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Ashland Culinary Month: Ashland’s Tastiest Month of the Year

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2018 Junior Chef Winning Team: Bailey Goble (left) and Kara Fisher (right), Seniors from South Medford High School. Photo by Kari Young of @Meatballssmama

A month dedicated to restaurants creating delicious dishes and tasty giveaways is enough to make mouths water all across the Rogue Valley.

In 2012 Ashland Restaurant Week opened to food lovers both locally and from far away. So much so, last year Travel Ashland has extended the week into a full Ashland Culinary Month. The restaurant portion of that month, though, “Ashland Restaurant Week,” is still planned, to take place for just one week, February 4 through 10. But for those who can’t participate during the week have the entire month to celebrate food with Ashland restaurants, wineries, and food artisans. These establishments offer special course meals, cocktails, gift cards, cooking classes, and more.

Projects & Special Events Coordinator Kelsey Frantz has been one of the many hard workers putting this culinary month together. “The purpose of Ashland Culinary Month and Restaurant Week is to showcase Ashland’s award-winning culinary scene including Southern Oregon Wine Country, the restaurants, the food artisans, and talented chefs and amenities one can enjoy in February,” she says. “Travel Ashland creates this promotion to engage the food and beverage industry specifically in February to increase business and share the offerings to both locals and visitors.”

She adds that Travel Ashland aims to host an event every month of the year for visitors and locals. Travel Ashland operates as a marketing organization promoting tourism in Ashland year-round. Culinary Week and Month are in February because it is the slowest month for restaurants and businesses in Ashland. While participating in culinary events, whether that be enjoying a special dish or a cooking class, she also says it supports Ashland’s Food and Beverage Tax. “These additional promotions are also important for restaurant and hospitality industry, especially in times of lower occupancy like February.”

It’s hard to imagine the public isn’t engaged when chefs are creating special dishes just for this event. Last year over 35 specials were announced by restaurants across the city, and this year Frantz expects more. “This promotion of Ashland Culinary Month invites visitors and locals to experience Ashland in February which is different than in the summer months,” she says. “You can talk with Chefs, meet winemakers, and enjoy a quieter experience while perhaps skiing Mt. Ashland or enjoying the spa.”

2018 Top Chef Winners: Sous Chef, Josh Dorcak and Top Chef Luke VanCampen of MÄS. Photo by Kari Young of @Meatballssmama

Frantz has seen a rise in people dining out during Restaurant Week and Month because of the special offers and dishes prepared for the event. Last year’s event offered a cooking class by Brickroom Chef Skye Elder, a new cocktail from Hearsay Restaurant, and a special Valentine’s Day dinner at MÄS. A look at Travel Ashland’s website shows a seemingly endless list of special offers and several course meals at some of Ashland’s best restaurants. With last year’s specials ranging from Thai Green Papaya Tasting Salad to Crater Lake Spirits dinner offering several craft cocktails, this year is going to be hard to beat. However, restaurants and the public alike look forward to this week (and month) long event to try new dishes and drinks.

Ashland’s restaurants, wineries, and bars have earned multiple awards, especially during last year’s Ashland Culinary Festival in November. Frantz says, “These two events interconnect as we work year-round to promote Ashland’s amazing culinary scene and our talented Chefs. Many of our Top Chef Competitors and Winning Chefs/Mixologists will be featuring specials, classes and promotions during Ashland Culinary Month.” Those last year competitors include Top Mixologist winner Caitlin Hilligoss from Peerless Restaurant and Round Three Top Chef winner Luke VanCampen from MÄS.

This year Amuse is offering a three course meal, including an appetizer, main course, and dessert. Larks is planning a Weisinger Wine Dinner featuring Weisinger vintages paired with dishes prepared by Chef Francesco Console. Omar’s Fresh Seafood & Steaks’s special are smoked salmon cakes, butternut squash tartlets, and an oyster bar featuring six different varieties. Belle Fiore has created a special Valentine’s Day menu, including live music and premium wines. Live music will also be offered at several restaurants and tasting rooms. Anyone who dines at a participating restaurants will have a chance to win a $25 gift card. A grand prize Culinary Basket will also be awarded to a lucky individual.

Several other establishments are creating their own Valentine’s Day menus and specials as well. Even hotels are offering one-of-a-kind specials. Ashland Springs Hotel assembled a Valentine’s Day package for a one night stay for two guests. The package includes an artisan dessert created by Larks’s award-winning Pastry Chef Sara Variel.

“What is exciting is that a resident or visitor can try something new they may not have tried as these specials and events are unique and special to this promotion specifically,” Frantz says. “You may get to attend a dinner or class that is only being created for this event.”

Ashland Restaurant Week and Month
February 4 – 10
Menus and info at ashlandchamber.com

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