Since 2007, when McMenamins bought the old Elks Temple, Tacoma, Washington, has collectively held its breath waiting to see what would create. The McMenamin brothers, Mike and Brian, take old buildings and magically transform them into boutique hotels, restaurants, bars and concert venues — the Elks Temple has all four. Before that happened, the project was delayed because of the recession, rising cost estimates and when competing buildings took priority.

Finally, this past April, McMenamins Elks Temple opened to the fanfare of delighted crowds and a massive exhale that could be heard all over T-Town. The wait no longer mattered because we had a new place to stay, drink, be entertained and best of all, to eat.

Chosen for the position of executive chef, Michael Jordan most recently masterminded the kitchen at El Gaucho in Bellevue, Washington. Chef Michael also taught at the Seattle Culinary Academy at Seattle Central College.

Now, Chef Michael oversees a culinary staff of between 75 to 100 in five different restaurants and bars — McMenamins Pub, Spanish Bar, The Old Hangout, Brewery Tasting Room and Bottle Shop and the Vault, which is their hidden bar. When asked what the biggest challenges he faced when opening a new McMenamins, he said, “The challenges include the newness of the situation, a new city, building and new clientele; but in a couple of months we’ll have our repertoire down pat.”

When Sip Northwest sat down with Chef Michael, he’d just returned from the Broadway Farmers Market in downtown Tacoma and was brimming with excitement about the farmers in attendance, their fresh local produce and the relationships he hoped to build with them.

Chef Michael graciously shared the recipe for steamer clams, served in the Pub, using Edgefield (another McMenamins location) White Rabbit Wine. He suggested home cooks sprinkle chopped fresh parsley over the clams after they’re placed in the bowl.

Steamer Clams

Serves 2 as an appetizer

Ingredients for the clams

1 pound hard-shelled fresh clams
2 tablespoons White Rabbit-Herb Butter (recipe follows)
½ cup White Rabbit Clam Broth (recipe follows)
½ each Sourdough Cannonball, scored and served in basket on the side
1 ounce garlic-parmesan butter
1 teaspoon Italian parsley, chopped
1 each lemon wedge

For the White Rabbit Clam Broth

¼ cup clam base
3 quarts Edgefield White Rabbit Wine
1 quart hot water

Dissolve the base concentrate in the hot water and add the wine.

For the White Rabbit-Herb Butter

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh sage
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup fresh basil
½ cup fresh Italian parsley
¼ cup White Rabbit Wine
1 pound butter, room temperature
½ cup roasted garlic

Clean herbs and rough chop.

Add herbs to food processor, pulse with white wine.

Add softened butter to food processor.

Rough chop roasted garlic, add to food processor and mix.

Remove using a spatula and place in center of sheet of plastic wrap and form a 3-inch butter log and wrap tightly.

Directions for the clams

In a sauté pan, add clams, White Rabbit-Herb Butter and White Rabbit Clam Broth.

Place another sauté pan over the top and steam clams over medium heat until the clams open.

Score Sourdough Cannonball and spread with garlic-parmesan butter. Place in oven for 3 minutes.

Transfer the clams to a bowl, return the pan to a burner and reduce the liquid slightly for about 30 seconds.

Pour broth over clams, garnish with parsley and lemon wedge.