Today on Foodie Friday, meet Dain Grimmer who’s head distiller for Heritage Distilling Company, the most awarded craft distiller in the United States for each of the past five years. Heritage is based in Gig Harbor, Washington, where Dain supervises the making of their whiskeys, vodkas, gins and rums. They also do some work with us at Food PR & Communications. The company has tasting rooms in Gig Harbor, Roslyn and Seattle (in the Capitol Hill and Ballard neighborhoods) Washington, and Eugene, Oregon.
What is your role in the food/beverage industry?
I’m the director of production, master distiller & potions master for Heritage Distilling Co. My role is to manage production aspects for all HDC locations from the grain coming in the building to cased product leaving for distribution. Ensuring quality control of all products and recipes and as well as creating and innovating new products of all types of spirits.
How did you first get involved in the food/beverage industry?
Always watching and seeing the food/beverage industry change and evolve I first got involved in the industry with the opening of Heritage Distilling Co. in 2012. I saw the vision and mission of what our President and CEO wanted to change within the industry with not just high-quality spirits, but first class experiences as well. A literal knock on the door, meeting with the owners, and the chance to jump in is what has fueled the fire for me in the beverage/spirits sector.
What/who inspired your current role in the food/beverage industry?
The Pacific Northwest craft beer scene and emergence of a craft spirits industry within Washington State is what peaked my main interest in the beverage side of the industry. Traveling near and far and watching food/cooking series and documentaries opened my palate and the idea of how the food and beverage industry can evolve. On the beverage side I was always traveling to new breweries, bottle shops, and liquor stores finding the newest creation to break away from the standard item on the shelf. The experimentation and craft emerging during this time was fascinating and still is to this day.
Tell us about an industry professional who influenced you most?
Culinary expert, chef, and TV host Andrew Zimmern. I loved watching his show, Bizarre Foods, even though I couldn't watch or even want to try some of the things he ate. As his show grew he moved along to more satisfying and delicious foods. I like the way he always tries to go to the core of where the food was from, the search for the best home cooked meal with local ingredients, and the rule of always trying things twice opened my mind to how creative food and new ingredients can be.
Describe a food fad/trend you would love to start.
Plant based food all cooked in bacon fat.
What’s your favorite food to make at home?
Olive, mushroom, and caper pasta with homemade seasoned tomato sauce. Making the pasta myself is a plus if I have the extra time.
What’s your favorite meal to order in a restaurant?
Whatever is on the seasonal fresh sheet. Always start with a few oysters and spirit forward cocktail.
What three ingredients could you not live without?
Pesto, garlic, and parmigiano-reggiano
Name the food/ingredient you can’t live without.
Potatoes Potatoes Potatoes! Any shape, size, flavor, or way of cooking.
What food or meal makes you happiest?
A true wood-fired Neapolitan pizza Margherita with a crisp local lager.
What cookbooks or cooking classes are most important to you and why?
Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian cookbook. This James Beard award winning cookbook is a diverse worldwide collection of hundreds of vegetarian recipes. It is categorized by ingredient that explains the origin and multiple ways of cooking them before even breaking into the recipes that range in all sorts of styles. This makes vegetarian cooking very fun, flavorful, and full of new delicious ideas. So much can be done with vegetarian cooking that people are missing. I do love meat, but that would be very boring if it was the only thing ever on my plate.