Changes afoot at Park Kitchen. After longtime PK chef David Padberg announced his departure in early August (he's heading to the downtown's new gastropub Raven & Rose) chef/owner Scott Dolich has announced his replacement in Ethan Snyder, a returning Portland native who's an alum of PK's early days — as well as several Andrew Carmellini restaurants in New York City. Padberg will remain at PK through October 1 in a "chef emeritus" status as the kitchen makes the complete transition.
According to Dolich, Snyder, who got his start at Park Kitchen for one-and-a-half years in the mid-'00s, moved to New York and spent time in kitchens like Craft and Cafe Boulud before joining the Carmellini empire, opening A Voce, Locanda Verde, and most recently, the Dutch, where he served as sous chef. "David gave his notice in August, and Ethan was here... when I started talking to him about it, he was totally stoked," Dolich says. "It's just a cool story — I kind of trained [Snyder], it's a smooth transition, it happened at the right time, and now he's super-jazzed. He's coming to me twice a day with all these crazy-ass ideas — some of them are going to be really cool, and some of them may or may not show up on the menu."
With the chef shuffle, unsurprisingly, comes a new aesthetic — shifting from Padberg's subtle Japanese influences to more Italian and French techniques. "David and I worked a lot on how to bring those elements to Park Kitchen without seeming too fusiony or too Japanese," Dolich says. "And a lot of things we do now that I hope to always have at Park Kitchen: the use of seaweed; the use of dashi stock as opposed to fish stock; the use of miso hidden in vinaigrettes. But Ethan is much more focused on Italian and French. So, it's kind of cool — a lot of the dishes we've been talking about are things that we first opened with at Park Kitchen. So, he's going to be going a lot of reimagining the original dishes, which is a ton of fun for me."
Per Dolich, expect to see Snyder's influence on the menu around the end of the year, after a 60-day period to make sure the kitchen is running smoothly. "And then we'll start working in the new menu items," he says. "Ethan is kind of focused on returning, and using some of those original dishes as his starting point. It's going to be really interesting. Some of the initial conversations — I would say arguments — have been really fun. His interpretations and his memory of what those dishes are, it's pretty cool."
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