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Chef Spotlight: Seven questions and a recipe with Jesse Nickerson of Manito Tap House

September 18, 2018

Chef Jesse Nickerson is the new executive chef at Manito Tap House.

He came to Spokane from Coeur d’Alene, where he was the head chef at the popular Bistro on Spruce. The 36-year-old chef is originally from Boise, where he worked in a high-end Italian restaurant. Italian and Italian-Latin fusion are his specialties. He’s been cooking professionally for 20 years.

Nickerson loves cooking Italian food and dreams of making ramen from scratch. Here, he shares his go-to ingredients and a recipe that spotlights them.

What’s your favorite dish to cook at home? My favorite dish to cook at home is anything Italian. I love fresh, homemade pasta and sauces.

Where do you eat when you eat out? I am new to Spokane so I don’t have a favorite yet but I am enjoying exploring the food scene here. There are a lot of talented chefs in the area and I’d like to try all of their food.

Who or what inspired you to become a chef, and how? My inspiration comes from my father and brother, who were both chefs. My father instilled in me a drive and work ethic while my brother taught me how to make work fun and use it as a creative avenue.

What are your go-to ingredients? My go-to ingredients are usually wild mushrooms, bacon and thyme. I harvest wild mushrooms in the area, and they have quickly become a favorite.

What was the first dish a customer ever sent back to you, and how did you handle it? It’s been so long since my first return. Usually I am too busy to ever be offended. I always try to make the customer happy by re-making their food or making them something they want.

What’s a dish you’ve never made but would like to, and why? The dish I’ve never made and want to is a classic ramen. I’ve made versions but I would love to actually love to spend the time making a real ramen – with both the noodles and the broth – from scratch.

What dish or ingredient best represents you? I would say my spirit ingredient is black garlic. I fell in love with the first whiff, and when I learned how to make it, it somehow found its way into everything.

Wild Mushroom Bruschetta

From Jesse Nickerson

1/4 cup diced bacon

2 cup wild mushrooms (chanterelles are my favorite)

2 teaspoons black garlic puree

2 ounces whiskey

1/2 cup stock

1/4 cup diced tomatoes

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup Parmesan

8 slices grilled baguette

1 egg, soft poached

Freshly cracked pepper

Saute bacon until crispy, set aside and reserve bacon fat. Cook wild mushrooms in reserved bacon fat until mushrooms are slightly browned.

Add garlic and bacon, and stir. Deglaze with whiskey and simmer until almost dry, then add stock, reducing by two-thirds. Add tomatoes and fresh thyme and cook 1 minute, then remove from heat and stir in butter and half of the Parmesan.

Place baguettes in a circle on plate and pour mushrooms in the middle. Top mushroom mixture with poached egg and remaining Parmesan. Garnish with freshly cracked pepper.

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