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Chef Sara Hauman Will Serve Falafel Waffles at This Forthcoming Interactive Art Gallery

The Top Chef contestant will develop the food program for Hopscotch Portland, which opens in early June

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A neon-lit exhibit at Hopscotch, an interactive art gallery.
The Quantum Trampoline exhibit at Hopscotch.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

When visiting Hopscotch, an interactive museum and art gallery in San Antonio, visitors start their experience by using their palate. Guests often start in the lounge on the first floor, where they sip tequila cocktails out of tamarind straws, munch through cotton candy perched atop sparkling wine, and lick edible glitter off the sides of glasses. Hopscotch visitors are encouraged to take their drinks with them through the gallery — a “pairing” of sorts for the exhibits.

When Hopscotch opens its Southeast Portland location on June 9, it will offer a number of fun installations like the San Antonio location — a colorful cave made from scrap plastic bags and fishing nets, a trippy neon trampoline, a pool filled with 40,000 light-emitting diodes — complemented by a similar culinary component. Sara Hauman, the Top Chef contestant and former Arden chef, is developing the food program for Hopscotch Portland, with things like falafel waffles and mushroom-chocolate ice cream.

For co-founders Nicole Jensen and Hunter Inman, food and beverage have always been an important part of Hopscotch. Jensen has an extensive background in hotels and events, and when they were working on opening her gallery, they felt taste had to be a part of the interactive experience. “Art is holistic,” Jensen says. “Food and beverage has to be a part of that.”

Hauman grew up in Southern California, before moving to Spain and falling in love with food. She went to culinary school and eventually returned to Europe, cooking in the Basque Country at the lauded Asador Etxebarri. Hauman went on to work for multiple Michelin-starred restaurants in the Bay Area, and was named an Eater Young Gun in 2015. She moved to Oregon and served as the opening chef at Arden in the Pearl District, as well as the chef at Soter Vineyards in Carlton. When she appeared on Top Chef: Portland, her warmth and humility made her a fan favorite; after appearing on the show, she decided to focus less on restaurant work and more on events and consulting, also launching a brand of tinned fish.

Jensen was drawn to Hauman’s “creative, innovative energy,” in her words, and thought she would be a smart choice to handle the concessions at Hopscotch Portland. Jensen reached out to Hauman about joining the team in the fall, and the two hit it off. “She seemed to be someone who would be interested in joining a weird project like this,” Jensen says. “The paths she’s taken where people throw weird challenges at you, the things she’s doing with Tiny Fish Co. — she’s just innovative but also collaborative in nature.”

At Hopscotch, the menu is still very much in development, but a few items are locked in. Hauman will serve a falafel waffle with pickled red onion, veggies, green herb yogurt, and feta, as well as whimsical dishes like jalapeño popper mac and cheese or popcorn with Red Boat salt and candied peanuts. The lounge’s chocolate ice cream dessert will bridge the gap between sweet and savory, with porcini fudge, chocolate-covered truffle potato chips, and porcini powder. For something more staunchly sweet, a banana waffle comes with Nutella and golden milk whipped cream. Jensen and Inman wanted the menu to match the space itself — “fun, a little unexpected, a bit nostalgic,” Jensen says. “We want adults to feel like kids again.”

Hopscotch will open within the Goat Blocks at 1020 SE 10th Avenue; tickets are now on sale for June 9 on.

Updated Monday, May 22, 2023 at 4:42 p.m.: This story has been updated to include new waffle options on the Hopscotch menu.

Correction: This story has been corrected to show Hauman will not be developing the beverage program.