An experience foodies will crave

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LOREN BENOIT/Press Viljo Basso, owner and operator of Syringa and the Bluebird Restaurant in midtown, delicately places blackberry wine sauce over duck breast and shredded Brussels sprouts Wednesday. Several North Idaho chefs will be participating in the Crave Food and Drink Celebration, an inaugural event June 15-18, to highlight the culinary talents of the Inland Northwest.

Take the delicious vision of Chef Adam Hegsted, combine with a healthy serving of talent and sprinkle with a generous portion of fun events.

Yield: The debut Crave Northwest Food and Drink Celebration.

"It's going to be a unique experience," said Chef Viljo Basso, owner of Syringa and the Bluebird in Coeur d'Alene. "You're going to get some foodies in there and really showcase what people in this area can do."

Crave Northwest — which starts June 15 and goes through Father's Day, June 18 — is a culinary event featuring several Inland Northwest chefs. The North Idaho talent includes Basso, David Adlard of Candle in the Woods, Angelo Martini of Angelo's Ristorante, Matthew Mayer of the Farmhouse Kitchen and Silo Bar, Bardenay's Nick Mikkelson, Rick Reichelt of Anthony's at Coeur d'Alene, the Club at Black Rock's Dan Smith, Coeur d'Alene Casino's Steve Walk and Laurent Zirotti of Fleur de Sel.

Crave will be held at CenterPlace Regional Event Center at Mirabeau Point Park, 2426 N. Discovery Place in Spokane Valley.

The food fest will also feature guest chefs from across the U.S. and Canada who will host demonstrations and workshops. These internationally acclaimed chefs include Bruce Sherman of North Pond in Chicago, Rick Moonen of RM Seafood and RX Boiler Room in Las Vegas, Trevor Bird of Fable in Vancouver, B.C., and more. "California Cuisine" icon Jeremiah Towers of Stars in San Franciso will make a special appearance next Saturday.

"There are some star chefs that are going there," Basso said. "It's an opportunity to meet and greet and see what they're doing in places like Chicago, California, Seattle. We don't get that unless you fly somewhere or are really into the scene."

Regional wineries and breweries will also have a place at the Crave table, as will the food exhibitors and purveyors who will present a variety of offerings.

Thursday will feature a seafood bash from 6-9 p.m., celebrating fresh fish, shellfish, caviar and champagne. Tickets are $75 for this event.

Friday is a grand tasting day, where guests will have access to samples from chefs, exhibitors and beverage providers from 1-5 p.m. for $35 per ticket. The day will also include the global flavors of a street food market with a Carnivale theme. Tickets are $65 for this event.

Another grand tasting event will be held Saturday from 1-5 p.m. for $35 per ticket. A Fire and Smoke barbecue extravaganza with live cultural entertainment by The Coeur d'Alene Tribe is $55 per ticket and goes from 6-9 p.m.

The Father's Day Brunch, a family-friendly event, will be June 18 (Sunday) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All events are for those 21 and older, except the Father's Day Brunch.

"I'm very excited for it," said Mikkelson, who will present a special dish of Vietnamese chicken wings when he participates in the street food fair. "I think it's a cool thing Adam is putting together and I'm glad he thought about me."

Mikkelson said he's looking forward to networking with the other chefs.

"I'm really stoked to meet all the other guys and see what they're doing," he said. "It will be a fun time."

Basso, who will present Japanese street fare at the Friday market, said Crave will give people a chance to try new things as well as learn some kitchen secrets.

"People love to say, 'I know the chef,' or, 'I know how they do that,'" Basso said. "We're all that way. We're curious creatures."

Crave's culinary director, Hegsted, lives in Coeur d'Alene and runs several restaurants in Spokane. He said he's looking forward to the excitement of the Carnivale entertainment and the traditional dance the Tribe will be presenting.

He's also looking forward to spicing up the Inland Northwest's expanding culinary scene.

"I think that our progress of a culinary movement has been moving forward, and it keeps getting better and better," he said. "This is one of those things that keeps the ball rolling and the momentum going.

"I'm pretty excited. To be able to have that many chefs, wineries and breweries, all these great people from the Northwest under one roof is pretty awesome."

Proceeds from Crave will benefit Second Harvest and Big Table, two nonprofits dedicated to fighting hunger and strengthening relationships in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

Info and tickets: www.cravenw.com

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