Where There’s “SMOKED!,” There’s Fantastic Food Theater

Staff Writer
Café Nordo's latest dinner show celebrates the Spaghetti Western
Courtesy of Café Nordo.
Café Nordo's "SMOKED!"

Sidling into Pioneer Square with a cowboy swagger, Café Nordo returns with another deliciously eclectic culinary and theatrical spectacular, this time inspired by Spaghetti Westerns: “SMOKED!”

Running now through June 23 on Thursday through Sunday evenings at The Kitchen at Delicatus, Nordo’s latest dinner show interweaves a creative four-course feast and cocktail pairings with the unfolding drama of a small farming town taking on Monsanto-style agribusiness. The dinner theater series has always favored the freshest in local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients, but "SMOKED!" pushes food production itself to the forefront. With this dark David-and-Goliath tale, an intriguing menu full of rich, smoky flavors and a spirited score by award-winning composer Annastasia Workman, could this be the most thrilling Café Nordo yet?

Ostensibly the brainchild of an elusive chef by the name of Nordo Lefesczki, this quirky dinner theater series has produced three dinner shows with wine and three cocktail shows since 2009, racking up four Seattle Times Footlight Awards—notably as “Kookiest, Most Delicious New Dinner Theatre”—and developing a fervent cult following along the way.

The seventh show in the series, “SMOKED!” adapts the Spaghetti Western subgenre, popularized by Sergio Leone in the 1960s, to dramatize the contemporary fight over genetically modified food patents and seed ownership as an actual showdown with gun-toting thugs. The show stars a number of Seattle’s brightest talents—Ray Tagavilla, Ryan Higgins, Mark Siano, Opal Peachy, Maximillian Davis and Evan Mosher—as well as the lovely Kate Hess from Los Angeles, with live music by the Café Nordo house band.

The innovative Nordo kitchen also pays homage to the Spaghetti Western—with a wacky combination of Italian influences and cowboy cuisine. Where else might you see a menu with both a “spaghetti” made of spring vegetables with house-made smoked mozzarella “meatballs” and a Painted Hills oxtail chili served with fried corn pudding?

True to the show’s name, the feast also highlights smoky flavors, starting with alfalfa hay-smoked popcorn and ending with rhubarb pandowdy (a variant of cobbler) topped with fennel whipped cream and smoked salt. Alongside poetically named cocktails such as “The Pine Box” with Douglas Fir liqueur, peaty scotches will also be available: Highland Park single malt and The Black Grouse, a highly rated blend.

The menu’s biggest surprise, however, is the sunflower seed risotto. “It's a cake of pressure-cooked sunflower seeds flavored with beets that resembles risotto.  It's unique and earthy and healthy,” raves "SMOKED!" script-writer and all-around Nordo collaborator Terry Podgorski, who with director Erin Brindley fields questions on behalf of the famously inaccessible Chef Nordo.

To buy tickets for “SMOKED!” visit Brown Paper Tickets.

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