Sante is the French word for health. Jeremy Hansen, owner and chef of Sante Restaurant and Charcuterie exemplifies a holistic health in the way he runs his pioneering establishment next to Auntie's Bookstore in Downtown Spokane.
Jeremy grew up in Spokane and has been in the restaurant business since he was a young teenager, cutting his teeth at the Mustard Seed and other area kitchens. He eventually attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland where he not only honed his skills as a chef, but formed a philosophy of food and community that eventually gave birth to Sante.
Sante is remarkable for the way it sources foods locally. Hansen is pictured above processing the half of a steer that was just delivered that morning by Gary Angel of Rocky Ridge Ranch. Most of the beef and other meat at Sante comes from this nearby farm. Jeremy points out that not only is Gary's beef superior in quality because of the feed and care Gary provides, processing beef in this way also makes good business sense. By cutting out the middle-men he makes a good profit, Gary get's a good price and a reliable market for his beef, and the consumer gets a choice meal at a reasonable price. This is a great example of Jeremy's uncompromising pursuit of holistic health. Everyone wins, including his employees who apparently are paid well above average for Spokane area restaurants.
Sante is not only a restaurant, it is a Charcuterie, which is the area of cooking that involves preparing meats like the sausages, bacon, and prosciutto ham pictured to the left in the restaurant's display case. Jeremy was telling me that he really had trouble making good prosciutto with the pork that was available through commercial channels. He said, "When I used Gary's Berkshire pigs it came out comparable to the finest hams available in Europe. The quality really is dependent on what the animals eat. When we eat animals we're really eating what they ate." All of the items in the displays case are not only used in meals for diners, they are available for bulk purchase. They even make their own mustard which I saw being prepared in the kitchen. I imagine the steady stream of income from these items is the envy of every restaurant in Spokane.
There is one other unique aspect to Sante that was a great surprise to me. While it is in many respects a fine-dining establishment, the space they've created is warm and welcoming, even to a guy like me who wants to plug in a computer and do some work while he eats. They have a counter with outlets and stools that connects the restaurant with the book store and free wifi. I had the toasted-cheese sandwhich that included an egg and a couple of slices of their house bacon. It was fantastic and was in the Red Robin range of prices.
Needless to say I'm impressed. While many talk about the virtues of local and sustainable food, Jeremy and his wife took their life savings and are turning those virtues into a sustainable business. Spokane is a healthier city because of their efforts. If you're giving a gift certificate for Christmas this year, Sante should be high on your list of candidates. They are open for breakfast and lunch, 8am to 5pm, 7 days a week. They are open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday till 9pm.