Boise has been getting a lot of national love. Not only were Modern Hotel Chef Nate Whitley and Acme Bakeshop owner Mike Runsvold named James Beard Award semi-finalists this year, but Kris Komori, chef de cuisine at State & Lemp, has been nominated for Food and Wine's The People's Best New Chef.
Komori is one of 100 nominees from 10 regions across the United States. Fellow contenders in the Northwest and Pacific region include Zoi Antonitsas from Seattle's Westward; Joshua McFadden from Portland, Ore.'s Ava Gene's; and Sarah Pliner from Portland, Ore.'s Aviary.
"It's been a little difficult for me just because I don't really like the attention so much," said Komori. "But the restaurant is so small, we sat down, and I talked to everyone: 'This is not just for me, this is for everyone.'"
"I've eaten at maybe four of those Portland restaurants, and I've actually staged at one of them: Aviary. Sarah is great, she's a really great chef," said Komori. "So it's flattering to be in with those restaurants."
Voting to crown The People's Best New Chef in each region is open to the public through April 8 at 3 p.m. MST. Results will be announced Thursday, April 9.
In brews news, Meridian is now home to a new growler fill station called The Growler Guys. Launched in Bend, Ore., The Growler Guys currently have around 10 fill stations scattered across the Northwest. The Meridian location at 2020 E. Overland Road, Suite 100, is the company's first Idaho outpost.
"We offer craft beer, cider, kombucha and root beer," said Meridian store co-owner Michael Wood. "We're predominantly a growler fill station where all of our employees are Master Brewers Association of the Americas Beer Steward-Certified. So people can come in and they don't necessarily have to know a lot about craft beer and we can educate them about it."
The Growler Guys-Meridian will open its doors Friday, April 10 at 11 a.m. with 48 taps, but that number will swell to 56 within a couple of weeks.
"Our entire menu system is all digital," said Wood. "So there will be an image of the brewery's tap handle above the faucet and then information about the beer itself above the image. As soon as a keg blows, something different will go in its place and the new information is put up immediately. It's all linked to the website."
To celebrate its grand opening, The Growler Guys-Meridian is hosting multiple events Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11, including tappings from Bear Island Brewing Co., Sockeye Brewing, LongDrop Cider Co. and Lagunitas Brewing Co.
"Every two hours, it'll be a new local or regional brewer on site to sample their beers and talk about their brewery," said Wood. "Plus we're giving away 1,000 free growlers to the first 1,000 customers. ... You pay for the fill, but you get the glass for free."
Though the growler station will have some seating options, it's geared toward fill-and-go clientele.
"The space is pretty limited, but we will have a few tables where people can sit and have a pint," Wood said.
Wood and his wife, Angela, are in the process of opening The Growler Guys-Boise.
"We're still scouting locations, so it's not even under construction yet, but we plan to have things figured out and a new location open by fall," said Wood.
For more info on The Growler Guys-Meridian, visit facebook.com/thegrowlerguysmeridian.
In other growler fill station news, Boise's Pre Funk Beer Bar recently acquired a cool new gadget: a Crowler machine. Sold by Oskar Blues Brewery, the table-top tool allows bars to can their own 32-ounce beers, one at a time.
"What happens is we get an empty 32-ounce aluminum can, we then let the customer select whatever beer they want off of our tap system, and then we fill that 32-ounce can with their desired beer," said Pre Funk owner and founder Justin Flynn. "At that point, we put a blank lid on it and then we take it over to our seamer and the seamer crimps the lid on. ... We're basically making our own beer cans."
Flynn said the 32-ounce cans are perfect for outdoor activities like picnics, camping or hiking. Unlike glass growlers, you can dispose of the cans once you consume their contents.
Introducing Idaho's first ever Crowler machine! Your favorite draft beer put into a 32oz. Can!Posted by Pre Funk Beer Bar on Thursday, April 2, 2015
"We suggest people recycle them," said Flynn. "We're going to try to come out with a punch-card. If you bring your growler can back 10 times, you get a free growler just to promote recycling."
Flynn also says Crowlers are a great way to preserve special releases for future consumption.
"Right now, it's only good for about 7 to 10 days," said Flynn. "But we're trying to get them to last as long as possible, in the event that you have a rare beer on tap that you want to can and save for a while."
Pre Funk Crowlers cost the same price as their half-growlers, anywhere from $8 to $10.