Dinner at FareStart
As you are aware, I am a big fan of FareStart. A few weeks ago Jen from FareStart invited a few of us to come to a Thursday night dinner and get more detailed information about the program. Since I hadn’t looked at the "official" information in a while I thought this was a good chance to get caught up on FareStart’s progress. And we would be given a tour of the kitchen as the guest chef prepared dinner and trained FareStart students – what a great opportunity! On Thursday, my friend E (Iron Chef Host) and I made our way to the FareStart Restaurant at 1902 2nd Ave. There we met up with Molly (Orangette) and her friend, Keaton.
As I’ve mentioned, one of the reasons I like FareStart and one of the reasons I think it’s such a successful program (80% success rate) is that the program not only teaches the students work skills but also helps them with life skills. In my mind, this is a key part of the program. Students are given the tools to earn a living and the tools to fit into society. Over the last ten years they’ve helped 1500 people. The number per year has been increasing, I believe 300 people went through the program last year. And they are currently in progress of building out a new, much larger facility that will allow them to greatly increase the number of students they serve each year.
One of the things that really hit home on Thursday was how the helping one program or group has a bigger impact. They currently prepare 2500 meals per day; last year they served over 600,000 meals. Many of these 2500 meals go to low-income child centers, homeless shelters, and senior centers who contract with FareStart. The FareStart students prepare the meals in their facility and then they are delivered to the various centers around the city. This is such a great deal! The students get more practice, the homeless get fed.
In addition to shelter meals, the students serve lunch at the FareStart restaurant Monday – Friday – if you work downtown or can make it downtown this is a great way to support the program. They assist with the Thursday night dinners, they work at cafés at the Downtown Seattle Library and at the 2100 Building in Ranier Valley, which serves building tenants and is open to the public.
Through these services, the students raise about 40% of the revenue for the program. The other 60% comes from donations and various fundraisers throughout the year. (Both Taste Washington and Taste of the Nation contribute to FareStart.) But one of the easiest and tastiest ways to support this program is by making a reservation and eating at one of the Thursday night Guest Chef Nights.
On these nights the Guest Chef and their restaurant donate all food and the chef takes the opportunity to use the evening as training for the students. (As a side note many of these chefs end up hiring graduates once they graduate.) If you attend one of these dinners the cost for the meal, your beverage and the tip all go directly to the program. The base cost of the meal is $19.95 for three courses! Bargain! Especially when you consider how much a meal at one of these chef’s restaurants would cost.
On Thursday our chef was Dave Miller from the Jolly Roger Taproom at the Maritime Pacific Brewery. Our meal started with mixed greens topped with miso halibut cheeks. The halibut cheeks were lovely – the miso enhancing the delicate halibut flavor. Both E and I had the pork main course, although a vegetarian option was also available. Our dinner consisted of lime-seared pork tenderloin, on a bed of sweet shoestring onion rings accompanied by roasted-corn masa wrapped in a green pasilla chile. A trio of beer-based sauces (Salmon Bay E.S.B. piri-piri, Bosun’s Black Porter salsa negra, and Islander Pale Ale chimichurri) were distributed around the plate. While it was all great (the pork was tender, the masa soft and light) the onions might have been my favorite part of the dish! :-)
Portions are very generous – I had not been able to finish either my salad or my entrée. However, for the sake of research and reporting to you I forced myself to take a stab at the dessert course! This, too, was a combination of contrasts. A small dense butter cake was topped with habenero ice cream with browned peaches and broken caramel. I loved the ice cream, although a couple people at the table thought it was a bit too hot.
All in all it was a fine meal and a great experience. I encourage you to take advantage of this program. They are making a real impact in the community and through these meals they support a significant amount of the program themselves – not many 501c3s can say that. So make a reservation and maybe I’ll see you there!
1902 Second Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101