"It's where my heart is. It's also where I like to do my cooking."
That's Brad Root, co-owner of Roots Restaurant in Camas, talking about his passion for Pacific Northwest cuisine – specifically, that of the North Bank of the Columbia River.
Since arriving from Portland in 2003, this former protégé of Wildwood's Cory Schreiber has built a locally-sourced mini-empire in Camas, opening Roots on S.E. 34th Street and later, 360 Degree Pizzeria and wood-fired restaurant Lapellah.
Though Camas isn't usually thought of as a mecca of "green" cuisine, Root's commitment to local farmers, fishers and ranchers rivals that of any restaurant owner in the Rose City. "They are paying taxes and supporting the local economy," Root said. "Why should I pay someone else farther away?"
Looking for fresh peppers in January? Chances are Roots, along with 360 Degrees in Camas and Lapellah in Grand Central, won't have them. "I don't buy produce from places like Mexico," Root said. "If it's out-of-season here, I won't cook with it."
Instead, Root fills his menu with local favorites like King Salmon, Cattail Creek lamb shank and Dungeness crab with seasonal produce like cauliflower, pumpkins and pears. Vintages from Washington state fill the restaurant's wine list.
And according to Root, all three of his restaurants are committed to sustainable practices, with over 80 percent of Lapellah's waste getting compacted. "What's really important is that our restaurant be part of the community," Root said. "It's important to give some of it back."
With that goal in mind, Root plans to celebrate the sixth anniversary of his signature restaurant by holding a food drive for needy local residents Nov. 3-8. During that week, diners bringing in six or more cans of food to the restaurant receive a free starter course at Roots restaurant. All donations will go to the Clark County Food Bank.
Roots Restaurant and 360 Degree Pizzeria are located at Riverstone Marketplace, 19215 S.E. 34th in Camas; Lapellah is located at Grand Central, 2520 Columbia House Blvd. in Vancouver.