Chef Jeremy Hansen of Santé Restaurant & Charcuterie wielded his expensive Japanese knife as he sought out the best cuts of the farm fresh pig on the stainless steel table before him. He was not only demonstrating how to break down the half-pig, but how to find the best cut possible for a special pancetta. The cold case upstairs in his light-filled restaurant was close to empty. It was time to bring cured charcuterie upstairs and to create more cuts to be seasoned and aged in the cases and coolers in the basement of the 100-year-old Spokane, Washington, building.
Hansen, executive chef, owner, and butcher extraordinaire at Santé is as particular about the cut of meat he uses as where the pig is sourced. Santé means “health” in French and the meats delivered to his restaurant by local farmers are raised using sustainable, grain-free and organic farming methods. Chef Hansen knows exactly where his meats come from and how they’re raised.
This careful food chain became evident when we met Rocky Ridge Ranch owner, Gary Angell, who had delivered four half-pigs to Santé earlier in the day. He told us that Rocky Ridge, in addition to providing meats and micro-greens to chefs like Hansen, operates three CSAs (community-supported agriculture, co-ops for people to pre-purchase farm fresh products) and was opening a farm stand. He was dedicated to bringing food to the public directly from the local farm.
As an aside, he also told me, “Chef Hansen really means it when he says he buys locally. He isn’t just giving lip service to the concept like some others.”
Creatively Using Every Scrap
Chef Hansen deftly cut through the pig and told us how he uses all of the animal for bacon, sausage, stock and more. Ribs are saved for a special barbecue during Spokane’s Hoopfest. By using the entire animal, Hansen not only saves money, he is able to maximize his creativity and that of his staff. They cook and create menus collaboratively. His menus are not just seasonal, they are changed daily depending on what’s available in the restaurant and from the farms. He looks for passion in the people he hires. With that passion comes a desire to create innovative dishes, including charcuterie for the cold case upstairs.
Hansen is a Le Cordon Bleu–trained chef, and he and his crew were recently invited to cook dinner at the James Beard House in New York City. The James Beard Foundation (JBF) promotes the culinary arts by honoring chefs, wine professionals, journalists, and cookbook authors at annual award ceremonies. As part of this process, JBF invites chefs from across the continent to come and cook dinner at their headquarters in New York City. Now nationally known, Chef Hansen and his staff continue to show the same enthusiasm and creativity as they season and age meats for the charcuterie case, develop menus for the six-person wine dinners, and arrange charcuterie plates for the restaurant customers.
I was privileged to sample some of Chef Hansen’s offerings. From bacon to mortadella and smoked sausage to fine cheeses, what was brought before us to try, was unique and totally delicious. And the “catsup” and mustard served alongside the charcuterie was surprising as well. Chef Hansen makes his own, of course.
Santé Restaurant & Charcuterie, located in and up-and-coming area of downtown Spokane, is an intimate restaurant with French bistro atmosphere. There is also an adjoining bar. With an upscale convention hotel being built close-by, it won’t be long until this restaurant will be consistently full. If you want healthy, locally-sourced food with a creative French flair, be sure and plan for a meal at Santé when visiting the Inland Northwest town of Spokane. – by Elizabeth Rose, RFT Contributor
If You Go
Santé Restaurant & Charcuterie
404 W Main Ave, Spokane, WA 99201
More Information www.visitspokane.com