Tundra Restaurant Supply and its panel of Dreamstaurant judges, including Chef Kelly Liken, Chef Ian Kleinman and VP of Tundra Design Group - Jeff Katz are delighted to announce the winner of the “What’s Your Dreamstaurant Contest”: Chef Adam Hegsted of Spokane, WA.
We were very pleased with the overall response to the contest and the number of entries received made the judging process tougher than we had ever expected. When picking the winner, the judges evaluated the strength of each finalist on the following criteria:
- Market Potential
- Scope of Project
- Creativity of Concept
- Social Response
- Financial Backing
- Strength of Business Plan
- Contestant Experience
Hegsted’s scores outpaced the other finalists, and our judges felt his concept held a broad appeal. They loved the idea of fresh wood-fired tapas with an American spin, an underground supper club and house made cocktails and specialty drinks. All of the menu items served in the restaurant will be sourced from within 500 miles away – using primarily local farmers and producers – and some imported Spanish wines.
The $20,000 grand prize package Hegsted will receive, includes design services and credit to eTundra.com – sponsored by Cambro, T&S Brass and Comark Instruments. Tundra is anxious to see Hegsted’s dream restaurant, Wood Smoke, bloom into the profitable hip restaurant we presume it will be.
You can continue to follow Adam’s story – from design to restaurant opening – on Tundra’s Back Burner blog.
Interview with Chef Adam Hegsted
Q: Where were you born?
A: Spokane, WA
Q: Do you have a nickname?
A: Unfortunately my nickname is Andy Cane. I had an employee who couldn’t remember my name and kept calling me Andy. It eventually turned into Andy Cane.
Q: What is something people may not know about you?
A: I have won over 20 local, national, and international food competitions in the last 6 years.
Q: Do you have any hobbies – what do you like to do when you’re not at work?
A: I try to spend as much time with my family as possible and I love to cook. Cooking is not only my profession, but is my hobby as well. So hand in hand with that is eating, traveling and trying new places. It’s what I do, and when I’m not doing that, I’m reading about cooking.
Q: Do you have a favorite food? If you could only eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: That would be tough. I love so many different aspects of other cultures' foods. I guess if I had to choose one type it would probably be Japanese. It has a natural subtleness to it that I think would rarely get boring.
Q: How did you get into the cooking profession?
A: I have always had a love for cooking and food but washing dishes is where my career started. As a dishwasher, you always look up to the cooks and aspire to be one. Then when I was a cook, I just kept wanting something more. I kept moving up, trying new positions and learning as much as possible. There is such a vast amount of knowledge out there making it hard to stop. That’s why I love it!
Q: How long have you been a chef and where have you worked?
A: 11 years. I started at Marie Callenders where I learned ways to teach corporate scratch cooking. I cooked at the Space Needle, Ridpath Hotel in Spokane, Black Rock Club, Cedar’s Floating Restaurant, apprenticed at the Los Angeles City Club, Brix Restaurant in Coeur d’ Alene, and then to the Coeur d’ Alene Casino, running 8 different concepts.
Q: How did you find out about the Dreamstaurant contest?
A: I read it on a restaurant social media site. I thought, why not, who wouldn’t want to open their dream restaurant?
Q: What did you think when you made it to the final 5?
A: I was definitely excited. After entering, I kind of forgot about it to an extent, so finding out I was a finalist was a wonderful surprise.
Q: What avenues did you take to get people to vote for you through the Dreamstaurant Facebook app?
A: I did everything I could. I voted, family and friends voted and I put it on my blog. Then the newspaper picked it up, two news stations, and a local magazine. It just kept growing from there. It was really nice to see how much support I received.
Q: How did you find out you were the Dreamstaurant winner?
A: My phone actually died and I was the last one to know! I plugged my phone in and had 7 voice mails and 18 text messages. I figured out after that.
Q: What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?
A: I thought wow, this is really happening and I am going to have a great team to work with. I actually felt very lucky and felt really blessed having so much support for my idea.
Q: What are the next steps - when do you plan on breaking ground for your new restaurant, Wood Smoke?
A: The next step is to start planning with the Etundra team, then talk to the architect and get the restaurant design down on paper. We will be breaking ground in late spring.
Q: Do you have an open date in mind?
A: If everything goes right we hope to be open in September. You never really know how things are going to go, but that’s the timeline.
Q: We see you’re getting married. What’s the date? (We're just being nosey!)
A: We don’t have a date set, but probably in Late Spring. We want to work out getting married in Italy.