Since Scarpetta opened its doors in Ashland earlier this spring, a loyal following has grown among locals and theater-goers, owed to the simple yet complex treatment of local ingredients. The combination of co-owner chefs Tony Travanty and Petra Jung, with 2015 Ashland Culinary Festival Iron Chef winner, Josh Dorcak, has given the Ashland dining scene an authentic forage-and-farm experience. Scarpetta is all about playing to strengths.
Travanty and Jung, friends who hail from Minnesota and Wisconsin respectively, felt the Midwest’s short growing season hamstrung their creative abilities and passion for fresh year round organic produce. They committed themselves to a national search for the best location in which to create a truly authentic farm-to-table cooking-eating experience. Enter strength #1: Find a thriving organic farming community with year-round growing. Check. Southern Oregon won out.
With access to organic produce, humanely raised meats from Southern Oregon and sustainably caught seafood from the Oregon coast, Scarpetta can offer a menu that changes weekly, and sometimes nightly, to reflect a fresh, recent harvest. The collaboration between Travanty and Dorcak allows them to apply techniques to ingredients, such as sous vide, that preserve those flavors and textures. ( Our testimonial: Sous-vide albacore is incomparable. Promise) Strength #2: Develop relationships with local producers and be creative. Check.
The chef trio are taking taking the sustainable table to new heights. Little known to guests is the restaurant’s commitment to achieving zero waste and making maximum use of what is available at the market. According to Travanty, “they would prefer to compost food scraps and vegetable trimmings, but the practice was disallowed by building management. So we took a different approach”. Enter Strength #3: Marry creative talent with environmental consideration. Check! Carrots, for instance, might be a side element with roasted meat one day, and the carrot tops would do service as pesto the next. The braising liquid from a rabbit dish one evening is simmered down into a full flavor broth and frozen for secondary use later in the week. This is their daily meditation.
Although the restaurants’ name might conjure up an Italian-themed menu, diners will actually be treated to offerings that represent Dorcak’s passion for transforming Pacific Northwest foraged and farmed ingredients; Jung’s classical French training; and Travanty’s Italian heritage. “Scarpetta” happens when you want to lick the plate clean and Jung’s “slipper” of house-made Rosemary Foccacia, will serve you well. Her attention-getting version arrives piled high with a generous pat of local butter sprinkled with Jacobsen Finishing Salt, harvested by hand from Oregon’s Netarts Bay.
Chefs Travanty, Jung and Dorcak….creating the present and future of authentic, wild, and farm-to-table cooking. Go meet them and eat their food. You’ll understand.
Need a second opinion? Check them out on Facebook and IG @scarpettaashland.