Elena Gann is the owner of the new restaurant, Bassa Prua, in downtown Leavenworth. The restaurant's menu will be a reflection of Gann's world travels, offering a varying cuisine found in countries and cultures around the globe.
Here, she talks to the Times about the new restaurant and what customers can expect.
1. Elena, after years of operating Chilingos, why did you decide to open Bassa Prua in downtown Leavenworth? And tell us about the new restaurant's name.
"Opening Chilingos was the realization of a dream. After selling food to local businesses and construction sites for a few years, I needed a storefront to operate out of.
"As it grew and developed into what I have always been passionate about, global cuisine, I began to feel divided between the business I started and the business I was becoming. I was fortunate to find someone who believed they could build on cafe Chilingo and make it their own so that I could further develop the direction I was going.
"Bassa Prua is the Italian translation for the low bow of a ship. The low bow, or Bassa Prua, is the part of the ship that breaks through the water when embarking on a journey. Because it also supports the figurehead, we chose the figurehead as our logo — it supported our concept of global cuisine."
2. Bassa Prua is described as a Euro bar with global cuisine. What are the most tantalizing dishes that will be featured?
"My first five years in the military were spent in the Navy as a cook. While stationed on board the USS Simon Lake, I traveled from Italy to Spain, France, Greece, Morocco, Japan and Puerto Rico.
"Even now, 20 years later, what I remember the most was the food. My friends and I ate our way through the streets of Athens eating feta cheese tarts and gyros dripping with flavorful juices and fresh tzaziki. In Paris, there were crusty baguettes with butter and thin slices of cured meat. Morocco was flavorful rice with nuts, berries and herbs, roasted quail and spiced tea.
"When I remember those countries I visited and loved, I remember the look, smell and taste of the wonderful food they offered. For me, it was the biggest part of the experience.
"I am attempting to recreate some of those experiences by offering weekly dinners that include a menu specific to a region, as well as music and customs that may apply. Some of the weekly menus will feature items such as stuffed and roasted quail, fresh pasta made in-house with shaved truffle and duck confit and short ribs braised in locally roasted coffee and fresh figs."
3. You'll be offering organic, sustainable food from local vendors, plus gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and dairy free dishes. Why is this important to you?
Page 2 of 3 - "Leavenworth is a plentiful resource for fresh produce and local meat. It affords the opportunity for me and my staff to be connected with the product we provide.
"When we can go to the farmers market and interact with the people who provide our ingredients, it allows us to deepen our connection with the food we prepare. Being aware of the process by which our animals were processed encourages a deeper respect and appreciation for what we do and what others in our industry do.
"It is also just a small contribution to our community and environment that helps lighten our footprint. For health reasons, I avoid gluten whenever possible. I want others who have food allergies to be able to enjoy any meal on a special occasion without worrying.
"Many people are more conciencious about their health and lifestyle choices. The restaurant industry has a great opportunity to serve the public in a new way by making specialty items available to people with food preferences or restrictions. We continue to embrace that opportunity."
4. Every menu you create will be customized to match patrons' taste and style. How will you go about this? Can you also tell us about the wine club and tastings and cooking classes?
"To keep up with a busy dinner service, it is important to have as much preparation done as possible. Stopping midstream to recreate a menu item can be a challenge when busy.
"By offering dinner that is by reservation only, we have the ability to plan our meals very carefully. It makes it easier to make adjustments to dishes and prepare them fresh without compromising the quality or service of our other guests and take any food allergies into consideration.
"Our dinner menu will rotate weekly for the type of cuisine as well as seasonally. Our first four weeks of dinners are scheduled to be French, Spanish, Italian and Cajun.
"Our wine club will be an opportunity for members to taste different wines, pair them with foods, share recipes and entertain with them. Each quarter we will create a tasting menu that will consist of about 10 small plates of food and three mini-cocktails for one set price. Our cooking classes for children and adults will be posted online after the new year."
5. What are you most looking forward to in offering gourmet creations from all over the world?
"When people join together for a meal as friends or family, it is often to share an occasion, create a memory or celebrate. As a culture, we choose to do that with food.
"Not only does food nourish our bodies, but it is an expression of creativity, passion and skill. I look forward to taking that knowledge and elevating those moments, celebrations and coming together of hearts and minds over a meal that is spectacular, memorable and inspiring.
Page 3 of 3 - "To celebrate our grand opening, we plan on having a New Year's Eve masquerade ball with a multicultural theme.
“We hope that our attendees will compliment the international appetizer buffet with fantastic globally-themed costumes or masks."
— Rimsie McConiga