Turns out I’m kind of spoiled when it comes to eating delicious food…
About a week ago, I was filling out this nutrition form for one of my Crossfit trainers, detailing what I ate, how often, etc. I decided to not begin tracking my food intake until Monday morning because that Sunday I was going to a 4-course dinner at the Chef Studio in Portland. That of course is not a typical meal. So I felt I should most definitely exclude it from that week’s food log, to better reflect what I normally eat.
Well, fast forward six days and we are back to Sunday. That night, what was I doing? Attending an amazing Plate & Pitchfork dinner. Another five courses of incredible food served with wine and beer pairings meal!
Turns out, perhaps five-course dinners were not so unusual in my repertoire of eating. Do I feel guilty? Not in the slightest. Instead I feel lucky that I am able to attend such great events so frequently, being able to meet inspiring members of the culinary scene including award-winning chefs and hard-working farmers, plus of course, eat amazingly well prepared food.
The earlier event I attended was part of the Chef Studio Mentor Dinner Series. Chef Studio, started by the talented and well-connected Robert Reynolds, is a wonderful, small culinary school for both professionals and home cooks. To encourage learning and community, and to indulge in good eating, Chef Studio regularly puts on “mentor” dinners with guest chefs.
The dinner I was lucky enough to attend featured local chefs, Tommy Habetz of Bunk Sandwiches and Cathy Whims of Nostrana and Oven and Shaker (one of my favorite restaurants in Portland). Both Tommy and Cathy cooked together at the legendary Genoa restaurant (one of my other favorite places).
Inspired by Roman cuisine, we had an incredible four courses prepared in person by Tommy and Cathy.
The space at Chef Studio is small and intimate, with enough room for two 8-person tables and the chef station. Similar to open kitchens which I absolutely love, this was such a great experience, watching the top chefs seamlessly make fresh pasta and artfully plate each dish.
To start, we were served Artichoke & Mosciame Carpaccio, an extremely thinly sliced piece of cured tuna.
As we watched Cathy and Tommy continue to cook, my friend Maria and I introduced ourselves to the other guests, our new foodie friends. The guest sitting to my left introduced himself as Ken then casually mentioned to the hostess that he brought in extra bread for dinner. At first I thought that seemed strange that a guest would bring his own loaf of bread. Then I something clicked.
“Are you Ken of Ken’s Artisan Bakery?” I inquired, asking before I even contemplated if that question might be rude or totally off-base.
“Yes, in fact, I am!”
I gave myself an imaginary pat on the back for picking the perfect table! 🙂
Ken was incredibly friendly and had wonderful stories about his bakery, pizzeria and upcoming book. I was pretty much in heaven – watching chefs cook, eating delicious food and talking to a fabulous bakery owner. The night couldn’t get much better.
But then the second course arrived, which was probably my favorite, Bavette Cacio e Pepe. It is an exceedingly simple dish of fresh spaghetti-like pasta with high-quality olive oil, cracked pepper and pecorino cheese. When you hear about chefs creating something with a limited number of dishes to really show off the ingredients, this is what they are talking about. Buttery, creamy and just a tad spicy from the black pepper.
“To Continue” as the menu read, we went with another pasta dish (which I will forever love the Italians for). Cathy made a superb Shrimp Ravioli with a light tomato cream sauce.
The main course up next was an Oxtail Braciole with Celery, Parsley and Raisins. Similar to a ragu, the oxtail was slowly cooked so it melted in your mouth. Rich, salty and flavorful. It was even served atop a thick slice of Ken’s bread to soak up all the delicious juices.
You can never finish a meal without a killer dessert and they did it just right with their Ricotta Cheesecake. Light, fluffy, not overly sweet and topped with fresh Oregon raspberries. It was a wonderful ending to a fantastic meal.
Sound like your kind of fun? Check back at the Chef Studio website for upcoming dinners!
2818 SE Pine St.
Portland, OR 97214
To not bore you all too much with my food ramblings, pictures and details from the Plate & Pitchfork dinner to come later!