The National Pork Board hosted The 2011 Pork Crawl in Portland, OR, October 18 and 19. Foodservice magazine editors and Pork Celebrated Chefs Jose Garces, Paul Kahan and John Sundstrom came to Portland for the two-day pork extravaganza. On the 18th, attendees took a six-stop tour and tried some of the city’s best pork dishes. Stops included the Country Cat Dinner House & Bar, Lardo Food Truck, Laurelhurst Market Restaurant & Butcher Shop, The Bent Brick, Higgins and The Original. And tastings ranged from homemade pork pastrami sandwiches and a grilled pork chop with chow chow to homemade charcuterie, root beer glazed pork shoulder and a bacon caramel milkshake.
On the 19th, it was Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Voodoo Doughnuts, Pie Spot pie holes, Olympic Provisions chacuterie and Clyde Common bacon and cedar scones for breakfast. After some free time in the city the group headed out to Ayers Creek Farm, an Oregon Tilth Certified Organic Farm in Gaston, OR, for a tour and farm dinner with owners Anthony and Carol Boutard. The evening was highlighted by the cooking of Pork Celebrated Chefs Jose Garces, Paul Kahan and John Sundstrom as well Portland chefs Greg Higgins and Adam Sappington. Each chef did a pork dish using produce from the farm. A team from Sokol Blosser winery was also on hand to educate attendees on Willamette Valley wines and serve up some of their world famous wines.
Chef Jose Garces opened his first restaurant in 2005 and has since opened another seven restaurants in both Philadelphia and Chicago, securing a reputation as one of the country’s most gifted and captivating chefs. He’s also authored a cookbook, Latin Evolution, won the James Beard award for “Best Chef Mid-Atlantic” in 2009, and won Season 2 of The Next Iron Chef, making him one of just six chefs in the country to hold the title of Iron Chef America.
An American chef born to Ecuadorian parents and raised in Chicago, Garces spent years perfecting different cuisines in top-rated professional kitchens. After honing his skills in Spain and New York City, he trained under Douglas Rodriguez, the father of Nuevo Latino cuisine, and helmed the kitchens at both Alma de Cuba and El Vez, two wildly successful Latin-influenced Stephen Starr restaurants in Philadelphia.
Garces’ Philadelphia restaurants – Amada, Tinto, Distrito, Chifa, Village Whiskey, JG Domestic and Garces Trading Company – form the Garces Restaurant Group. He is the owner and executive chef of all seven, as well as at Chicago’s Mercat a la Planxa, where he collaborates with Sage Restaurant Group. He’s also behind the Philadelphia food truck Guapos Tacos, which serves up authentic Mexican street food to hungry lunch-goers. Both Distrito and Mercat were named to Esquire Magazine’s 20 Best New Restaurants 2008. In addition to his restaurant, print and television successes, he’s also been featured in The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and The Wall Street Journal.
Chef and restaurateur Paul Kahan has earned a reputation as one of the most exciting and influential working chefs in the country. Along with a growing list of international accolades for Blackbird, avec, The Publican and Big Star, Kahan is a three-time nominee for the James Beard award for “Outstanding Chef” and winner of James Beard “Best Chef Midwest” in 2004.
After a brief, post-college stint as a computer scientist, Kahan followed his passion to the kitchens of Erwin Drechsler’s Metropolis and Rick Bayless’ Topolobampo. Kahan developed relationships with Midwestern farmers and integrated their offerings into dishes he created for those restaurants, and later for his flagship restaurant, Blackbird. Shortly after Blackbird opened, Food & Wine placed Kahan on their Best New Chefs 1999 list, recognizing his highly individual approach to cooking and the talent that Chicago diners have celebrated for years.
Kahan is committed to environmental and sustainable practices across the board. He says, “we have approached our restaurants, from the very beginning, as sustainable in every way. We sustain great relationships with our purveyors and farmers and with cooks and former cooks, managers and former managers and most importantly with the way we impact the earth. It’s important to us to leave the world a better place than we found it.” Kahan commutes to work on his bicycle year-round, and is currently working to open a whole-hog butcher shop in late 2011.
John Sundstrom, the chef and restaurateur behind Seattle’s Lark and Licorous, is one of the most renowned chefs in the Pacific Northwest. With a reputation gained from years of working in some of the country’s top kitchens, Sundstrom was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs in 2001 and was honored with the “Best Chef Northwest” award from the James Beard Foundation in 2007.
After graduating from the New England Culinary Institute, Sundstrom worked in several exclusive resort hotels before moving to the Northwest. He brought his love for fresh, seasonal food to life in the kitchens of top Seattle restaurants like Campagne and Carmelita. He was Chef de Cuisine at Tom Douglas’ Dahlia Lounge and helmed Earth Ocean for three years before branching out on his own.
Sundstrom opened Lark in 2003, with a focus on crafting flavorful small plates from quality, artisanal ingredients. The restaurant’s communal dining encourages a familial atmosphere, and the seasonal menu changes frequently to accommodate the freshest ingredients of the Pacific Northwest. He went on to open Licorous in 2006, a sophisticated cocktail lounge next door to Lark.
Owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Adam and Jackie Sappington, The Country Cat Dinner House & Bar offers a soulful take on Southern classics. After graduating from the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Adam began as a line cook at Wildwood restaurant where he worked up to Executive Chef over his eleven-year tenure. He met Jackie over the Wildwood stove in 1995. Prior to her time at Wildwood, Jackie was the pastry chef at Cafe’ Azul and Lauro Kitchen.
Opened in 2007 in Southeast Portland, The Country Cat aims to build a neighborhood community united by a love for food. Dedicated to using fresh, seasonal ingredients, the Sappingtons’ menu features classic country-style dishes with playful flavors. Brunch delivers everything from Eggs Benedict with house-cured ham to Jackie’s pecan spoonbread, while the dinner menu offers bacon braised collard greens and The Country Cat whole hog. The Country Cat Dinner House and Bar is an ode to the simple and rustic, focused on recreating the special time of family dinner.
Pork Face Pancetta with a Sunny Side Up Egg and Pork “Liquor”
Lardo, the brainchild of chef and owner Rick Gencarelli, is a food cart with a farm-to-fork mentality, that offers Italian flavors and fresh Northwest ingredients to hungry crowds. Over the past fifteen years, Chef Gencarelli has worked in top kitchens across the country, from Rubicon in San Francisco to Olives in Boston. Prior to Lardo, he headed up the kitchen at Vermont’s Shelburne Farms. During his tenure there, Shelburne Farms was named one of Gourmet magazine’s top 100 farm-to-fork restaurants. Gencarelli also co-authored a cookbook, Cooking with Shelburne Farms: Food and Stories from Vermont, which was named one of Food & Wine’s top 25 cookbooks of the year.
Lardo house-cures their namesake creamy pork fatback and serves up a slew of delicious sandwiches and famous Handcut Lardo Fries. Proud to serve “great, creative, satisfying everyday food,” their menu is constantly updated with fresh, seasonal Northwest products. Lardo has a self-confessed love for the pig, and features great pork items like porchetta, pork meatballs, prosciutto, and crispy pork belly. In business for a little over a year, the residents of Portland hope Lardo is here to stay.
Dave Kreifels is the chef and co-owner of Laurelhurst Market, Portland’s “butcher shop by day, steakhouse-inspired brasserie by night.” Kreifels, a native Portlander, grew up in the city’s vibrant food scene and has a deep love for fresh, seasonal Northwest ingredients. He was Chef de Cuisine at Tuscany Grill, where he developed his “Italian Trattoria” cooking style under John Gorham and Paul Dicarli. In 2005, Kreifels helped open Simpatica Dining Hall, of which he became part owner two years later. He moved to Laurelhurst Market in 2009 when the combination market/restaurant/butcher shop/neighborhood bar opened.
Laurelhurst Market is dedicated to quality ingredients and features only all-natural and hormone-free meats in the butcher cases and menu. From pates and pancetta to sausage and smoked ham hocks, everything is cured, smoked and stuffed in-house. As a nod to the restaurant’s appreciation for “all things meat,” Bon Appétit magazine named Laurelhurst Market one of the 10 Best New Restaurants of 2010. The steakhouse-style food and the neighborhood diner atmosphere combine to make Laurelhurst Market a Portland hotspot.
The Bent Brick calls itself a tavern, but its unique, inventive dishes and cheeky atmosphere make this Portland spot a foodie’s dream come true. Chef Will Preisch serves up whimsical interpretations of traditional bar food, with a strong focus on fresh, seasonal Northwest ingredients. Before opening The Bent Brick with owner Scott Dolich this past summer, Preisch was Chef de Cuisine at Dolich’s Park Kitchen. He moved to Portland in 2006 to take advantage of the growing culinary scene, and hasn’t looked back.
The Bent Brick pays homage to Northwest cuisine, from the seasonal ingredients on the menu to the local wines on tap. With a list of suppliers for everything from fruit to fish, The Bent Brick’s menu is as local as it gets. It features creative combinations like quinoa and kale fritters, and pork with a root beer glaze. And for the adventurous, The Bent Brick offers an “Eat the Whole Menu” option, a not-to-be-missed opportunity to take a bite of every item on the menu. The Bent Brick’s food isn’t typical bar fare, but The Bent Brick is not a typical neighborhood tavern. http://thebentbrick.com/
Pork, Carrots, Root Beer Glaze, Almond Yogurt and PK Hot Dogs with Hazelnut “Baked Beans”
Higgins Restaurant & Bar crafts classic country fare with a focus on Northwest cuisine. Chef and owner Greg Higgins firmly believes in the idea of food as community and works with a long list of farmers and ranchers to supply his kitchen with fresh, quality ingredients. A prominent voice in the movement for sustainable food, Chef Higgins has contributed to many cookbooks and appeared on television specials to share his passion. Of the goal of his restaurant, Chef Higgins remarks, “we’re interested in nourishing and sustaining not only our customers’ appetites but also the land and the quality of life we all enjoy.” Chef Higgins doesn’t just talk the talk – he tends his organic home garden year-round. He cultivates heirloom herbs, fruits and vegetables and shares the results of his labor with local growers to ensure a steady stream of quality produce in his kitchen.
The menu at Higgins reflects his commitment to the Pacific Northwest, changing often to highlight the freshest ingredients of the season. Featuring house-made charcuterie, forest mushrooms and world-class local wines, Higgins is helping to define sustainable cuisine, as well as sharing the bounty of the Willamette Valley with his customers. Higgins Restaurant & Bar is a testament to Chef Higgins’ philosophy and a celebration of Northwest cuisine and his efforts have not gone unnoticed. The James Beard Foundation honored Chef Higgins with the “Best Chef Northwest” award in 2002. http://higginsportland.com/
Croqueta of Pork Trotter with Seared Quallicum Scallop, Lardo and Aji Dulce Coulis
Chef Ryan Bleibtrey took over the kitchen at The Original in May of 2011, with a background that includes training at Johnson and Wales, the kitchens of Alex and Bouchon in Las Vegas, and the legendary James Beard House in New York City. Drawn to the Pacific Northwest, he moved to Portland in 2006 and worked at some of the city’s finest establishments, including Wildwood, Toro Bravo, and Urban Farmer. Now helming The Original, Chef Bleibtrey is focusing on local, seasonal ingredients and the restaurant’s playful spirit.
Paying homage to the diners and supper clubs of the ‘50s and ‘60s, The Original serves up classic American comfort food with a touch of the contemporary Northwest. The eclectic menu features dishes ranging from meatloaf to a house made chickpea and quinoa veggie burger. The Original also hosts community events like Man vs. Dog, a hot dog eating contest, and celebrates National Pi Day with free slices of pie. With a nod to the past and a constant dedication to reinventing it, The Original is Portland’s modern supper club. http://originaldinerant.com/
The Bourbon Maple Bacon Milkshake
Ayers Creek Farm Visit