On Friday night, the lights will dim at Crush, regulars will order their final plates of the famed short ribs and their last diminutive bacon and egg dishes, wherein chef Jason Wilson recreates breakfast flavors in appetizer form.
Wilson announced earlier this month that he would close his fine dining restaurant on August 28, after a decade-long run that included a James Beard award in 2010.
Wilson describes Crush as "a whirlwind and so much fun, obviously a labor of love." Though in recent years some other business ventures had come his way. There's Miller's Guild, his den of meat downtown. Also, hints of a new restaurant being announced later this year. Wilson would only confirm that it's "somewhere across the lake."
And then there's the Coffee Flour. In 2014 this alternative flour made from the pulp of discarded coffee cherries made big headlines. Turning that discarded pulp into a fiber-packed, gluten-free flour promises both health benefits and environmental ones. Wilson is turning Crush into a "culinary lab" for the Vancouver-based company (the actual coffee flour will be available wholesale shortly, and via retail soon after).
Coffee Flour was founded by a coffee industry veteran named Dan Belliveau, and Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures is one of the partners. Wilson originally signed on to help test and develop recipes; now he's the company's executive chef. Growth happened faster than expected. At this stage, he says, his involvement is on a daily basis.
Thus the 1903 converted house that long held Crush will be a place to train chefs and potential customers and experiment with this earthy-flavored flour, figuring out how to incorporate percentages of it into existing recipes for, say, doughnuts, waffles, or cookies.
"It's a great way for us to keep this unique building," says Wilson. In some ways it's also a scientific challenge on par with the modernist cooking techniques that drew him in years ago: "We want to put it in chocolate, caramel, tequila, rum, salad dressing..."