After eight weeks of soul searching and short stints in the top kitchens of Denmark, France, and Iceland, chef Will Preisch is back in Portland—with a plan.
Preisch opened the Bent Brick in Northwest Portland with Scott Dolich in June 2011, offering inventive plates that garnered critical acclaim but ultimately felt out of place in the neighborhood tavern. While Dolich regrouped and returned to the basics, Preisch set out to find his own new direction.
After putting in several years as a chef, Preisch found new perspective from the eyes of a cook ("Hell, not even a cook—a stagiaire, an intern," he laughs). Spending hours scrubbing vegetables and picking herbs in Europe, he had lot of time to observe the inner workings of the kitchens abroad—and hone in on what he wanted to create when he returned to the states.
Inspired by time on the line at Copenhagen's Relae, Paris's Septime, and Reykjavik's Dill Restaurant, Preisch will soon debut Holdfast, a pop-up supperclub series offering paired-down dining adventures at local restaurants and commissary kitchens.
The $75 pop-up dinners (which are set to kick-off with a series at KitchenCru on June 28) will showcase between nine and eleven creative courses, varying in size from small bites to more substantial plates. Forget the standard progression of amuse-boucheto app to entree to dessert—at Holdfast, portion sizes, flavors, and techniques both ancient and modern will be mixed throughout the meal, along with wine pairings and plenty of surprises.
The plates won't be the only sign of Preisch's point of view, as diners can expect a new level of interaction with the chef and culinary crew: "Holdfast will be my take on 'fine dining'," Preisch explains. "A stripped-down version of a restaurant with carefully-sourced products served by the same people who prepared it. At all of the restaurants I spent time in, the cooks delivered food to the guests; and while I have worked at restaurants in the states that do this to some degree, none blurred the lines between the back and front of house as well as Relae in Copenhagen. The cooks really had a big role during service: running and clearing food, selling wine, serving coffee, etc. I really enjoyed the personal interaction that this afforded the kitchen and the guests—and plan on bringing that to the table."