Friday, August 28, 2015

Interview with David Gunawan, Executive Chef of Farmer’s Apprentice

--> The following interview was made possible by the NW Tastemaker, a culinary travel publication forthcoming from Northwest Travel Magazine. To read more interviews with the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest, visit Northwest Travel Magazine and TableTalkNorthwest.com.

Photo by Carlo Ricci
David Gunawan, Executive Chef of Farmer’s Apprentice

The name says it all. Opened in 2013, Farmer's Apprentice almost exclusively uses hyper-local ingredients, and Chef David Gunawan is inspiring diners and colleagues alike with his dedication to supporting local farms and farmlands.

It takes an environmentalist's appreciation of agriculture to understand how Chef Gunawan's version of farm-to-table dining is unique. It's the little things. For instance, he features meat from heritage breeds of pig to offer diners compelling flavors, and in so doing, he is simultaneously championing non-industrial pig breeds for future generations of chefs. These breeds of pig cost more, but surprisingly, Farmer's Apprentice is able to maintain mid-range prices for diners. Chef Gunawan would rather buy whole pigs and butcher them in-house than buy lesser breeds to reduce costs. Farmer's Apprentice is dedicated to sustainability and flavor over cutting corners. Before opening Farmer's Apprentice, Chef Gunawan cooked at In De Wulf in Belgium (one Michelin star); West; and Wildebeest.

1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?

I think Northwest cuisine is broad. Northern California, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver each have their own identity. As a whole, we Vancouverites aren’t as strong in the farmer-chef relationship. We see a much stronger bond in Portland, and the unity of trust between farmer and chef down south is far more dedicated to the farm-to-table movement.

The Vancouver market is dictated by financial incentive for obvious reasons. The Portland style of restaurant is more based on austerity. The city also boasts a very dynamic subversive counter culture. Portland is an ecologically aware city. Sustainable farm-to-table cuisine is almost expected. The city boasts the most college-educated populous in the entire nation.

Seattle is guided by the standard of a large metropolis. It is a little more diverse than Portland, and there are a few lavish establishments to cater to the growing tech industry. It has a stronger Japanese influence than Portland. The food is still very much market-driven, as most cities are in the Northwest. Seattle is a very left wing city, and again, they also have a very strong chef and farmer relationship.

Vancouver is unique due to its ethnic diversity, especially the historical contributions made by Chinese and Japanese immigrants. As a small city, we seem to support an exorbitant amount of chain restaurants, and this makes it very difficult for an aspiring small-business owner to start a venture without a lot of capital. Hence, Vancouver cuisine is very safe, ubiquitous and predictable. We are less subversive. We have amazing Asian restaurants that are comparable in quality to those in Hong Kong, China, India and the like, but drawing from so many cultures has created a Vancouver menu that I think is confused in some ways. We have no adherence to one culture but, rather, many cultures. 

2. Who are six of your favorite purveyors that you regularly work with?

Solefood, for the quality of produce as well as its community initiatives.
Foxglove Farm— Michael Ableman is the pioneer of urban agriculture and also an author and a teacher in ecology. His produce is phenomenal. It is grown with intelligent care and intention.
Stein Mountain Farm Oreganics and Sapo Bravo Organics in Lytton, for all around solid produce grown with love and respect.
Outlandish Shellfish— They have amazing shellfish selections
Wu Wan Wo— This is my latest discovery: a phenomenal soy sauce from Taiwan aged in a terra cotta clay for two years and fermented in the mountains of Taiwan. They also use the salt gathered from the deep sea off of the coast of Taiwan.

3. When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?

I love Long Noodle House on Main and 33rd.
Dynasty Seafood Restaurant on Willow and Broadway is also very good.
I love Maebam, as well as Nook Restaurant— both in my neighbourhood.

4. Who are two other Northwest chefs that you admire?

Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene. He understands vegetables and the quality of each ingredient. 

5. In your opinion, is there an area of Northwest cooking that doesn't receive enough attention?

Chinese. I think we devalue Chinese food and do not recognize the complexity and history of Chinese food. It is a very intricate and delicate cuisine, especially real Cantonese food. 

6. Looking toward the future, what are you most excited to do in the kitchen?

I think the term Northwest cuisine is very ambiguous. Every region has its own style, depending on the demographic and what the geography encompasses. Currently, we are fermenting and preserving a lot of things. I would like to serve more fish, after being in Japan. We do not have the same diversity in our seafood as Japan.

Farmer's Apprentice
1535 W 6th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6H 3G1
Canada
www.farmersapprentice.ca

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Interview with Andrea Carlson, Executive Chef of Burdock and Co.

--> The following interview was made possible by the NW Tastemaker, a culinary travel publication forthcoming from Northwest Travel Magazine. To read more interviews with the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest, visit Northwest Travel Magazine and TableTalkNorthwest.com.

Andrea Carlson, Executive Chef of Burdock and Co.

Chef Andrea Carlson is a chef who helped make locavore dining affordable in Vancouver. Originally from Toronto, she didn't spend much time in the kitchen as a kid, but upon purchasing a New York Times cookbook at the age of 13, she was hooked. After graduating from Dubrulle Culinary School, she cooked at Raincity Grill, Sooke Harbour House, and Bishop's, and in these establishments, she learned just how many delicious things grow within a hundred miles of the Vancouver. Chef Carlson quickly developed lasting relationships with farmers, both near Vancouver and in downtown itself.

In 2013, she opened Burdock and Co. with the goal of serving seasonal, locally inspired dishes for mid-market prices. The B.F.C. Spicy Burdock Fried Chicken, which comes with crunchy, house-made kimchi, is $16, and the Crispy Pig Face Ramen, which touts a smoked chili broth, is $14. Chef Carlson continues to find inspiration for her dishes through her obsession with gardening and taking long hikes just outside of Vancouver.

1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?

I think Northwest cuisine has a rich diversity of offerings. We have a temperate climate, abundant natural landscapes and access to ocean and lakes. Our palates have matured, and cultural influences have further shaped our coastal identity. The locavore movement has grown our knowledge of foraging and local product, and we have countless culinary resources available to us. Chefs are making the best use of all that we have.

2. Who are six of your favorite purveyors that you regularly work with?

Mikuni Wild Harvest
Hazelmere Organic Farm— Naty King runs one of BC's oldest organic farms, and she has an eye toward working directly with chefs to provide excellent products.
Urban Digs— One of the many new small urban farms who, in addition to veggies, raise ethical meats. They also offer an innovate 'beastie box' C.S.A., which we sell at our sister shop, Harvest Community Foods Grocer.
Glorious Organics— They have long set the standard for the finest organic produce and gorgeous flowers, roots and everything in-between.
SOLEfood Farm— An innovation and socially responsible Vancouver Downtown East Side urban agriculture project. They provide job training and employment to folks in the neighbourhood with barriers to employment, as well as access to fresh food. 
East Van Roasters­— 8

3. When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?

I'm really enjoying Ask For Luigi's. It's a really beautiful, intimate spot for delicious pastas.
Vij's is a vancouver classic, serving always excellent Indian food with exceptional service.
Cinara— Chef Lukas's recently opened Italian restaurant. I've had some outstanding dishes there.

4. Who are two other Northwest chefs that you admire?

Robert Belcham— He's an amazing chef and mentor. His restaurant Campagnolo has long had the strongest charcuterie program in town, and his down-to-earth nature makes him an inspiring business leader as well. 

5. In your opinion, is there an area of Northwest cooking that doesn't receive enough attention?

I think we have a strong naturopathic and holistic community in the area. I think our health-conscious community would benefit from greater influence from cooks in these fields. I also think that we need to continue to have a greater spotlight on sustainability, especially oceans. It cannot be emphasized enough. 

6. Looking toward the future, what are you most excited to do in the kitchen?

Product Diversity. I get excited looking at the potential for creating different product lines, whether it's gluten free bread or a tasty nougat. We're seeing a tonne of new local food startups, and it's giving consumers delectable choices they've never had before. Beyond knowing your farmer at the market, now you can know the origin of your sea chi (kelp kim chi) and freshly brewed ginger beer. 

Burdock and Co.
2702 Main Street
Vancouver, BC V5T 3E8
Canada
http://burdockandco.com/

Monday, August 24, 2015

Interview with Stephanie Kimmel, Executive Chef of Marché

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The following interview was made possible by the NW Tastemaker, a culinary travel publication forthcoming from Northwest Travel Magazine. To read more interviews with the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest, visit Northwest Travel Magazine and TableTalkNorthwest.com.

Stephanie Kimmel, Executive Chef of Marché and Owner of Marché Provisions, Marché Museum Cafe, and Route 5 NW Wine Bar


A pioneer of seasonal, sustainable, and local cuisine in the Pacific Northwest, Chef Stephanie Kimmel opened her first restaurant, Excelsior Café, in Eugene, Oregon, in 1972. With just nine tables, it blended Eugene's free-wheelin' philosophy with just a touch of class, thanks to Chef Kimmel's knowledge of French cooking techniques. But it was Chef Kimmel's simple obsession with exceptionally delicious things that really made the difference, and Excelsior Café is credited for a number of Oregon firsts: It was the first Oregon restaurant to serve Oregon-made wines; bake traditional French baguettes; and serve espresso from a bona fide espresso machine.

In 1998, Chef Kimmel opened Marché, Eugene's preeminent fine-dining restaurant. Her kitchen ethos remains the same: Prepare seasonal dishes with a nod toward classic, French cuisine, and even if no two nights' menus are the same, make sure that all of the dishes come bearing exceptional flavors. In addition to Marché, Chef Kimmel owns Marché Provisions, Marché Museum Cafe, and Route 5 NW Wine Bar.

1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?

Today's Northwest cuisine is ingredient-driven and sensitive to seasonal ebb and flow, with a simplicity and sense of place made possible by the growing abundance of super-local ingredients from the ocean, forests, farms, ranches, orchards, dairies and vineyards of our region. Historically, there has always been a pride in our amazing natural resources. I'm thinking of the chowder houses and crab shacks on the coast; berry festivals and seasonal truck farms in the Willamette Valley; the orchard fruit of southern Oregon and eastern Washington; and the melons, cattle and grains east of the Cascades. Ironically though, past restaurants tended to import their ingredients from all over, regardless of season, and the techniques used in the kitchen were either "fancy" and continental, or ultra casual diner-style. There really wasn't an identifiable Northwest cuisine. Fortunately, all that has changed over the last thirty-to-forty years—at first slowly, then picking up speed in the last decade or two—bringing us to the explosion of awareness of our local bounty that we see today.

2. Who are six of your favorite purveyors that you regularly work with?   

 Groundwork Organics, for their commitment to providing a year-round supply of exquisite and carefully harvested vegetables, including many heirloom varieties, both to the back door of the restaurant and regional farmer's markets.

Long's Meat Market is a real old-fashioned butcher shop, brokering a full range of sustainably raised meat and poultry from the region, including Knee Deep Farm, Tails & Trotters, Laughing Stock Farm, and Anderson Ranch.

Mycological Natural Products, for foraged truffles and wild mushrooms, both fresh and dried.

Our wonderful local fishermen from Brandywine Fisheries, who bring us black cod and Dungeness crab in the winter, and albacore, halibut and salmon from spring to late fall.

Juniper Grove Farm (Redmond), Ancient Heritage Creamery (Madras and newly in Portland), and Rogue Creamery (Central Point) are amazing producers of authentic, traditional cheeses with gorgeous texture and flavor.

Jacobsen Salt Company— I'm just excited that Ben Jacobsen had the vision to launch this project harvesting salt from the cold waters of the Pacific and drying it naturally. He's producing a fabulous finishing sal, on a par with the great salts of the world. I also admire the related products they are coming up with, from a huge variety of salts flavored with iconic Oregon ingredients (pinot noir, Stumptown coffee, white truffle) to caramels and licorice.

Oregon Olive Mill— It's so fun to see this classically Mediterranean ingredient flourishing in Oregon! We've loved the opportunity to serve it to our guests in Route 5 and to have it on the shelves in Provisions.    

3. When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?    

In Eugene, our go-to is Thai food at Sabai or Mexican street-food at Plaza Latina. In Ashland, I always enjoy Amuse, as well as New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro in nearby Talent (they have an outstanding wine list). In Portland, some of my favorites are Castagna, Ava Gene's, Bar Avignon and Little Bird.

4. Who are two other Northwest chefs that you admire? Why?

I love Cathy Whims of Nostrana in Portland, for her deep knowledge of the authentic flavors and techniques of Italy. I also greatly admire John Sundstrom of Lark in Seattle for his connection to the resources of that sub-region and the care that goes into the execution of the plates at his restaurant. They share an entreprenurial spirit that lends vitality and longevity to their expanding enterprises.

5.  In your opinion, is there an area of Northwest cooking that doesn't receive enough attention?   

I think there is a huge opportunity to explore the areas outside of over-exposed Portland and Seattle—to look at the unique ingredients, artisan producers, wineries and chefs that are flourishing there. There is so much to be learned, to be tasted and to be explored in every corner of this region: a truly northwest terroir.

6. Looking toward the future, what are you most excited to do in the kitchen?     

As consumers demand access to and want to support more local food, I see the use of Northwest products spreading from the restaurants that identify specifically as farm-to-table to casual spots, such as ethnic restaurants and direct-to-consumer groceries and markets. At Marché, we will remain focused on our core mission of celebrating local ingredients at their peak in the market. We will always be on the lookout for talented new farmers and producers. And we will make sure we continue to train and mentor our staff so that our passion and enthusiasm is carried on into the future.

Marché
296 East Fifth Avenue
Eugene, Oregon 97401
www.marcherestaurant.com

Monday, August 17, 2015

Interview with Gregory Gourdet, Executive Chef of Departure Restaurant and Lounge

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The following interview was made possible by the NW Tastemaker, a culinary travel publication forthcoming from Northwest Travel Magazine. To read more interviews with the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest, visit Northwest Travel Magazine and TableTalkNorthwest.com.

Gregory Gourdet, Executive Chef of Departure Restaurant and Lounge

In 2010, Chef Gregory Gourdet joined the swank Departure Restaurant and Lounge, located on the 15th floor of The Nines Hotel in Portland. A celebrity chef who competed in the most recent season of Bravo's Top Chef, Chef Gourdet is known as much for his personality as for his cooking, but how much of a difference is there between the two? Like Gourdet himself, his dishes buzz with energy thanks to a potent blend of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. Chef Gourdet unleashes pan-Asian dishes, with the occasional nod to his Haitian heritage, and he dedicates himself to staying up to date with what his diners need; this includes a regularly updated, healthy selection of paleo, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian-friendly plates. Chef Gourdet began his career working beneath New York-superchef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?

Northwest cuisine is 100% inspired by the amazing bounty of our region. From our farms, woods, mountains and oceans we grow delectable products year-round, and this defines how we cook. We have iconic, historical and region-defining ingredients, from Dungeness crab and salmon, to mushrooms, berries and game meats, and these are just the beginning. The food ranges from simple to bold, but it is a cuisine that lets these ingredients shine.

2. Who are six of your favorite purveyors that you regularly work with?

Nicky USA- All chefs rely on our friends at this great distributer and farm. The service is personalized and the 25-year history of the company shows. They proudly raise and source game meats for kitchens all over town.

Groundwork Organics Farm- This is the first farm that I formed a relationship with when I moved to Oregon six years ago. They carry an array of essential seasonal vegetables throughout the year, and they are at farmers markets year-round.

Marshall’s Hot Sauce- Their sauces are artisan made, specifically using local farm-sourced ingredients and chilies, and they are cooked with time and hand-bottled one by one. I love these sauces for their bright kick. Sarah and Dirk are some of the nicest people around, and the two of them touch each and every bottle they produce.

Oregon Olive Mill- They provide Oregon-made olive oil in an array of flavors, from fruity to peppery and in between.

Flying Fish Company- It's a one-stop for all sustainable seafood needs. Lyf personally takes care of every order and has a great pulse on the freshest catch around, from the Northwest and beyond.

3. When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?

I go to Ox and Ava Gene’s. They both serve really amazing vegetables, and I love that. Greg and Gabi Denton roast most of the vegetables at Ox over a wood-burning grill. They are deeply flavored and delicious. Joshua McFadden highlights farm produce in a bright and fun way. Eating at Ava Gene’s, there will be a moment when you realize you just ate 15 types of vegetables and they were all great. These are both warm and cozy restaurants, as well as perfect locations for a nice night out.

4. Who are two other Northwest chefs that you admire? Why?

I have the utmost admiration and respect for Andy Ricker, the man behind the Pok Pok empire. He is doing something very unique, in the sense that he is bringing a very different cuisine and culture to the states and trying to do so in the most authentic way possible. Doing everything you can to recreate a time and place is very noble. He doesn’t call himself a chef because he doesn’t cook from imagination but instead tries to recreate an exact standard. It is a very different approach and produces delicious results.

I also have great admiration for Vitaly Paley. He owns one of the most iconic Portland institutions, Paley’s Place, with a burgeoning second, Imperial. His restaurants are shrines to the ingredients that make the Northwest great. Cooking method and technique are also of utmost importance to him, and his restaurants are a stomping ground for young chefs looking to work towards becoming a great Portland chef. Many of the best chefs in this town have worked for Vitaly during their career. The man is also tireless, doing pop-ups and events non-stop, nationwide.

5. In your opinion, is there an area of Northwest cooking that doesn't receive enough attention?

I think there are many chefs doing amazing international cuisine in the Northwest. These chefs are pairing our amazing products, such as fish and meats, in specifically ethnic preparations. The other part of this story is farmers and chefs leading the charge in the local growth of international vegetables. I love finding Oregon-grown ginger, turmeric and wasabi root at my market. This is an important story. As more things become accessible to us due to modern times, and more cultures become a part of our culture, we have to look around to keep things fresh and forward.

6. Looking toward the future, what are you most excited to do in the kitchen?
I feel the possibilities of what we can grow and produce here are endless. The Northwest is a lush place full of green vitality and hope. Of all the people I have met recently, the young, new farm-owners have inspired me the most. Farming is really hard work, and it really takes a love of the land and nature to work on one. The quest to grow your own is noble and needed. I am very excited to continue to build a closer relationship with the ingredients in my backyard—both plants and animals—that are grown by friends.

Departure Restaurant and Lounge
525 SW Morrison Street
Portland, Oregon 97204
www.departureportland.com

Friday, August 14, 2015

Interview with Idaho Chef Steve Topple of The Narrows

The following interview was made possible by the NW Tastemaker, a culinary travel publication forthcoming from Northwest Travel Magazine. To read more interviews with the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest, visit Northwest Travel Magazine and TableTalkNorthwest.com.

Chef Steve Topple of Whitetail Club’s Fish and Swim Club and Shore Lodge, which include The Narrows, the Lake Grill, Narrows Grill, and The Cove

Chef Steve Topple, Executive Chef of The Narrows

Born in England, Chef Steve Topple took his first cooking job in North America in 1999 at the age of 24, and he hasn't slowed down since. He's cooked in New York, South Carolina, San Francisco, Colorado, and Georgia, and today, he oversees five kitchens between the Whitetail Club and its sister property, the Shore Lodge, both located in McCall, Idaho.

Chef Topple fuses frontier-style cooking with the techniques and flavors he discovered and developed while cooking around the world. For instance, at The Narrows restaurant, Chef Topple serves Local Idaho Trout Chowder and steaks from Eastern Washington, but you'll also find Maine Lobster Linguine and Seared Georges Bank Scallops on the menu. Chef Topple's mastery of a wide set of cooking techniques makes him one of Idaho's most boundary-pushing chefs.

1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?

Like the region itself, the cuisine of the Pacific Northwest is best defined as rustic yet refined. Many people think meat and potatoes, but it’s so much more. Even hearty dishes enjoy elegant preparations, thanks to our abundance of fresh ingredients. Bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east, I enjoy working with both authentic regional produce and local ingredients found less than 100 miles away, such as huckleberries and morel mushrooms; apples and pears; local Northwest beef and Lava Lake lamb; Pacific salmon and trout; and potatoes, hazelnuts and truffles. This area boasts so many exclusive delicacies that allow me to highlight truly native flavors, and they are unique in every season. 

2. Who are six of your favorite purveyors that you regularly work with?

Double R Ranch and Snake River Farms standout for the most amazing and truly Northwest beef.
For Pacific Northwest seafood and shellfish, I turn to Ocean Beauty.
Fresh and Wild, as the name implies, is my go-to source for local Northwest mushrooms.
And you cannot beat the local produce sourced by family-owned and operated Grasmick Produce.

3. When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?

I must admit that I frequent our restaurants at Shore Lodge a lot. In Boise, I enjoy visiting
Fork and The Dish. When I travel to Washington and Oregon, I must get to a few of my
favorite spots, like Lola in Seattle, or Pok Pok, Imperial, and Tasty n Alder in Portland.

4. Who are two other Northwest chefs that you admire?

Chef Tom Douglas of Seattle is by far one of my favorite chefs in the Northwest. For more
than 25 years, his passion for regional cuisine and restaurant concepts and his continued success has drawn well-deserved attention to the region. It's earned him two James Beard Awards.

Chef Vitaly Paley is another chef I follow and look up to. He has taken the Portland culinary scene by storm, and he owns one of my favorite restaurants, Imperial.

5. In your opinion, is there an area of Northwest cooking that doesn't receive enough
attention?

While Portland and Seattle’s culinary scenes have become media darlings, the great restaurants of Idaho have not received the same attention… yet! Most people are not aware of the great dining destinations in McCall, Hailey or Boise. Pair innovative restaurants such as The Narrows in McCall, C.K.’s Real Food in Hailey and Juniper on 8th in Boise with the stunning surroundings, limitless outdoor adventures and undisputable charm of these Idaho towns, and you’d be hard-pressed to replicate our incredible vacation experience elsewhere.

6. Looking toward the future, what about Northwest cuisine most excites you? What are
you most excited to do in the kitchen?

Diners have really embraced the fresh, seasonal and local cuisine of the Pacific Northwest.
With so much to play with in the region, I’m most excited to continue to introduce our guests to new and unexpected preparations of the ingredients that are found right in our, and their, backyards. I do a lot of research to constantly refresh my menu, and I am eager to create new dishes with hyper-local ingredients. Right now, I’m working with Northwest buffalo from right here in McCall. I'm also working with Crane Farms for fresh vegetables and herbs from right down the road in Riggins, Idaho.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Interview with Kristin Johnson, Chef and Owner of Martilla's Kitchen Catering

--> The following interview was made possible by the NW Tastemaker, a culinary travel publication forthcoming from Northwest Travel Magazine. To read more interviews with the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest, visit Northwest Travel Magazine and TableTalkNorthwest.com.

Kristin Johnson, Chef and Owner of Martilla's Kitchen Catering
 

Based in Prosser, Washington, in the Yakima Valley, Kristin Johnson is a chef poised to maker her mark on Northwest cuisine. Born in Alaska, Chef Johnson developed a love of fresh seafood and local produce, and her family's homemade foods, such as her grandmother's vanilla ice cream, also define her dishes. To make her version of roasted chicken, she slathers the bird with roasted garlic and adds a secret rub; when it appears on the plate, the garlic has caramelized and the rich spices seem to embody the dusty style of Eastern Washington.

Chef Johnson attended Western Oregon University, where she worked at L’Attitude Point One, and through 2014, she headed the kitchen at MOJAVE at Desert Wind Winery. Currently, she offers catering services to the Prosser wine region through her business, Martilla's Kitchen.

1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?
Northwest Cuisine is inspirational and abundant. The Northwest cuisine I enjoy most comes from local farmers and purveyors that offer a refreshing take on traditional French or American cuisine due to what grows in this area. The fare is created organically by simply looking at the ingredients that thrive in the Northwest. And that is how I learned to cook. My family used what we already had growing in the garden combined with what we had in the pantry; and I was better for it. It taught me how to cook, eat and enjoy the food and experience of dining from a young age.

2. Who are six of your favorite purveyors that you regularly work with? Why do they stand out? (feel free to mention your epic spot prawn sourcing!)
1: Bug Girl’s Garden. Prosser, WA. Stacey Gingras is an upbeat owner/farmer with an attention to detail in organic farming and unique heirloom produce that has motivated many of my menus. Her ability to find and produce the greatest ingredients (more Chiles and Tomatoes than you can even fathom) is what makes her farm my favorite to source and visit.

2: Chukar Cherries. Prosser, WA. I love the variety of cherries and products they offer. I grew up in Alaska, and while on a family vacation to Seattle, I remember visiting Chukar Cherries at the Pike Place Market and falling in love. When I moved to Prosser, and had the opportunity to work with them directly and create dinners based around their goods, it was like achieving an accidental goal. I love going into their gift shop to simply browse, snack and brainstorm.

3: JandM Gourmet. Selah, WA. Amazing WA grown mushrooms. A small time mushroom producer. They have a wide variety of Oyster Mushrooms that I find to be elegant and delicate yet full of flavor. The mild pink oysters (yes PINK!) have an amazing nutty quality that add the perfect touch to a salmon dish or cream sauce.

4: SALINITY. Grants Pass, OR. Jody and Laine, owner/operators are a delight to work with. They have a passion for flavor and salt! Their Coconut Lime is one of my absolute favorite items they offer. It inspired many Southwest dishes including Coconut-Lime Seared Scallops and Coconut-Lime Encrusted Salmon. Their fun flavor profiles are a great accompaniment to any dish. They are perfect to “spice up” any dish, sweet or savory.

5: Heavenly Hills Harvest. Sunnyside, WA. Owner/Farmer Merritt Mitchell takes an organic approach to everything agricultural. Her almost free form style farming allows the tastiest produce to thrive by attracting good bugs to flourish and protect the plants. Her farm is completely sustainable and a joy to visit. You can snack while taking a leisurely tour through the rows.

6: Father Michael’s Coffee Roastery. Goldendale, WA. Some of the tastiest coffee I’ve ever had! Roasted to perfection and made with love. Working with Father Michael directly, I was able to create dishes around their specialty roasts that were robust and earthy. His knack for the perfectly toasted coffee bean is impeccable. For anyone driving through Goldendale you can also stop by their bakery…you can’t go wrong with any of their pastries! Of course, to be enjoyed with coffee.


3. When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?
When I’m in Prosser, WA – Wine O’ Clock – great wood fired flatbread pizzas. The Bacon + Pear is my favorite! Plus they produce their own wines under the Bunnell Family Cellars label. And their herb garden is my favorite place to sit on a Sunday afternoon in Springtime.

Richland, WA – Fiction at J. Bookwalter Winery– excellent Wagyu Ribeye. It melts in your mouth, and the Truffle Compound Butter is to-die-for. Don’t forget to start your meal with the Bacon Wrapped Dates…perfect for sharing and getting your appetite really going.

Yakima, WA – Cowiche Canyon Kitchen and Ice House – Cool atmosphere. Great local food/wine/beer/spirits choices. I thoroughly enjoyed their Spring Rolls with Mango!

4. Who are two other Northwest chefs that you admire? Why?
Ann Batson - Corvallis, OR –When I was first getting my start, Ann taught me the skills I needed to appreciate and understand wine at young age; with very little experience she gave me an opportunity.  As a former caterer, turned wine manager she was able to demonstrate the importance of food and wine pairings. Recently she has reinvented her culinary self and opened up shop downtown Corvallis! Ann’s Soup Box – It’s great for a quick/to-g0 style dining. Unique flavor combos made from local, fresh produce.

Chef Janette Starley Conz/Sinclair – Dallas, OR – Another amazing woman who inspired and shaped my culinary style. Janette allowed me to work another job and go to school full time when I was trying to get my foot in the culinary door down in Oregon. She owned restaurant L’attitude Point One. The kitchen was open, so diners could watch us work, which I felt like opened the experience up for those who came. Chef Sinclair taught me the importance of sourcing local, fresh produce. We had mushroom and truffle foragers that came by weekly with chanterelles that could inspire a cookbook! It was a L’attitude that I realized the bounty of the Northwest and how important it is to cook with local food.

5. In your opinion, is there an area of Northwest cooking that doesn't receive enough attention?

I would be ecstatic to see the Yakima Valley, WA get a little bit more attention. People focus on Walla Walla when they think about dining on this (East) side of the mountains. And they should, Walla Walla is a fantastic place to go. However, there are Chef/Family/Winery owned restaurants popping up all over the Yakima and they deserve to be recognized. Prosser has a couple of great eateries, as well as Richland, Sunnyside and Yakima. Many farms and local producers have facilities in the Valley, and it’s due to the abundance of sun and great soils. Which makes it ideal for cuisine here. The closer to the source the better. And of course I might be a little partial…

6. Looking toward the future, what are you most excited to do in the kitchen?

The most exciting thing about Northwest cuisine is how organic it is to create recipes. I can go to a winter farmers market and still gather fresh produce, winter squash and hearty greens that motivate my next meal. I am looking forward to a great year creating unique recipes by partnering with local producers. I can’t wait to expose my style of cooking and dining with everyone. Food is meant to be enjoyed and shared with family and friends or whilst making new ones. Civilization begins at every table.

Martilla's Kitchen
Prosser, WA
www.martillaskitchen.com

Monday, August 10, 2015

Interview with Vitaly Paley, Owner and Executive Chef of Paley’s Place

The following interview was made possible by the NW Tastemaker, a culinary travel publication forthcoming from Northwest Travel Magazine. To read more interviews with the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest, visit Northwest Travel Magazine and TableTalkNorthwest.com.

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Photo by John Valls
Vitaly Paley, Owner and Executive Chef of Paley’s Place Bistro and Bar, Imperial Restaurant and Portland Penny Diner

A master of both classic and contemporary Pacific Northwest cuisine, Chef Vitaly Paley was born near Kiev in the Soviet Union, and by the time he opened Paley's Place Bistro and Bar in Portland in 1995, he'd cooked in Union Square Café, Remi, and Chanterelle, in New York, and the two-Michelin-star Moulin de la Gorce in France. In 2005, he was named James Beard Best Chef Northwest, and today, he owns Imperial Restaurant and the Portland Penny Diner in addition to Paley's Place Bistro and Bar.

Paley's Place is located on busy 21st Avenue in Northeast Portland, but the restaurant is like a country cottage. Guests enter through the front porch, and the 50-seat dining room retains the original living-room look. The seasonal fine-dining dishes offer a mix of local ingredients with Russian and Eastern European influence: hand-chopped American Wagyu Beef Tartare is served with local sweet onion, chopped parsley, and capers and a duck-egg yolk on top. Poussin Roasted Under a Brick comes with potato latkes and winter citrus salad. Chef Paley's house-made terrines, pates, and rillettes display masterful seasonings and textures. After 20 years in Portland, he not only shows no signs of slowing down, he actually seems to be rapidly gaining speed.

1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?

It is very much ingredient and season driven. There are no rules or staunch traditions to follow. I only use the experience that I have accumulated over the years to continue to create, discover and try to define what it means to cook in the Pacific Northwest.

2. Who are six of your favorite purveyors that you regularly work with?

Ben Jacobsen of Jacobsen Salt Co. is a true pioneer, making world class salt and revitalizing a century-old tradition. Paul Durant of Red Ridge Farm makes fantastic olive oil in our very own backyard; Ken Forkish of Ken's Artisan Bakery makes a superb loaf of bread; and Damian Magista of Bee Local collects extraordinary honey from all around the Portland area.

Every now and then, I'll eat these four simple ingredients together, and I'll have to stop for a moment and marvel at how far we have come in Oregon. The pioneering spirit is still alive and well here. 

3. When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?

Ataula
Autentica
Yama Sushi

4. Who are some other Northwest chefs that you admire?

I have always and always will admire Cory Schreiber, formerly of Wildwood restaurant. He helped usher the modern dining era into Portland. The rest of us just follow.

5.  In your opinion, is there an area of Northwest cooking that doesn't receive enough attention?

The Pacific Northwest is big, very big. I am certain there are other places outside of major metropolitan centers like, for example, our coastal communities, that could use much deserved attention.

6. Looking toward the future, what are you most excited to do in the kitchen?

I am on a more of a personal quest these days, going back in time to my Russian roots and rediscovering them through food. Cooking food that has a deep history, centuries of tradition and many rituals associated with cooking and eating really excite me. Lucky for me, the set of ingredients in the Pacific Northwest is just like what I remember growing up with. Lots of game meats, berries, cold-water fish, wild mushrooms, root veggies and fields of buckwheat, just to name a few.

Paley’s Place Bistro and Bar
1204 Northwest 21st Avenue
Portland, OR 97209
www.paleysplace.net

Imperial Restaurant
410 SW Broadway
Portland OR 97205
www.imperialpdx.com

Portland Penny Diner
410 SW Broadway
Portland OR 97205
www.imperialpdx.com/portland-penny-diner