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Zac Janssen

Executive Chef

To work in a place as diverse as the Columbia River Gorge, which provides such a bounty of food, is something for which I am very passionate. Nurturing trusted partnerships with local vendors like Country Natural Beef, Pacific Seafood, Conway Family Farm, Charlies Produce, and many others allows us to bring the best product to our guests.

- Chef Zac

What are your places of inspiration?

Anytime I travel I seek out delicious local food and beverage that excites me.  Although I find inspiration in many locations, top of the list for me is Southeast Asia, both Thailand and Vietnam have amazing cuisines. They focus on keeping food simple and bringing forward the foods natural flavors.

Do you have a favorite cuisine?

Oh, this is hard, I have been classically trained in French cuisine.  The time I spent in France was bar none the best.  The focus of French Cuisine is simplicity, an appreciation for fresh ingredients and simple flavors. The influence the French had on the Vietnamese cuisine is evident and why I’m drawn to this style of cooking.

How long have you been cooking?

I have been in the kitchen since I was 14, so roughly 24 years. Professionally, after getting my culinary degree, since 2004. I added on a baking & pastry degree in 2009.

What are your favorite wines?

I prefer red wine, and pinot noir, malbec, tempranillo and Cote du Rhones are at the top of the list for me. For white, I prefer a dry white wine or a rose.

Who or what inspires you?

I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my mom, who has always been in the industry, and my grandma.  In high school I was able to complete a semester of college credit in food classes so naturally it was easy to gravitate to the culinary arts. The drive and work ethic I have comes from both my parents.

What do you consider when menu crafting?

Seasonality and what can be sources locally are at the top of my list. Keeping it simple and making it great is what it is about. My goal is to letting the food speak for itself.

What is your favorite season?

I love both spring and fall. Fall brings the best mushrooms.

Favorite Ingredient?

Scallops or butter.

What would you be if you weren’t a chef?

A kiteboarding beach bum that cooks tacos at night somewhere tropical.

Where might we find you outside of the kitchen? In the great outdoors with the family. I’m a busy guy not much downtime.

What is your favorite to cook at home? I am an Iowa boy at heart, so pork is what’s for dinner! Mexican or Asian are my go-to flavors.

What are some of your favorite restaurants? I have a lot of favorites honestly. Ox, Xlb, Ha & VL, Sa Bai Thai, Hat Yai, Higgins, Paley’s, Short Round, Roister, The Publican, Broder, Kim Jong Grillin and Le Pigeon, just to name a few.

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