By Adriana Janovich
Jeremy Hansen was in New York City helping a friend open a restaurant when he got the call. A headhunter looking to fill an executive chef position wondered if the Spokane chef might be interested in moving to Philadelphia. Two months later, he was driving across the country.
Hansen has been heading up the kitchens at Fork and its next-door sister-establishment, High Street on Market, in Old City since mid-August. Spokane’s loss is Philly’s gain.
Hansen, born and raised in Spokane, and his wife, Kate, became culinary leaders in the Inland Northwest when they opened their first restaurant, Santé, in 2008. They went on to establish Common Crumb Artisan Bakery, Biscuit Wizard, Hogwash Whiskey Den and Inland Pacific Kitchen—along with the charitable endeavor 509cooks. They also caught the attention of the James Beard Foundation along the way. Hansen was a semifinalist for the foundation’s best chef Northwest award in 2015. And he’s cooked at the James Beard House three times—in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
Here, Hansen discusses his departure and says goodbye—at least for now—to his hometown.
I came here to check it out and fell in love with the city. There’s a lot of history and the food scene is exploding on a national level. It felt like the perfect fit. And when opportunities open up that make sense, you’ve got to take them.
What influenced your decision?
I want to be in a big hustle-and-bustle kind of place. I want to be in the middle of the craziness, cooking for 150 to 200 people a night. I crave that as a chef and you don’t get that in Spokane. I’ll always be thankful for Spokane and what it allowed me to do. It led me here, and I don’t regret any of it. I have a high respect and love for the city; now I’m growing a new respect and love for another one.
What’s it like working for someone else after being your own boss for so long?
It doesn’t feel like I missed a step or am stepping down. I still have the sense of responsibility I did as an owner. I still have the sense of pride and respect for the industry I did as an owner. This feels like an accomplishment. It’s moving forward.
What are your current favorite ingredients?
Barley miso, sansho peppercorns and sweet peppers like Long Hots and Jimmy Nardellos. It’s fun to experiment with them. They have different flavors and degrees of spiciness.
What do you miss most about Spokane?
I miss the people, the chefs, my friends. There are some places that just opened—or are about to open—that I haven’t gotten to eat at yet. I’m excited to see what comes next.
How would you describe your impact on Spokane’s food scene?
I think what my wife and I did opened up a lot of doors for a lot of people. It let other chefs see there is opportunity to cook their own style of food and open up a chef-focused restaurant in Spokane. They weren’t afraid to; they just didn’t think there was a market for it. We helped created a buzz for the next generation of restaurants and a better food scene for Spokane. We’re proud to be a part of that.
Would you consider coming back to Spokane?
It’s not off the table.