The Feeder: Hannah MacDonald, Brasserie Four
What They Feed: classic French bistro taking inspiration from farms of the Walla Walla Valley
Seeders They Support: Morning Mist Nursery, Hayshaker Farm, Edwards Farm, Locati Farm, Clipper Farm, Blue Valley Meats, Upper Dry Creek Ranch, Woodward Canyon
Feeders They Support: Monteillet Fromagerie, Penn Cove Shellfish, Foods in Season
Hannah MacDonald, chef & owner of Brasserie Four in Walla Walla, moved to Washington from upstate New York as a young girl because her father “wanted to live in the wild west”. Growing up, she was enamored with French culture, and at 18 years old Hannah went to college in Paris and immersed herself. She boarded with a few different families that first year and was exposed to traditional French dining culture and country food, including plenty of bread, cheese and wine. It was her time with a couple who had three daughters that had the greatest influence on her. Now Hannah and each of the daughters have their own restaurants. She continues to visit them each year and use them as a resource for old recipes.
Her experience in France led Hannah to change paths. She dropped out of university after the first year and went to Portland, Oregon to study at Le Cordon Bleu, then moved to Southern California. An extravagant meal with expensive bottles of wine on a friend’s dad’s credit card at Mille Fleurs Restaurant in San Diego got the chef’s attention and she managed to land an internship there. Her tactic to “get her foot in the door” worked. She was 19 years old.
Mille Fleurs was a very European kitchen and there was only one other female chef. Hannah learned a lot, from savory to pastry, as well as an early appreciation for farm-to-table cooking. She fondly remembers going with the chef to pick up produce at San Diego’s now iconic Chino Farm.
Her early cooking career took her to Europe, through Switzerland and France and then back to the US, in New York and Hawaii. At the age of 27 she returned to Walla Walla with her new son, to be closer to her family. Hannah opened Brasserie Four because she wanted to create a place that she would want to go to: somewhere to drink French wine and eat good food, somewhere she could bring her son. Considering her experiences of hunting with her father growing up, and cooking around Europe and California, “sourcing locally is just part of who she is and everywhere she’s been”. Brasserie Four is about making simple, classic French food using great ingredients: every day Hannah makes soup and quiche and gets deliveries of mussels and oysters. She has a couple of go-to farmers that grow her beautiful greens and raise chickens for farm eggs, among other things.
When Hannah opened Brasserie Four she originally wanted to call it Beurre et Terre (meaning “Butter and Dirt”), but her parents advised against it saying that no one would be able to pronounce the name. She opted to go the simple route with Brasserie Four because it’s a Brasserie and 4 is its address.
On opening in 2008, Hannah had no idea how busy Walla Walla would get. Now there are more tourists in town than ever before, but to her and many of her regular customers, Walla Walla is still home.
“Brasserie Four is a great melting pot of the local area and everyone who has experience outside of Walla Walla”
“Now it’s to the point where people just walk in with the coolest stuff” – on Hannah finding and sourcing local ingredients in Walla Walla
“I just get the best ingredients I can possibly get and try not to !*&^%$ them up. That’s what French food is all about”
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