Last year, Chefs' Week was seemingly cobbled together on the fly by Departure chef Gregory Gourdet, and was held during a week in which much of Portland was fully snowed in.
It didn't matter. The dinners still sold out completely each night, and with good reason: The event brings together top chefs from all corners of the city, as well as from up and down the West Coast.
This year, it's back and better than ever. Over just four short days (well, for the chefs it'll probably be four long days), five dinners will be served and four after parties will be marinated in alcohol. And the event will have something that last year's didn't: Local artisans will create specialty eats for each dinner.
As Gourdet says, "Not only chefs make delicious things."
Keep your eyes peeled for Chefs' Week candies (Quin), ice cream (Salt & Straw), punch (Union Wine) and chocolates (Woodblock).
But there will indeed be chefs, about 30 in all. Joining Gourdet are Portlanders Jose Chesa (Ataula), Aaron Barnett (St. Jack), Patrick McKee (Paley's Place for now), Ryan Roadhouse (Nodoguro), Earl Ninsom (PaaDee, Langbaan), Doug Adams (Imperial), Gabi and Greg Denton (Ox), Jason French (Ned Ludd), and Joshua McFadden (Ava Gene's, Roman Candle).
Making the trip either north or south are Brian McCracken and Dana Tough (Seattle's Spur), Matthew Dillon (too many successful Seattle joints to even name) and Mei Lin (formerly of LA's Ink and Gourdet and Adams' co-contestant on Top Chef).
Gourdet says he loves to have the opportunity to put this event on, not only because he likes meeting new people and getting to know what makes his fellow chefs tick, but mainly because "It's very cool to see what happens when chefs from all across the West Coast get together in a few kitchens and cook their hearts out."
And while it's fun for him, it's also a lot of work. Gourdet's organizing team is small. Plus, he's cooking at two of the five dinners. And he has a full-time job. Even so, he's planning to sit down and attend two of the three remaining dinners. As to where he'll end up, he's not saying.
As for you, "If there's a chef whose food you have always wanted to try, just go wherever they are cooking!" he suggests.
Of course, the main event is the final dinner, which Gourdet hosts in his Departure digs. For that epic feast, all 27 chefs will be on hand cooking for what Gourdet describes as a "four-hour tasting menu like no other ever experienced in Portland, from some of the best chefs of the entire West Coast, all in one kitchen at the same time."
If you're a foodie, it's a must.
Don't know what to get your foodie friend for the holidays? Gourdet says he'd like to add that "Chefs' Week PDX tickets make great Christmas gifts."
We think he's right.
Chefs' Week starts on Thursday, February 5 and ends on Sunday, February 8. The after parties are free and open to the public. Click this link for details and ticket information.
This year's dinners include:
- West Coast Modern: February 5, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Chesa's Ataula. Seven courses made with modern, forward-thinking techniques. $150.
- Present Culture: February 6, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Barnett's St. Jack. Seven courses prepared by chefs whose menus emphasize a regional approach. $125.
- Cascadia by Fire: February 7, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at French's Ned Ludd. Five courses that take advantage of Ned Ludd's wood-fired oven. $125.
- Bound by Tradition: February 7, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at French's Elder Hall. Six courses that combine the talents of chefs and local artisans. $125.
- West Coast 2015: February 8, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Gourdet's Departure. All chefs on hand. Too many plates to mention. $250.