Arts Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of a new series for The Beachcomber, when we hear from island chefs and restaurant owners, in their own words, about how their restaurants have fared in the era of take-out only, and their ideas and plans for the coming weeks. This week, we asked questions of Chef Dre Neeley and Pepa Brower, co-owners of Gravy. Last week, Neeley’s culinary prowess was highlighted in an article in The Seattle Times, “How to support Black-owned restaurants in Seattle.”
What’s on offer at Gravy now? Tell us how to find out more about your menus.
Brower: This week our take-out offerings are celebrating Asia. We are doing take out on Saturdays and Sundays for now, by pre-order and pre-pay only. We hope to expand this soon. Information can always be found on our website (www.gravyvashon.com) with updated menus and ordering form. [We also post on] Instagram, Facebook and Vashon Facebook sites.
Where do you source your ingredients?
Brower: We source our fresh produce and eggs from Aeggy’s Farm and fish from Port Townsend, flown in fresh and seasonal, never frozen.
What are your own memories of a favorite take-out meal?
Brower: A and W car-hop service (my first job, on roller skates). The food was so fresh and delicious! I would run right now to a spot if I knew it would taste like it used to. Dre’s favorite is Arby’s (also his first job). Currently, we have enjoyed take out from Ba Bar Vietnamese food — amazing! Or Pho from White Center. Also, everything is so special and delicious when delivered to your house by friends who love you!
What’s your current favorite thing to cook for yourself?
Brower: We have been taking cooking at home to a new level! Not messing around over here. We have traveled to China (in our obsessive cooking) and stayed there for a long while cooking everything. We have pushed ourselves to test recipes and work on techniques that we never had time to do before. (Din Tai Fung look out!) We then traveled to Italy where we re-visited dishes we had recently enjoyed when we actually were in Italy. Very reminiscent and comforting. Dre will build a fire in our pizza oven and cook anything. He just wants to cook in fire.
What makes Dre happy when he is cooking?
Brower: Dre is happiest when cooking with fire. He is also really happy when he is pouring through his cookbooks looking for inspiration and ways to re-invent classics and anything new to do with what just arrived on our doorstep from the farm.
If Dre is willing to share one secret ingredient or simple cooking tip, what would it be?
Brower: Finishing Olive Oil. Finishing Sel Gris (smoked sea salt.) Sumac.
If you’d be willing to share some tips for perfect hospitality, what would they be?
Preset as much as you can before guests arrive: table set, nibbles set, welcome cocktail or bubbles upon arrival, music and LIGHTING! Food prep done, and honestly, dinner done if possible. I love a one-pot meal, a beautiful salad to start and a very simple dessert. I also like to have a little gift bag ready for guests to take home. Something from the meal (bottle of Finishing Olive Oil!) is a great example.
What keeps you and Dre going in this era of take-out only, and what are your hopes and dreams for Vashon in this moment in time?
We keep going because we love to move forward and not back. This is a very important time to change for the better. It’s about pivoting from day-to-day. We are so confident that we can find ways to unite our community and honor and take care of each other. Food is love. Gravy is an extension of our home. We miss our people. We are getting through this together!
For more information, visit gravyvashon.com.