The Oregonian is the first to report that Beaker & Flask chef Ben Bettinger — who opened the NE Sandy restaurant in 2009 with owner Kevin Ludwig — is leaving the B&F kitchen for a position at Vitaly Paley's long-stewing new downtown restaurant. Bettinger, famously a Paley protege, worked in the Paley's Place kitchen from 2002 to 2007, and backed his former boss during a visit to Iron Chef America's Kitchen Stadium last year.
"I couldn't be happier for him," Ludwig tells Eater. "It's an amazing opportunity to advance his career." According to Ludwig, Anthony Walton, Bettinger's longtime sous chef, will be taking over the kitchen at Beaker: "He's learned a lot from working with Ben over the years and he's been running the line in Ben's absence, so I expect the change over to be somewhat seamless."
"His style is different, incorporating a little more Americana in to his dishes, and I expect to see a little more 'drinking food' find its way on to the menu. In addition, we'll be doing more with bringing the bar in to the kitchen and trying to create a greater harmony between cocktails and food. There is talk of bring back the late-night menu and expanding our dessert options — Anthony has a background as a pastry chef. I'm excited about the change and we'll see how it goes."
Bettinger will remain in the Beaker & Flask kitchen for the next four weeks. More information about the downtown Paley project — aka the worst-kept secret in town — as it's confirmed.
· All Previous Beaker & Flask Coverage [Eater PDX]
· All Previous Ben Bettinger Coverage [Eater PDX]
· All Previous Vitaly Paley Coverage [Eater PDX]