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Behind the Scenes of a Chefs Week Collaboration

Gregory Gourdet heads to Woodblock Chocolate to play.

Chefs from around town and up and down the West Coast are coming together for Chefs Week's epic four-day dinner series, which kicks off tomorrow with the West Coast Modern dinner at Ataula, featuring eight chefs.

Chefs Week's raison d'etre is collaboration, and this year the collaborations went far beyond restaurant kitchens. The chefs have already been hard at work, teaming up with local food and beverage producers to come up with custom beer, tea, candy, and chocolate to be served at the dinners.

So we went behind the scenes to watch as Gregory Gourdet, the leader of the pack, stopped by Woodblock Chocolate to work with proprietor Charley Wheelock to create special mendiants for the mignardise plate at Sunday's final dinner.

He piped Wheeler's chocolate onto a sheet pan of crumbled tandoori-spiced hazelnut brittle, then sprinkled each with sea salt, chile powder, and puffed rice.

Also on hand was Trifecta pastry chef Eve Kuttemann, who was working with Wheelock to create chocolates with candied brioche bits to serve at the sold-out Present Culture dinner at St. Jack.

Even if you can't make it to a dinner, there are souvenirs, so to speak, that you can pick up around town. Doug Adams and Double Mountain Brewery teamed up to make "Yacht Rock" ale, which is on tap at a several of the chef's week locales, including Cooper's Hall and Jackknife bar. Jose Chesa and Jami Curl's chocolate, olive oil and sea salt lollipops, and pimenton-spiked yogurt caramels are available at the Quin Candy shop. Four chefs worked with teamaker Steven Smith to create custom blends, and you can taste a few of the results in the Smith Tea shop. And this is the last week for the fancy Moroccan buffet at the Whole Foods hot bar.

But if you're wishing you had bought tickets, it's not too late. Though most of the dinners are sold out, there are still a few seats left for the Bound by Tradition dinner at Elder Hall on Saturday Feb. 7, which will have a star-studded cast of Matthew Accarrino (SPQR in SF), Nora Antene (Le Pigeon), Camas Davis (Portland Meat Collective), Jason French (Ned Ludd), Joshua McFadden (Ava Gene's), and Rachel Saunders (Blue Chair Fruit in Oakland). There are also still a few seats for the blow-out, grand finale feast at Departure on Sunday Feb. 8, when all the chefs will take turns cooking up a course.

Woodblock Chocolate

1715 Northeast 17th Avenue, , OR 97212 (971) 754-4874 Visit Website