Ocean Crest Resort’s Jess Owen Mixes up Local Ingredients with Global Flare

Ocean Crest Resort
Two Lobster Tail Dinner. Photo credit: Ocean Crest Resort

Out along the Washington Coast, where there are more pieces of driftwood than people, it can be hard to be noticed for excellence in almost any craft. Yet, up on a bluff from the breakers of the Pacific, one restaurant is becoming a Pacific Northwest leader for amazing cuisine, unique dishes and delectable delicacies. Inspired by Jess Owen’s creativity, the Ocean Crest Resort and Restaurant is one of the finest dining destinations in Washington State. Since the restaurant opened its doors in 1963, those who enjoy quality, local foods have fallen in love with the Ocean Crest. Over 50 years later, the delicious meals and incredible flavors found at the Ocean Crest continue in the spirit of its creators.

Grandma’s Famous Clam Chowder is the dish that put the Ocean Crest on the food map of Washington State. Originally made a decade before the restaurant was built, the success of the clam chowder helped lead to its creation. The Ocean Crest is a family business, which Jess Owen is a part of. As Jess grew up along the coast, he found himself learning and watching the family business. He started helping out in the kitchen at around 10-years-old, learning the ins and outs of what went on at a restaurant.

“When I was 10, I was cooking breakfast for the summer,” Jess said nonchalantly. “When I was 11, I started getting paid and was a prep cook. Over the years I have done just about every position there is, and when needs arose in the kitchen, I would help out.”

During that time and throughout his adolescence, Jess was able to develop his own flair and flavor when cooking. He describes his dishes as dynamic, with bold flavors and textures. He also likes to keep the recipes as simple as possible, using the minimum amount of ingredients to accomplish the perfect taste and texture. Using seafood found in the region, and spices shipped from across the ocean, Jess has created unique blends that leave his guests’ taste buds happy.

Ocean Crest Resort
The foods Jess creates are simple, yet delicious and full of unique and mouthwatering flavors, like this mixed seafood grill featuring grouper with Citrus Parmesan Butter, Togarashi Ahi with Thai Teriyaki, and Extra Jumbo Prawns with Honey Sesame Glaze and Kiwi Mango Salsa. Photo courtesy: Ocean Crest Restort

Jess’s inspiration comes all over the place.

“Having a deep knowledge of the business, I have been able to keep the best of what other chefs have brought in, while tweaking existing recipes,” Jess shared. “For other things, I’ll look for inspiration in cookbooks and online. If I find something that I like, I’ll try to make it or use parts of it to combine recipes. Other times, I just get an idea in my head and go for it, free styling it.”

Jess’s free styling has been a game changer for cuisine in Grays Harbor and in the Pacific Northwest. Unlike a century ago, today’s chefs have access to the best ingredients in the world. This means he can combine local ingredients with global flare to craft delectable tastes unlike those found anywhere else.

Ocean Crest Resort
Spicy and tasty, the Sichuan Clam pasta is one of many amazing dishes cooked up by Jess Owen. Photo credit: Ocean Crest Resort

Just a few of these incredible fusion meals offered at the Ocean Crest include razor clam fritters with chili aioli, Sichuan seasoned mussels, a pork chop with Kurobuta bourbon bacon jam and cranberries, and of course the award winning Asian Dungeness crab with chocolate chili sauce.

Like most top chefs, Jess is picky about the quality of the ingredients he starts with. Take wild crab as an example. In the restaurant business, most wild crab is already taken out of the shell. “You need to have the right tenderness and flavor,” Jess explained. “I enjoy the crab I get from Pacific Seafood out of Mukilteo. They are buying from all around the Pacific Northwest and the way they treat the crab makes it perfect for our menu. We always make sure that we get the highest quality crab because customers deserve the best. We refuse to mix different crab meat together.”

Ocean Crest Resort
Jess and his wife Sarah giving a cooking talk at the Chocolate of the Beach Festival. Photo courtesy: Ocean Crest Resort

Jess’s culinary masterpieces can be found every day at the Ocean Crest Resort along the North Beach of Grays Harbor. He also participates in many events around the state, including the always amazing and delicious Chocolate on the Beach Festival. On February 22-25, 10 miles of chocolate dishes and drinks will stretch from Moclips to Copalis. Highlighted by cocktail throw-downs and chocoholics awards for food dishes – chocolate lovers will find themselves in awe at the amazing concoctions.

During the Chocolate on the Beach Festival, Jess can be found at the Ocean Crest for a breakfast with super hero’s event, and then leading a chef’s demonstration at Pacific Beach.

For more information about dining at the restaurant or to make reservations, visit the Ocean Crest Resort website or call 800-684-8439.

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