Story by Kate Rivera, Photographs by Dennis Rivera
Serendipity brought Chef Zach Wellman to PANACHE in Newport. After returning to the United States at the end of July, 2011 following a stint in Mongolia for the Peace Corps, Zach spent some time traveling and visiting family. During one such trip to Salem and the Oregon coast, he found his usual dinner choice closed for the evening, and turned to PANACHE – then owned and operated by Tom and Linda Peddecord — which had a menu that piqued his interest. After dining there and falling in love with the atmosphere and enjoying his meal, he inquired about the “for sale” sign outside the cozy, free-standing restaurant.
A few short months later, Zach was the new owner of PANACHE, serving up a fine dining experience with an emphasis on seasonal, local, and organic foods. Tom and Linda stuck around for about a week to help Zach with the transition, and they left him a gift of all their recipes, which he says he’s worked to modify to his own cooking style. The signature dish of the restaurant also came along with the purchase; a lemon-marionberry napoleon, which is a puff pastry, layered with lemon curd and whipped cream, served with Oregon marionberry compote.
Zach believes that buying local is one of the most important things for a business within a local community to strive for, and he purchases as much produce and meat from Oregon and Washington as possible. His goals for next spring and summer are to continue developing relationships with local food producers for even greater buying options within the area. He’s also particularly proud of his wine, beer, and spirits selections, having spent about 8 weeks traveling around Oregon, conducting taste tests for inclusion on the PANACHE menus. A peek at the lists reveals well-rounded choices for wine and spirits, and a modest beer menu.
Zach grew up in Colorado and graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Denver with an Associate of Applied Science, Culinary Arts Degree in May of 2005 and a Bachelor of Science, Food Service Management in November of 2006, with Honors in both programs. He did a culinary internship at the Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World, an experience “serving a lot of people, which taught me the power of prepping!”
Zach’s first job in a kitchen was at a private yacht club on Long Island, NY, where he worked for four summers. He says the experience he gained there provides a little bit of influence and inspiration for his current menu. When asked if he has a favorite type of dish to prepare, he laughingly compares the question to asking a parent to choose a favorite child, saying “I like to do a little bit of everything.”
After his experience in the Peace Corps, where he was a public health volunteer in Mongolia, Zach came home with an appreciation for the rustic simplicity of Mongolian cooking, and he has a goal of hosting some special Mongolian-dinner events this winter. Other special events in his sights include chef’s dinners, and beer and wine pairing dinners, as well as a prix fixe menu on New Year’s Eve Day and Valentine’s Day weekend.
When not in the PANACHE kitchen, Zach enjoys camping at Cape Lookout and Beverly Beach state parks, and he’s looking forward to having his dog move from Colorado to Oregon, but he otherwise says he’s “married to the restaurant”… surely good news for his customers.
614 West Olive Street
Newport, OR 97365
Sunday: 4pm to 9:30pm
Monday through Thursday: 4:30pm to 9:30pm
Friday and Saturday:
4:30pm to 11pm
Closed Wednesdays November 1st through June 15th
Now open for lunch 6 days a week, Thursday through Tuesday from 11am to 2:30pm