That food came courtesy of Courtney Storer, The Bear's culinary producer, who's about to bring her food here to Whidbey Island. She will flex her Chicago upbringing and love of Italian cuisine at Captain Whidbey for a four-day residency from January 5–8.
"I've been a chef for many years and up until recently, when I left my restaurant to work on The Bear, I actually didn't have much time off," Storer says. "So when I would, I would always say I want to go to Whidbey Island because it would be just a really beautiful place for me to just be calm and relaxed and see things that I didn't get to see when I grew up in Chicago."
Storer considers the 115-year-old lodge an important location in her personal and culinary life after discovering it during visits to her partner's home state. It's been a getaway in months filled with The Bear’s writers' room, training actors, working on her Italian food brand, refining recipes, or being a private chef and caterer. Thus our region was the first place she wanted to do a residency. Fans of The Bear (or anyone in the mood for some memorable seasonal Italian fare) can purchase individual tickets to a series of events and dinners during her stay.
"So seasonality is definitely what I start with," says Storer. “I definitely want to use what the island has available right now.... But it has to be winter driven. So seafood, root vegetables, lots of chicories. I kind of start with what the farm has and then I build from there.”
She'll work with local farmers from Whidbey Island Grown Cooperative and nearby operations such as Taylor’s Shellfish Farms and Capitol Hill wine bar La Dive to pair her trattoria tastes with the Northwest's more wintry ingredients.
On her first night, in lieu of a formal dinner, Storer and Anais Custer of La Dive, will hold a Q&A after an oyster raw bar from Taylor Shellfish Farms and glasses aplenty of La Dive wine ($80 a ticket). The next three nights, dinners come with a focaccia workshop and celebration of cioppino, with two seating options at 6 and 8pm. On the menu is a classic take on panzerotti, an Italian street food with handmade dough, cioppino, mussel escabeche, as well as mussel arrabbiata. Not to mention Manhattan-style clam sauced pasta along with quintessential crudos, clams oreganata, and seasonal squash-filled pasta. Yep, these are selling out fast.
“I think it will feel a little bit like an Italian grandmother's house on the weekend,” says Storer. “I'm trying to show a little bit of my own family's history in this food.”
You don't have to book a night at the Captain Whidbey to attend a dinner, but diners who do stay at the stylishly overhauled inn can also partake of morning events including a mussel outing in Penn Cove or a hike in the nearby Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve. More info right over here.