Chef Focus - Philip Stanton of Park Lodge
by Erin Peterson
featured in Spokane Coeur d'Alene Living Magazine
Perched atop the edge of the valley at the west end of Kendall Yards with a gorgeous view of the river lies a brand new restaurant, and it’s probably the best-kept secret in Spokane food right now. The smile on Chef Stanton’s face shows both his excitement for his craft, and pride in opening a restaurant in a place that he loves. “To be able to see the river and nature really inspires me to forage the natural ingredients of this region. It feels as though you’re just nestled into a spot where you can go and find them,” he said.
He is definitely not new to the industry, and his background in food is as diverse as it is impressive. With very humble beginnings in the kitchen, he originally was a dishwasher at Denny’s, and it lit his fire with the goal to reach for a career in the industry. He went to culinary school in San Francisco, and worked at Cliff House, then was sous chef at a Middle-Eastern restaurant called Ziryab, staged for a little bit at La Folie (a French contemporary restaurant), and then moved down to Los Angeles and worked for Wolfgang Puck at Spago for three years. That was where he developed a completely different mindset toward cooking, and the staff emphasized the idea that being a chef meant being a true professional.
The mindset he learned in his experiences pushed him to reach the very top of his craft. “You don’t just show up to work and throw something together. You show up like a professional, you treat this as more than just a job you pick up,” he said. His next goal was to work in Paris, and he landed an opportunity to work at the two Michelin starred restaurant Relais Louis XIII, where they focus on deeply traditional, classic French food. The culture in France was deeply inspiring to Chef Philip, where the ingredients were the star and the culture surrounding food focused on sustainability and respect.
When he began envisioning what he wants to accomplish with this restaurant, his first goal was to be ingredient-focused and have a strong team, which is already producing rave reviews amongst diners. It features menu items such as Roast Duck Breast with asparagus, radish, turnips, cippolini onions, and parsnip puree, or “Grilled Lamb Leg” with parmesan polenta, panzanella salad, and olive-feta vinaigrette. The execution of each dish is an alignment with his Michelin training, and he empowers his team to learn about every aspect of the dish in order to provide consistency no matter who is cooking it. He educates them to understand the nuances in preparation from conception to final product, and it is evident in the high quality of the seasonally appropriate food that is served to each and every diner.
“I want it to be a comfortable, happy place where they can enjoy themselves, be pampered a little bit, and have everything taken care of. I want people in this city to have a really nice night out and enjoy the view of the river and some delicious food,” Chef Stanton explains.
Park Lodge is located in West Kendall Yards at 411 N. Nettleton. Make reservations to enjoy it yourself here.
Erin Peterson is a digital strategist, professional educator, award-winning blogger and a passionate local advocate with the Spokane Culinary Arts Guild. When she isn't teaching, researching or traveling, she is cooking for friends and family. You can follow her adventures on Instagram at @erinpcreative.