What happens when a farm-to-table chef loses his table?
That’s what happened to Brian Scheehser of Trellis restaurant at The Heathman Hotel, when a “catastrophic water main break” shut down the Kirkland building in May. It’s opening again today (Aug. 3) after two months of repairs and remodels.
I had to wonder how the closure affected Scheehser, who specializes in cooking with vegetables and fruits he’s personally grown at his acreage at the South 47 Farm. Did he keep the gardens and orchards going this summer? With no restaurant guests to feed, what did he do with the harvest?
Turns out Scheehser had “a great” two months. He kept on farming full-bore, even adding about 5 more acres to his fields (allowing for crop rotations) and four new greenhouses, bringing his total to 10. Some produce was donated to Hopelink, other ripe veggies were processed and frozen for the winter at nearby 21 Acres. The re-opening coincides with the peak of the harvest, and Scheehser’s taking advantage of it in a kitchen that’s not only been repaired, but remodeled and improved.
Trellis has a new walk-in cooler and a deep freezer “for all our berries and summer fruits we put up for the winter,” Scheehser said in an email. The root cellar will have separate cooling zones so it’s both fruit and veggie-friendly. A new deck pizza oven for flatbreads is being delivered later this month. And the pastry chef is getting new tools that have been on her list since the restaurant opened — a pastry sheeter, a chocolate tempering machine, a larger floor mixer, and other goodies.
The garden’s focus this year has been fresh use as well as “our winter pantry,” he said. They’re growing sunchokes and Ozette potatoes, they have 2 large fields of dried beans and winter squash, 100 new artichoke plants, 1,000 new strawberry plants (!), and two fields of sweet corn.
“Everything was started on the farm and will find a home in our restaurant throughout the year,” he said.
Look for it starting today — there will be a pent-up cornucopia of heirloom vegetables dominating the menu — and look in the kitchen for a very happy Scheehser, who noted that “Not every chef gets the chance to reopen his restaurant for a second time.”
File photo of Scheehser in the fields by Barry Wong/The Seattle Times.