When Tom Hurley closed his fine dining establishment, Hurley's, in Northwest Portland on New Year's Eve, 2008, many thought that would be the last we'd hear from this outspoken chef/owner. So it was a bit of a surprise to hear his name come up in the story that kicked off one of KATU's Wednesday night newscasts. There was an discussion... er... it was actually more like a near knock-down drag-out, bitch slap of a fight between City Commish Nick Fish and fellow Commish Randy Leonard after the council decided the city will not pay a former firefighter $100,000 in disability, the money he was awarded by an arbitrator. The firefighter in question? None other than Tom Hurley, one of the most colorful characters to ever hit the foodie scene, here or anywhere else for that matter.
After he qualified for disability for a bad back and hung up his fire hose in 1994 Tommy Boy (who, in fact, resembles Chris Farley) received training from the famed French Culinary Institute in New York (paid for by the city's Fire and Police Disability and Retirement Fund) and made quite a name for himself as the "fire fighter chef" at several local dining halls, including Jake's Grill, a Pearl District (now-closed) eatery called Vivid, and, eventually, with his own eponymously-named restaurant in Northwest Portland where Cafe Nell now sits. And it was not always good. Hurley had a rep, deservedly so, for being loud, proud and, too obnoxious for most local tastes. He was known for his pre-Lucier foie gras-flaunting indulgences and does anyone recall his infamous $28 dollar burger? Following the demise of his Portland restaurant, he relocated to Seattle and the other upscale eatery he owned, the now closed Coupage (where the big hit was his foie gras burger). Hurley eventually landed a gig at another Seattle space, Triangle, before his trail gets cold. Last word was he was currently living in the Bay area and according to Food Dude's comment section is working at Left Bank's new Bar Americain. Now it looks like Hurley is back in the news, if not in the kitchen, as his case is likely to show up in court. Will this story ever end?
Image of Tom Hurley courtesy Katu.com