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9.17.2004

FareStart!

I can't keep it to myself.

FareStart is a Seattle nonprofit organization that “transforms lives by empowering homeless and disadvantaged men, women, and families to achieve self-sufficiency through life skills, job training, and employment in the food service industry.” And through this admirable program, FareStart gives me a reason to feel even better than usual about treating myself to a three-course meal. A $19.95 three-course meal.

FareStart holds weekly Guest Chef Nights, in which stars of the Seattle restaurant scene work with FareStart students to produce complex and delectable three-course meals. Volunteers from local groups and businesses act as servers, and all proceeds are put to use for training and social-service programs for the students. And in case you can’t get a coveted reservation for one of these evenings, you should know that the restaurant is also open for lunch Monday through Friday and for catered events as well.

This week I had the immense pleasure of nabbing a seat at the Guest Chef Night featuring Ethan Stowell of the remarkable Union, one of my favorite spots in town. Keaton was to join me, but a last-minute invitation for a free trip to Thailand—how does this sort of thing happen?!—stole her away. I instead wound up squeezing into a table of fellow food nerds from eGullet and was thrilled to find myself there, amongst fifteen raucous, chatty near-strangers.

The restaurant was full to the brim, buzzing and warm on a rainy night. Our evening began with the graduation of one of FareStart’s students, which elicited much applause and general good cheer. Ethan Stowell was introduced, and I successfully resisted the urge to throw myself at his feet. Our enormous eGullet table was singled out and thanked for much support and foodie enthusiasm. Pride all around. And, of course, dinner was delicious:

-A very delicate chilled heirloom tomato soup with a large poached sea scallop (tender, rare), garnished with finely chopped chives and a few dribbles of olive oil

-A small round of roasted beef loin (perfectly rare, buttery, melty) perched on a crispy disk of sautéed Parmesan-enriched polenta and splashed with a shallot sauce, whose hint of balsamic vinegar cut the richness of the beef beautifully

-Vanilla bean panna cotta (creamy, aromatic, refreshing) with peach soup and blueberries

Yes, this bounty for $19.95, plus tax, tip, and beverage—and all proceeds to the best of causes. Get yourself to FareStart. It’s enough to leave a girl positively glowing, satisfied in so many ways. And the bagful of free chanterelles (from two eGulleteers who’d been out foraging only that afternoon) didn’t hurt either.

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