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The Marc

Chef Grant Hinderliter rules

The Marc restaurant at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla has a history of doing things right. Good seasonal food, beautiful presentation, good service even when the restaurant and the Vineyard Lounge are full and they're catering to hundreds down the hall or offsite. In 2016, Grant Hinderliter took over as executive chef; he's been with the Marcus Whitman since April of 2011. While maintaining all that's good, he's also come up with some great new ideas.

Restaurant Manager/Sommerlier Dan McCaffrey at Chef's Table

The Chef's Table has been happening for some time and is now booked four nights a week. Accommodating up to 11, the table sits in an indentation right off the kitchen. Guests feel part of all the action (eight cooks on a busy night), watching as each course is made, then delivered to their table. Restaurant/Lounge Manager and Sommelier Dan McCaffrey works with Grant to create a multi-course paired dinner. Larger groups can enjoy the meal elsewhere in the hotel, maybe even at a communal table in the lobby (up to 75). Guests can choose four, five, or six courses.

Their Sunset Terrace is used for private outdoor dining all year, but last year they started the Evening on the Terrace Summer Dining Series. "We'll have a theme and guest winemakers; we can seat up to 30. This year we've done a few  dinners already, with July and August coming up. It's really special to sit outside in the shade of the hotel as the sun goes down."

Sunset Terrace dinner

Everything is fresh and as seasonal as possible, and Grant has gone ultra-local on products, using Washington-sourced seafood from Penn Cove and Taylor Shellfish. Preserving in-house is something he started years ago and has now ramped up. "There's something we've preserved in every dish we do," he says. A friend brought Clementine's to him recently and he has made 300 pounds of marmalade to use in all the Chef's Tables meals, probably for the year. As an example, he'll offer caramelized espresso farmers cheese with berries, hibiscus honey, hazelnut, and the marmalade. They've also started their own line of jams and jellies and make their own lavache.  

They're thinking about putting beehives on the roof so they'll have their own honey to use, and they do some of their own smoking in-house. Chicken, duck, and quail eggs come from a local farmer. "We work directly with farmers," says Grant. "In Walla Walla, most restaurants are farm to table, getting items from within 300 miles. Our is about a three-mile radius from the hotel. We get lamb and beef from Oregon that is grass-fed, and get produce from two farmers markets during the summer. We do rotating specials so we're offering whatever is freshest." They even grow their own sprouts. Depending on the type, they take 7-21 days to mature. "We strive to use functional garnishes, like herbs or sprouts or edible flowers. We cut our own steaks here. They're the top third of choice cut, almost prime, but approachable price-wise. Once in-house, we age them 60 days so they're more tender and flavorful. They're grass fed and corn finished."

Grant grew up in Meadville, Pennsylvania, near Lake Erie. His family had big gardens and 10-12 apple trees. "I learned to preserve and cook from my grandmother, my mother, and her five sisters," recalls Grant. "It was always an interest, and I took a vocational culinary program for food service in high school, then went on to Le Cordon Bleu in Pittsburgh. After graduation, I stayed in Pittsburgh and worked at a pan-Asian restaurant called Soba for two years that taught me a different technique with umami." After that, he spent six years in Colorado Springs at the 5-star Broadmoor Hotel. "There were seven or eight restaurants there and a total of 13 kitchens. I worked at The Tavern, their high-end steakhouse in banquets and production cooking." Six years ago, he moved to Walla Walla, started at the Marcus Whitman in sauté, became a junior sous chef, worked all stations and banquets, and ultimately became executive chef. Lucky for us.

The Marcus Whitman Hotel
The Marc Restaurant
The Vineyard Lounge
6 W Rose Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362
509-525-2200 (hotel)
509-524-5110 (Chef's Table)
509-524-5139 (Summer Dining Series)

Connie Adams/July 2018

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