“Comfort foods have always been my passion,” says Jed Laprade, Executive Chef at Beardslee Public House. “They put meat on your bones, satisfies the heart and warms the belly like nothing else can on a cold, rainy Seattle day. I still love the food I grew up with – like mac-and-cheese, pizza and burgers – and I always enjoy presenting these same, basic comfort foods to our guests at Beardslee in a way that makes it extra special.”
The craft brewery-cum-restaurant is as well-known for it’s scratch-cuisine philosophy as it is for its special craft beers. Locally-produced beverages go hand-in-hand with a local-inspired cuisine here, creating a complete dining experience that is comforting, farm fresh and seasonal.
Staying seasonal, however, is easier said than done. The variety of produce really dries up during the winter months in the Pacific Northwest, and Chef Laprade has had to work really hard to keep his menus exciting all year round without sacrificing his commitment to fresh, homegrown ingredients.
“We use quite a bit of Pacific Northwest fish, meat, poultry and produce in our recipes,” he says. “All the pork we use for sausages and other charcuterie we make in-house is sourced from a group of farms I really like in Idaho. We also use fresh Northwest chicken, which though twice as expensive, is a lot more robust in taste and texture.”
Like other restaurants in the John Howie group, Beardslee is exacting in its standards when it comes to sourcing. “Throughout my entire career, I have worked with and trusted a company called Charlie’s Produce,” says Laprade. “They do a great job with everything from conventional to organic to local. But recently, I discovered Brian Scheehser, a produce supplier who is both farmer and chef, and this relationship has caused quite an excitement in my kitchen!”
Scheehser was an Eastside chef who raised a small farm to supply his own restaurant. When he discovered he enjoyed farming more than working in a kitchen, he started a small, commercial farm not five miles from where Beardslee is located. And guaranteed Chef Laprade that he would be serving ingredients that had probably been picked the same day!
“Brian Scheehser brought his seed books over last winter, and we sat down for a chef-to-farmer talk in a way I had never done before,” he remembers. “I could tell him exactly what I wanted to do – like pickling my own cucumbers and carrots and getting my hands on different kinds of green beans and lettuce – and Scheehser could tell me exactly what to expect. I have been using fresh, seasonal produce for a long time now, but this was at a whole new level. I was talking to the farmer before he literally put my order in the ground, and I knew exactly what I would be getting for my proposed recipes!”
While farm-to-table is gaining a lot of popularity these days among customers who genuinely care about reducing carbon footprint and consuming local, organic food without preservatives and harmful chemicals, for chefs like Jed Laprade, it is a deep commitment to their craft.
“It makes a world of difference to the whole dining experience when ingredients are picked perhaps hours before guests find them on their plates,” he says. “Instead of wilting for weeks during transport in trucks and boats, and then waiting to ripen in a warehouse somewhere far away, our ingredients are allowed to ripen on the vines. When they are ready for picking, they are harvested and we can cook these ingredients while they’re at their peak of taste and nutritional value.”
This is the ethos of Beardslee, and what sets this eatery apart from most other upscale restaurants in the Bothell area. “We’re proud of our Pacific Northwest roots and we’re deeply connected with our heritage and history. From our restaurant design to our craft beer and food – the experience we offer at Beardslee is authentic to our locality and I am always excited by how much customers appreciate this commitment as well, with their continued support and patronage.”