Needing a getaway? Feeling hungry? Curious about what culinary explorations await on the eastern side of the Cascades? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, pack your bags, fill up the tank and put on the cruise control until you hit Spokane Valley, Washington, for Crave NW, the Inland Northwest’s premier food and drink celebration on July 12-15 at the CenterPlace Regional Event Center.
Presented by the City of Spokane Valley, this epicurean carnivale offers four days of local cuisine from talented Northwest chefs, showcased in a variety of events, packages and ways to explore. Here are five reasons why this second-year event is worth sinking your teeth into.
1) There will be more food and more events to eat it at. Last year’s inaugural attendees spoke and Crave heard them: more chefs, more stations and more food will be available at this year’s festival, from the Grand Tastings to the extra affairs. Wanting a few recommendations? Check out Thursday’s Seafood Bash, where crustaceans, mollusks and fish alike will be plated — from fresh ahi and crab to sockeye salmon and octopus — to the tune of live jazz and a live demo of Zona Blanca‘s Chef Chad White creating his famous octopus ceviche before the party kicks off. Tickets are $85. On Friday night, snag tickets to the Global Street Foods Carnivale which promises delicacies like pork banh, beef tartare, gai stay, braised lamb and bone marrow tater tots, showcasing cuisines from around the world, all paired with wines from the Cork District wineries. Tickets are $65.
2) Celebrity chefs are in tow. The aforementioned Chad White, of Bravo’s “Top Chef” fame, will be in attendance alongside Crave creator and fellow star chef Adam Hegsted of Spokane’s Eat Good Group. Heaps of the Inland Northwest’s hottest culinary names will be there, like Jesse Klott of the Gilded Unicorn, Steve Jensen of Craft & Gather and Travis Dickinson of Cochinito Taqueria. Not to mention chefs making the trek over the mountains like Brian Clevenger of General Harvest Restaurants; John Sundstrom of Lark and newly minted James Beard Award winner Edouardo Jordan of Salare and JuneBaby.
3) You have two chances to attend the Grand Tasting. Find your inner gourmand while on a walk-about here, sampling food purveyors, wineries, breweries and distilleries at this two-day tasting, both days running from 1-4 p.m. Experience this forum of Northwest cheffing with on-stage demos from different chefs each day on the main stage inside, while the vendors are outside under tents to soak up the summer with fresh food. Grand Tasting tickets are $40 each day, or $65 for the two-day package.
4) You can dance off all the calories you ingested at the after party. DJ Unifest pumps up the jams with craft cocktails and small bites from Le Catering at this super cheap ($5) after-hours dance party with many of the chefs making appearances. Be sure to snag one of them for a picture opp in the photo booth.
5) Crave gives back. The multi-day gastronomic festival benefits Second Harvest Inland Northwest and Spokane Valley Partners. A nonprofit that fights hunger and feeds hope, Second Harvest brings community resources together to feed people in need through empowerment, education and partnerships. Spokane Valley Partners provides food, clothing and other basic needs to low-income families, offering help in empowering them to achieve and sustain self-sufficiency.