alaska, schooled in Arizona and employed in Southern California, Thornton says his cooking style reflects that. “I just like to take a little bit of each part of those places I’ve been,” he says.
Current: Executive Chef, Wild Sage First Gig: Beverly’s (Coeur d’Alene Resort) After Wild Sage’s longtime chef Alexa Wilson landed a job as a corporate chef for Sysco Food Services, Connor was promoted from sous chef. He says he enjoys working with seafood. “Gluten-free is kind of a passion of mine too, because I’m gluten-free,” he says. “So I like to cater to that type of clientele.”
Current: Banquet Chef, Mirabeau Park Hotel First Gig: Spencer’s “I always cook by my mood,” says the younger Thornton brother. For example: “I’m trying to stay away from Asian. I’m tired of Asian fusion.”
Current: Chef, Latah Bistro | First Gig: Playfair Blaine says he’s become obsessed with creating food that speaks to the true nature of Spokane. “Casual without loss of quality, loss of creativity, but still approachable and without pretension,” he says. “That’s Spokane in a nutshell.”
Current: Owner/Head Chef, Sante Restaurant First Gig: The Mustard Seed (downtown) Hansen says his theme at Sante is “Eat globally, act locally; with French techniques and northwest products.”
Current: Executive Chef, Ambrosia Bistro First Gig: Latah Bistro Timmons, who worked as sous chef alongside David Blaine at Latah Bistro, “would say that less is more,” says Ambrosia owner, Scott Cook. “It’s about letting the quality of the ingredients shine, as opposed to hiding it with smoke and mirrors.”
Current: Chef/Co-Owner, Scratch (Cd’A and Spokane locations) | First Gig: Cosgroves “I used to be more Asian-influenced,” says Rex, who notes most of the former Fugazzi crew works at Scratch. “I still have that part of it, but I’m kind of transforming into more of an Italian inclusion.”
Current: Chef/Co-Owner, Italia Trattoria First Gig (in Spokane): Luna “I’m about simplicity; I like to bring flavors together,” says native of Switzerland. Vogel has a fondness for mushrooms, and likes to shake her menu up from month to month. “I feel that people trust me enough that they want to try new stuff. It’s not intimidating, they just decide they’re gonna trust me,” she says.
Current: Executive Chef, Luna Restaurant and Bouzies Bakery | First Gig: Gingham House “I like fall food,” says Hutchins. “I’m really into that — just the flavors, like winter squashes. The whole idea of having anything centered around the hearth, party fall fare. I’m into that sort of thing. I tend to roast a lot of squash.”
Current: Sous Chef, Luna | First Gig: Fugazzi Though abandoning the dietary confines of an herbivore, Brown was a vegetarian for a long time. He still enjoys concocting vegetarian-friendly dishes, preferring to use as much local produce as possible.
Current: Head Chef, The Game Sports Grill First Gig: The Davenport “I do a little bit of everything,” says Carrillo, who’s in the midst of reincarnating UNO Tapas Lounge as The Game Sports Grill. “I like everything from fish to pasta.”
Current: Chef/Owner, Moxie First Gig: Manito Country Club “Don’t start a restaurant,” Wingate jokes. He says his main priority is fresh, quality ingredients. “I try to do everything from scratch.”