Ten Questions for Anthony Campbell of Redwing Café in Rainier Beach, Seattle

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Redwing Café

When my chosen family in Seattle moved to the Rainier Beach, Seattle, neighborhood a year and a half ago, one of the first restaurants to which they introduced me was Redwing Café. I was immediately smitten with the entire restaurant, from the healthy menu selections to the warm and friendly atmosphere, to the art adorning the walls. Since my first visit, I have returned to Redwing Café every trip to Seattle. During one of my visits last year, we bought some of Redwing Café’s vegan biscuits for a sparkling wine brunch my family and I hosted. Needless to say, I was thrilled to finally meet and interview co-owner Anthony Campbell and share Redwing Café’s story.

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One of Redwing Café amazing dishes

I heard that your entry into cooking and the food industry was baking. Please share your story. 
I was a contractor for many years but was ready for a change. I always cooked at home but decided to teach myself to bake and it worked.

What inspired you to get into the restaurant business?
There were no restaurants near our home in Rainier Beach. I had worked in a vegetarian restaurant in the past and my wife and I decided to just go for it.

Is Redwing Café your first restaurant? How did you choose the name? How long have you been business? 
Yes, this is my first and only restaurant. My wife, Su Harambe, and I opened it four and a half years ago. I chose the name because my grandparents lived in Red Wing, Minnesota. When I was a kid we would visit often. It was a place I loved that felt very homey, someone was always glad to see you when you arrived.  I wanted the café to have that kind of a feeling. Like coming to our home for breakfast or lunch or just to hang out with coffee and a pastry. And, I think we achieved that.

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A brunch sandwich at Redwing Café

Why did you select your location in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle?
We have lived in Rainier Beach for the last 15 years and loved the neighborhood. We were missing a café, and we wanted one that embraced the entire community. I wanted to offer healthy food in a beautiful atmosphere. It is important to me that everyone feels welcomed by me and my friendly staff.

Will you share with us details about your restaurant’s concept and décor, especially the art element?
We worked with what we had, so a lot of things in the café were re-purposed. The beautiful wood walls just appeared when I removed the drywall. The exposed framing is for 2x4s nailed directly to each other. We cleaned up the wood and finished it with linseed oil. We like color and art and wanted to have all of these elements as part of Redwing. The art shows change every two months and we try to show mostly local art. All proceeds of art sales go to the artists. Art is a very important part of the experience here and my wife works hard to find lots of beautiful art to hang.

Is Redwing Café vegetarian? What is your style of cooking and baking?
Yes, Redwing Café is all vegetarian. We offer many vegan options as well as plenty of gluten free items. My wife and I have been vegetarians for most of our adult lives, so that was natural for us. The style of cooking and baking is pretty simple. We like the pastries to never been overly sweet. You should enjoy the flavors rather than being shocked by sweetness. The menu items are healthy and meat free, but we hope they are also appealing to people who are not vegetarian.

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My brunch with the indescribably delicious vegan biscuit

I am a huge fan of your vegan biscuits, thanks to my dairy-free friend, Gary, and I am a Southern girl that demands a lot from her biscuits. Will you share with us why and how you came up with the idea and recipe? What are some of the other customer and staff menu favorites? 
It was just a matter of trial and error until the perfect biscuit emerged. The Harambe salad is quite popular and it uses the lemon tahini dressing from an old Seattle favorite, Gravity Bar. My wife and I both worked there and since it no longer exists the owner gave us the go ahead to put it on our menu. Our almond croissants are quite popular. And of course, the vegan biscuits and gravy are a hit. For many of the vegan pastries, we use Earth Balance (vegan buttery sticks) in place of butter. The secret to the vegan biscuit is olive oil. The gravy contains hemp milk, cashews, almonds, and rice flour, among other things, all blended to a creamy consistency.

Do you have a philosophy as it relates to food, beverage, and hospitality?
We want things to be tasty, healthy and beautiful. We like everyone to feel like we are welcoming them into our home, our family and our community. Because of that feeling people seem to come in and join into that community and make new friends here. Kids seem to feel really comfortable at Redwing as well.

Do you have plans to open additional locations or restaurants? Why or why not?
No more. This is plenty of work and this was as much about Rainier Beach as it was about me owning a restaurant. It would be hard to duplicate in a neighborhood in which we weren’t so involved.

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A glimpse inside of Redwing Café

Do you have any additional information you would like to share with the readers, such as forthcoming menu items, events, etc.?
Yes, an event! May 10th from 6pm to 9pm we are hosting a fundraiser and art opening to benefit the Twilson Mack short film production, 703 – short, gay, and delicious. Featuring live music from Moon Dial, the evening will also be the official opening of writer/director Tom McIntire’s show of paintings of 703’s short, gay, and/or delicious cast members.

Redwing Café
9272 57th Ave S
Seattle WA 98118
Phone: (206) 420-1706
Email: redwingcafeseattle@gmail.com
Hours:
Tues – Fri 7am – 4pm
Sat & Sun 8am – 4pm
Closed Mondays

Ten Questions for Rhonda Hamlin of The Art of Crunch

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Rhonda Hamlin and The Art of Crunch (photo credit: Lisa Markman)

I am thrilled to present my first Ten Questions interview and delighted to introduce you to Rhonda Hamlin, owner of The Art of Crunch and and magnificent creator of handcrafted biscotti. Rhonda and I met a little over a year ago at dinner at Russell’s in Bothell, Washington, and reconnected at a brunch tasting I hosted in Seattle. When I invited Rhonda to the brunch, I did not realize that September 29 was also National Biscotti Day until she shared that with me, so I asked her if she would be kind enough to bring biscotti for us to try. She brought a variety of flavors, including a new flavor test batch. The biscotti was so incredible that I knew I wanted to share her entrepreneurial story and love of biscotti. Below are my ten questions and Rhonda’s answers in her own words.

Tell us about your work and baking background. Was there an ah-ha moment when you decided “I want to bake for a living” instead of doing something else? Please describe.

I had worked in retail for 30+ years, 20 years at Nordstrom, before starting my biscotti business. I have no formal culinary training, just a love for baking and food! I started my company while working in cosmetics at Nordstrom. I had no idea at the time what I was getting into going into the food business.

What motivated you to create your own business?

I wanted more than punching a time clock. I am very grateful for the time I spent at Nordstrom and everything I learned about business, but I wanted to explore having my own brand.

How long has The Art of Crunch been in business? How did you choose the name?

The Art of Crunch is in its sixth year. The name was actually inspired by a men’s grooming line called The Art of Shaving. The crunch factor of my biscotti is very important, so I thought it was the perfect option.

Why biscotti?

It is the passion I have been given!

Biscotti
The Art of Crunch Brunch Biscotti

What are your flavor inspirations? Do you have any favorites?

I have many inspirations. In the beginning, my colleagues in the cosmetics department at Nordstrom and I would dream of flavor combinations at break at the Ebar. Some have been requests and some from Pinterest.  I LOVE to play with flavor!

What do you enjoy pairing with biscotti?

Coffee, wine and beer. Italian tradition suggests Vin Santo wine, but Americans love coffee. I collaborate with a local beer tour company in Tacoma called Tacoma Hops and pair biscotti amazingly with beer!

Do you make other treats besides biscotti?

Yes, we have a line of dessert bars and savory crackers.

If you were not making biscotti for a living, what would you be doing instead?

What? Not making biscotti? I was born for this! Of course, I suppose I could go back to cosmetics…

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Anything with food! My daughter and I also love treasure hunting at thrift shops.

Where can we find your biscotti and other baked goods? Do you sell online

There are several locations in the Puget Sound area and in my Etsy store online.

*For biscotti lovers, I recommend The Art of Crunch 6-Month or 12-Month Crunch of the Month clubs. You will not be disappointed.