In case you didn’t know, Portland is more famous for its small restaurants and eateries than its art galleries and museums. The largest city in Oregon harbors many culinary talents in its different corners. And the level of its food community is increasing every year as new chefs move here or the older ones improve their skills.
If you are unsure who to visit in the land of beer and coffee, I am here to help. After personally visiting the city, I managed to create a list of some of the top chefs in Portland. Some of them lack accolades yet since they didn’t have the chance or time to prove themselves. Let’s check them out.
Naomi Pomeroy- Local Cuisine with Foreign Mixes
If Naomi Pomeroy isn’t the true example of someone loved by all their audiences, then I don’t know who is. As a native, she can bring out the local flavors in her cuisine. But her specialty doesn’t end there. Thanks to her mom and grandma, who came from France and New Orleans, she adapted to their culinary style as well.
Naomi’s first time cooking something was literally at the age of three at her home. She finished graduation in history from Lewis & Clark College.
Restaurants by Pomeroy-
Pomeroy currently has one restaurant in Portland- Beast. She previously had other taverns and eateries but decided to close their doors. Unfortunately, even Beast is closed as of writing because of the Covid pandemic. However, to taste her cooking, Ripe Cooperative is the place now which works like a delivery service.
Awards and Accolades-
Pomeroy got so many accolades on her hands. Some of them are-
- James Beard Award for the ‘Best Chef: Pacific Northwest’ in 2014. She also reached the final by the same foundation in 2010, 2012, and 2013 for the same award.
- She was included in one of America’s Top 10 Best New Chefs by the Food & Wine magazine in 2009.
Joshua McFadden- Chef, Restaurateur, Farmer, and Artisan
Some chefs are behind the kitchen every day to please hungry people. Meanwhile, others are aspired to share their skills with others. Joshua McFadden falls into both categories with his legendary cookbook. He is a chef and a restaurateur with four restaurants in Portland.
His other big identity is that he is a farmer. He wants to contribute to food culture from both sides by working at Berny Farm. McFadden is apparently an artisan too.
McFadden worked at popular restaurants like Lupa, Blue Hill, Momofuku, and Roxanne’s in his career. He is adapted to the Pacific Northwest, Mexican, American, and Italian cuisine.
Joshua McFadden mainly owns five restaurants in Portland. He works directly as the head chef at Tusk and Ava Gene’s. There are also Tope, Cicoria, and La Neta.
- New York Times gave him two stars when he worked at Franny’s.
- His cookbook won the James Beard Award for Best Cookbook in 2018.
McFadden’s Award-Winning Cookbook-
Gabriel Rucker- Famous Restaurateur
For any French dining lover out there, I recommend the French Bar Food, owned by Gabriel Rucker. As both a chef and a restaurateur, Rucker had enough skills to write one of the best cookbooks in the city. While very little about him is known to the public, it is said that he had a terrible diet in the past. But he changed it, and now he is healthier than ever.
Currently, it seems like Rucker is teaching culinary to his daughter, Barbette, who is eight years old as of writing. He has two other children. Rucker is pretty well-known in the city and won many awards.
Gabriel Rucker has three eateries in Portland. His Little Bird Bistro and Le Pigeon were pretty famous already. He opened French Bar Food in 2018, boosting French cuisine.
Awards and Achievements-
- Rucker won the Best New Chef in 2017 by Food & Wine.
- He was also awarded Rising Star by the James Beard Foundation in 2011. They also gave him the Best Chef: Northwest in the following year.
Andy Ricker- Michelin-Starred Chef
Andy Ricker fulfils the Thai part of the culinary community of Portland. Since he is so adapted to it, you needn’t worry next time you are craving some Thai delicacies. Ricker was born in North Carolina, and his first work at a restaurant was as a dishwasher. His culinary experience rose, not by actually cooking but by backpacking and handling work at different eateries. He has worked in restaurants in Thailand, New Zealand, and Australia. He also had the luck of working at Le Manoir aux Quat’, the famous Michelin-starred eatery.
He specially trained for many months in Thailand to step up his cooking game, putting him in the place he has today.
Restaurants by Ricker-
Ricker’s signature restaurant is Pok Pok, which he opened in seven different cities, including one in Portland. In addition, he also has Sen Yai and Whiskey Soda Lounge in this city.
Let’s look at some of the most prestigious awards that Ricker won.
- He got the Best Chef: Northwest by James Beard Foundation in 2011. He also won another award from them in 2014.
- His restaurant Pok Pok Ny got one Michelin Star in 2014.
Bonnie Frumkin Morales- Cuisine from the Land of Potatoes and Agriculture
Not every day, you get to eat some lavish Russian cuisine in Portland. But thanks to Bonnie Morales, it is now possible. Her family is from Belarus, and because of that, she inherited the local culinary custom of the place. But her official graduation was from the Culinary Institute of America.
Morales had the chance to work at some top-tier Michelin-starred restaurants in Chicago and NY. When she opened her first restaurant, Kachka, she received much praise. Later, the chain of eateries continued, and she now owns three of them in total.
Morale’s first restaurant was Kachka, which she opened with her husband, Israel Morales. In addition, she also has Kachka Horseradish Vodka and Kachka Lavka, where the former is like a bar, and the latter is a café (both Russian-styled).
- Morale was a finalist for the Best Chef: Northwest by James Beard Foundation.
- She got the Rising Star title from StarChefs.
- Food & Wine dubbed her The People’s Best New Chef.
If you are in Portland and visit one of the restaurants owned and managed by the chefs I mentioned, know that you are in for a satisfying meal. Their cuisine will give you the feeling of fullness, and your journey will be worth the time. I personally aim to reach their level as a chef.