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by Jennifer M. Hall

There was no shortage of story displayed around the room, but as you would hope, the best story was on the plate…plate after plate of Salmon Nation. Al Kowitz, who explained that he went to culinary school (at an age when most are looking to retire!) “to learn to cook with local foods,” without a doubt taught more than he took away. Yes, he has a better handle on the mechanics now. But what he shared with his peers and instructors about the names, the names behind the names and the flavors of local foods was unparalleled.

Equipped with history as a farmer, Washington State University Extension specialist and doctorate in Communications, Al offered those he touched at Spokane Community College a new relationship with food – daily. Not only did he serve ozette potatoes in his graduation menu, he grew them. He was the first student to break stride with the “rules” and personally source most of his meal. Al made a place at the table for tradition, indigenous culture and creative spirit (see how he plated his courses to match pieces of art).