Adam Hegsted – Restauranteur
November 28, 2016
Adam is a very successful chef and owner of several area restaurants including Yards Bruncheon, Le Catering Company, Eat Good Café, Wandering Table and the Gilded Unicorn, and The Cellar. Raised in Spokane, he moved to Seattle where he received degrees from the Inland Northwest Culinary Academy and the Art Institute of Seattle. He then moved back to Spokane and worked at a variety of restaurants where he learned to be a chef, while also learning the business side of the restaurant industry. Adam is the recipient of numerous awards, including Innovator of the Year from the National Beef Council and United Fresh. He has also been named as one of the 50 Most Influential People in Spokane, WA. Married with four children, Adam balances his busy career without ever losing focus on spending quality time with his family.
You seem to be very grounded in the Spokane/CDA area. With your education and training, you could have gone anywhere and been successful. Why did you choose to stay here in this area?
Originally I wanted to move to Portland or Seattle and have my career there, and every time I would leave and go to visit a city I would come back and get a sense that “Oh, this is home”. So, every time I left and came back I loved the feeling of being here. But, there was never a culinary scene here and my thoughts were “well, it’s hard to be successful when there isn’t anything here”. But then I thought “why not help be a catalyst for change and help grow something into something great?” I didn’t know if I could, but I wanted to help and start somewhere.
What was the biggest thing that promoted you to make that jump from being an employee to being an owner?
When I worked at the CDA Casino I learned a lot about the restaurant business, the actual business side of it. At some point I thought I knew enough to take the next step… and I wanted to get in there, and I thought if I could do it for myself and use the same business philosophies I had learned, I could run my own restaurant and decide what I wanted on the menu and create something different that you can’t really create unless you are the owner.
One of your focus areas at The Cellar and your other establishments is to focus on local producers and products. What has been your experience working with local suppliers, and what are the challenges and rewards of using this approach?
We want our restaurants to identify by region, and to do that is to use foods that are in season or grown here, so that when you come to our restaurants you feel like you are in a time and place and region; something unique. Some of the challenges are to find those relationships and figuring out who wants to supply us. Not every farmer wants to work with restaurants, they don’t always love doing it. It can be tough finding the suppliers to work with us and have enough product for us to use.
Do you preserve foods here?
Yeah, we do that. We will freeze stuff or put it into jams or sauces or compotes, as examples. Usually we can’t even get enough product to keep it for a long time.
What changes have you seen over the years regarding the local food scene?
It is just getting better all of the time. In the last five to seven years we are getting a lot more chef driven restaurants and restaurants that are really focused on food and hospitality. People are going there for an experience rather than just going there to eat. They are looking for something a little more unique.
What do you envision for the future of our local food system?
It is that relationship building so as the farmers feel more confident the chefs will buy more products on a regular basis and as the chefs feel more confident the farmers will be able to provide that and it just grows. So it just takes a little bit of time and trust.
What do you like to do with your free time…Wait, do you have free time?
Yes, I take two days off per week. And while I am busy every day I also try to spend quality time with my family. It is important to take the time that I have and make it quality time.