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.
Allen Routt, Owner and Executive Chef of The Painted Lady and Owner of Storss Barbecue
Chef Allen Routt and his wife Jessica Bagley opened The Painted Lady restaurant in Newberg in the Willamette Valley in 2005, and with it, they brought haute cuisine to Oregon. Chef Routt worked beneath Chef Patrick O'Connell, who is famous for serving incredibly complex, refined dishes in the intimate and colonial setting of Inn at Little Washington, and the experience fomented Routt's culinary goals.
The Painted Lady combines a historical setting and level of service difficult to find anywhere in the Northwest with astonishingly delectable, worldly dishes. The restaurant is located inside of an early 1900s Victorian home on a sleepy, wine-country-town street, and Routt's dishes feature wildly meticulous preparations that attest to his hard-won inspiration from global cuisine. To balance his love of refined dining and country living, Chef Routt opened a casual barbecue joint, Storss Barbacue (also in Newberg), in 2014. The pinot-noir barbecue sauce is not to be missed.
1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?
Having lived and worked throughout most of our country, Northwest cuisine, to me, is signified more than anywhere else by terrior. Nowhere else has such a long-standing tradition of farmers markets and vegetables and fruit stands. In addition, a lesser-known attribute about Oregon is the broad diversity of the growing region—the wide variety of products that are specific to Oregon. Additionally, Oregon farmers grow fruits and vegetables, such as wasabi, that are commonly only grown in select areas of the world.
2. Who are six of your favorite purveyors that you regularly work with?
Nevor Shellfish, for oysters and clams.
Frog Eyes, for their wasabi.
Sudan, for lamb.
Cow Bell Cheese Co
3. When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?
I have always loved the theater of a well-orchestrated dining experience. It’s difficult to find restaurants in the Northwest that will serve a multi-course, extended dining experience, without decisions, accompanied by appropriate wine and beverages.
4. Who are two other Northwest chefs that you admire?
Chef Tony Demes, formally of Noisette, and Chef Murata of Murata Restaurant— Both for their skill level and dedication to the craft of cooking.
5. Looking toward the future, what are you most excited to do in the kitchen?
I get really excited about the opportunities to work with a whole new generation of small farmers and producers. It’s exciting and fun to be in an agriculture area that produces world-class wines and world-class produce in our backyard. Also, having gone through really big growths and changes in the last year, it’s exciting to work with young energetic growers who are excited about their products.
The Painted Lady Restaurant
201 S. College Street
Newberg, OR 97132