Satisfy Your Craving for Local Food and Drink

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Posted by Staci Lehman on July 11, 2018, noon

If you’re craving good food, local coffee, craft cocktails, regional beer and wines and local entertainment, then CRAVE Northwest is the event for you.

“You’re going to be more full and entertained than you’ve ever been,” said Tom Stebbins, co-owner of Vision Marketing with wife Karen, and organizer the annual culinary event.

The premier food and drink celebration is July 12-15 at CenterPlace Regional Event Center at Mirabeau Point Park in Spokane Valley. CRAVE showcases the talents of local, regional and national chefs and culinary professionals.

Crave NW demonstration stage

“We have 15 chefs and 15 wineries for each day of the event this year,” said Tom.

“We have celebrity chefs from out of town who do demonstrations,” added Karen, “We have Brian Duffy who is hysterical.”

Duffy is known for appearances on the Spike TV series Bar Rescue and the Food Network’s “Date Plate.” Other celebrity chefs include Hugh Acheson of the reality cooking show “Top Chef”; Matthias Merges, Owner and Chef of Yusho Restaurant in Chicago; and Jeff Bonilla, who has appeared on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.”

Local and regional chefs participate too, including Adam Hegsted, owner of the local Eat Good Group of restaurants and CRAVE’s Culinary Director. Hegsted is a past semifinalist for the James Beard Award (called the “Academy Awards of food” by Karen Stebbins), along with fellow CRAVE participant, Felipe Hernandez of Los Hernandez Tamales in Union Gap, Wash.

Crave NW dish

Another CRAVE chef, Travis Dickinson, who opened restaurant Conchita Taqueria this year in downtown Spokane, says what he likes about the event is that it’s not competitive, but rewarding for all.

“That’s one of the most refreshing things about it to me. There’s a handful of people working together to try to grow the food culture,” Dickinson said. “We have a pretty quickly growing food community and CRAVE shows how exciting it is right now.”

Now in its second year, CRAVE has some new events. Foods from Around the World Night will include international selections that would require visits to multiple restaurants to normally try.

“They bring their own cultural slant to it,” said Karen Stebbins of the participating chefs. “They each cook their specialties.” 

The Fire and Smoke barbecue extravaganza on Saturday, July 14 will be accompanied by drummers and dancers from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, followed by a special after party, which is included in the ticket price.

Tasters at Crave NW

“Come connect with the chefs, dance and have a blast with us at CenterPlace!,” said Karen. “There will be music by DJ Unifest CO. Food and spirits will be available.”

The next morning you can treat your after party hangover with a Sunday Brunch. Also on Sunday (Saturday as well) is another new event – the Grand Tasting.

“If you’re only going to go to one thing, go to the Grand Tasting,” said Tom.

That’s because the Grand Tasting offers dozens of food samples of all varieties and tastings from wineries, breweries and distilleries. It also includes an International Chef forum with on-stage demos.

Back by popular demand this year is the Thursday night Seafood Bash, a feast of fresh fish, shellfish, caviar and champagne.

If it’s too hard to choose just a few events, the CRAVE Weekend Taste Package gets you into six CRAVE events, where you won’t just eat good, but also drink good.

“The Spokane Cork District is doing all the wine Friday night, so we will pair all the wines with the meal” said Karen. “There’s also beer for the beer drinkers.”

“Bad Ass Barware will be doing all our mixology,” added Tom. “Every main event has a craft cocktail.”

“It has everything,” said Karen of CRAVE. “Food, distillers, cheese, chocolate, ice cream…”

But why a food event?

“Spokane is growing in the culinary world. This is a way to celebrate all our chef-owned restaurants,” said Karen.

Crave NW brunch

Chef Travis Dickinson agrees, and says it draws a different crowd than other local food events.

“It’s people from all different walks of life,” he said. “There’s more than just samples. There are interesting classes, educational opportunities and cool demonstrations that bring in all kinds of people.”

For more information, visit CRAVE Northwest.

Photos courtesy of CRAVE.