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Bourbon & Bowties organizers express gratitude

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | April 30, 2024 2:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — With framing going up for the new Samaritan Hospital, Chief Executive Officer Theresa Sullivan told the packed house at the Bourbon & Bowties fundraiser that it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of hospital district residents.

The biannual fundraiser brought in about $385,000 before expenses, said Gretchen Youngren, Samaritan’s chief development and communications officer. The net proceeds will be announced in early May; all money raised will go toward the construction of the new hospital.

Bourbon & Bowties is both a black-tie and ballgown dinner and a culinary competition, which prompted nine local restaurants to put their best dish forward. Local wineries and breweries supplied the beverages. 

When the voting was over the culinary students from the Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center took home the overall trophy. And yes, that was McDonald’s of Moses Lake serving their signature french fries. 

For 2024 the money raised will go toward overall expenses for the hospital project, Youngren said. Construction on the new facility started in fall 2023; the exterior steel framing is nearing completion.

In her speech, Sullivan reviewed some of the ups and downs of the project, which had been scheduled to go to bid in spring 2020, just about the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Construction was delayed and inflation added substantially to the cost of the project, with the estimate exceeding the amount of available funding by the summer of 2022. As a result, Samaritan commissioners decided against proceeding. District voters were asked to approve a construction bond in spring 2023, and did.

“Thank you for your generosity and your support,” Sullivan told hospital district patrons. 

Many of the restaurants had participated in earlier Bourbon & Bowties competitions, and skills center culinary instructor Nathan Bathurst said the instructors had learned from the experience. There’s a balance to a winning dish.

“You want to be kind of innovative, but you don’t want it so far out there — you want it approachable at the same time,” he said.

In 2022, the skills center students opted for a dessert trio that included a hibiscus poached pear.

“We did a beautiful dessert, but it wasn’t very approachable,” he said.

The students revamped their approach for 2024.

“We all decided it had to be more like comfort food,” Bathurst said. “So we kept with the comfort food idea, but then how do we elevate that? How do we make it just a little nicer?”

They opted for an entree and dessert.

“We are serving a cider-braised pork belly with a rosemary and lemon scalloped potato, sage demi-glace and sauteed purple kale,” he said. “And then our dessert is a deconstructed Dutch apple pie. It’s got a little apple rose sitting on a crumble with house-made vanilla ice cream and a little shooter of house-made caramel.”

The ENZO Italian Restaurant was new to the competition, but Chef Dezmon Campos was not. He was the chef for a different restaurant in 2022. He said he planned the menu to show some of his restaurant’s strengths, highlight its Italian heritage and appeal to the evening’s audience. 

“I’ve worked in Moses Lake almost my whole life,” he said. “I’ve served food here for a long time, so I try to pick out the favorites here. People love meat, they love beef, they love potatoes and they love their vegetables. So I wanted to get something that was traditional and familiar. Something that will catch everybody’s eye on the regular menu.”

Campos opted for two categories.

“For the first course, we’re doing skillet meatballs, our famous Rhonda’s skillet meatballs. And then for the entree we’re doing a braised short rib with a Yukon Gold puree, some roasted tomato demi-glace and gremolata on top.”

Preparation, he said, took about a week. 

Chris Cates, area supervisor for McDonald’s said they opted for a classic McDonald’s strength. 

“Fries are simple, delicious — people might like them,” he said. 

Bourbon & Bowties gave McDonald’s a chance to participate in an important community event, Cates said, which was the goal. 

“(We’re) trying to be part of the community as much as we can,” he said.

Smulligan’s offered a smoked pulled pork slider with coleslaw; the Overlook Cafe at Samaritan also went with sliders, featuring bourbon-braised beef. Michael’s Market & Bistro offered an appetizer trio of mango prawns, Asian salad and Tuscan soup. Tacos El Rey served vegan ceviche. 

Rock Top Burgers went with smoked macaroni and cheese topped with beef, and Michael’s on the Lake opted for dessert, chocolate banana bread pudding. The Cow Path Bakery, Othello, highlighted the spirits side with an Irish cream chocolate mousse and a limoncello mousse.

Cates said the plan for the night was pretty simple, given that it was McDonald’s first competition.

“We just want to do something simple, short and delicious. And fun,” he said.

It’s a long day of preparation, Bathurst said, but Cates was right.

“It’s a blast,” he said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.

    The crew of ENZO Italian Restaurant prepares plates during the Bourbon & Bowties dinner.
 
 
    McDonald’s of Moses Lake employees prepare the company’s signature fries. The fries may not have won, but the red boxes with signature arches were seen at pretty much every table at the event.
 
 
    Gretchen Youngren, chief development and communications officer for Samaritan Hospital, speaks to attendees during Friday's Bourbon & Bowties event. Youngren and several others brought the community together to raise money for the hospital.