A new event organized by the Spokane Culinary Arts Guild is peeling back the curtain of the region's hospitality industry for both staff in the kitchen and customers in the dining room.
The inaugural Our Side Hospitality Summit this weekend brings together local chefs, restaurant owners and bartenders to discuss current issues in the industry, along with stories of success.
"Hospitality requires such unique skills and personalities to deal with the stresses and struggles they deal with every day," says Culinary Arts Guild co-founder Erin Peterson. "We wanted to highlight the efforts they're putting forth and give them a platform to speak to issues that matter to people in the industry, and bring awareness to the consumer."
Peterson says she and other members of the guild have been dreaming up the event for three years. It was partly inspired by the format of TED Talks, which feature experts giving short presentations based on unique insights and experiences. As with TED events, once the Our Side Summit is over, videos of each presenter's keynote will be uploaded for those who didn't get a chance to listen in person, she notes.
"That was hugely important to us, and as we designed the event we really wanted to gear it towards industry professionals," many of whom aren't able to attend due to their work schedules, she notes.
Our Side's schedule includes seven presentations from industry professionals, a panel discussion, and breaks for food. Lunch by chef Chad White of Zona Blanca, High Tide Lobster Bar and TT's Old Iron Brewery is planned to feature one dish from each of White's three local establishments. During a mid-morning break, guests will be treated to a brunch-themed charcuterie board from Wanderlust Delicato, a newly opened wine, cheese and charcuterie shop in downtown Spokane.
Peterson invited a diverse mix of experts to present at Our Side to share their perspectives and knowledge. Kicking off the morning is a presentation by Indaba Coffee Roaster owner Bobby Enslow on using small businesses to help inspire social and community change.
Luna's head bartender Cody Winfrey, meanwhile, is offering an afternoon cocktail demonstration and sharing how he learned how to navigate the ever-changing world of social media after his Disney princess-themed cocktail recipes went viral several years ago.
Winfrey's colleague at Luna, executive chef Joe Morris, is also presenting and sharing how he's helped his staff in the kitchen overcome and learn from negative customer feedback.
"His role is not just to produce good food, but to encourage his staff," Peterson notes.
As of this writing, Peterson says the split of attendees is about 50/50 between members of the restaurant industry and the general public. A handful of tickets remain, out of 100 total released. She hopes to grow that number as the event continues in years to come.
"I really would like to see this event become an opportunity for leadership within our region," she says. "We have so many great products, restaurants and innovative professionals. To give them the opportunity to be celebrated is really important." ♦
Our Side Hospitality Summit • Sun, Oct. 20 from 10 am-2:30 pm • $40 • 21+ • Washington Cracker Co. (Haven Real Estate office, third floor) • 304 W. Pacific • bit.ly/2IS3Ac5