Seaside isn’t just taffy and antelope jerky these days.

Take a seat at Maggie’s on the Prom and gaze at Tillamook Head while dining on Cedar River Farms filet mignon or Columbia River Chinook salmon with yuzu-sake butter sauce.

Maggie’s new chef Jason Lancaster, 40, said he always wanted to live on the Oregon Coast. Upon arrival in Astoria five years ago, the Seattle native joined the Bridgewater Bistro as a sous chef and graduated to chef de cuisine. At The Cove at the Peninsula Golf Course in Long Beach, Washington, he enhanced his reputation with accolades that included an Iron Chef Goes Coastal award and a “Gerry Frank’s Picks” selection.

When The Cove golf course property sold, Lancaster turned to his hobbies of surfing and traveling while casting a net for his next opportunity.

The timing was right as longtime acquaintances Andy and Sadie Mercer of Maggie’s on the Prom were in the search for a leader in the kitchen.

“When the job opened they asked me if I was interested in doing it,” Lancaster said. “I’ve always loved this place, so I jumped on it.”

Lancaster said he plans to use fresh, local ingredients while offering “a nice eclectic menu.”

“I like to take a lot of different ingredients and put them in a contemporary environment,” he said.

Lancaster seeks to focus on fresh, local products, provided by connections among regional foragers and fishermen.

“I have a good network,” he said. “I really want to showcase what we have here in Oregon and Washington in a contemporary environment like this restaurant. We have amazing products here — the freshest fish, mushrooms, fruit, huckleberries. You don’t even need to search for it. It comes through your back door.”

The uniqueness of the Oregon and Washington product “really sets us apart,” Lancaster said. “That’s one thing I really want to bring to the table here — emphasis on fresh, wild, the best possible products I can put on the plate.”

Lancaster said he hopes his kitchen will be in “the realm of Bridgewater, Carruthers, all the really hot dining places in Astoria. I really want to achieve that.”

When he’s not in the kitchen, inspiration comes from Lancaster’s hobbies of surfing, hiking and traveling.

“I’m a pretty avid traveler,” he said. “When I’m not working, between jobs, I go surfing. It actually provides inspiration in the kitchen because you’re traveling and eating cool food and you think, ‘Wow, I can do this!’ It really adds depth to your menu when you’re experiencing different cultures and eating different food.”

— R.J. Marx

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