Chef collaborations are a major Portland thing: local cooks and food makers seem happiest in jam band mode, coming together for wild, one-off food “albums.” Over the years, the model has produced fun and far-out beers, chocolate bars, ice creams, and sandwiches that pop up, for a limited time, all around the city.
Next up: the Ataula Brava Sauce, a collaboration between acclaimed Catalan chef José Chesa (Ataula) and Marshall’s Haute Sauce, whose inventive hot sauces are a fixture at Portland’s best markets.
The new sauce (available tomorrow, April 17) aims to capture the magic of Ataula’s famed patatas bravas, a spin on the iconic dish of fried potatoes and spicy tomato sauce commonly found in Spain’s tapas bars. The idea was born last December, when Ataula cooked a dinner in honor of El Bulli’s godfather of modern desserts, Albert Adrià, while he was in town for a culinary lecture. After tasting Chesa’s bravas sauce, Adria remarked with a laugh, “This is way better than mine … I’m going to steal it.”
Chesa says the compliment got him thinking: “Maybe I should sell it. Who knows?” He called Sarah and Dirk Marshall, and the couple quickly signed on to produce the sauce as part of their Marshall’s Haute Sauce line. As with all of their chef collaborations, the Marshalls added their own spin.
The result is surprising: a hot sauce with a Spanish-Indian vibe. Ataula’s signature flavors ring forth, with rustic notes of smoky paprika and sherry vinegar. The Marshalls add some left-field inspirations, including tamarind for color depth, smoked Ghost chiles and heirloom Honeycrisp apples for sweetness. It’s bright, prickly, fruity, and smoky, with great texture and layers of nuanced heat—just what you’d hope for in a fine hot sauce.
“Our goal with chef collaborations is to listen to their stories,” says Dirk. “We sit down and talk about who they are, what they want in a bottle.” What did they learn about Jose Chesa during the months-long process? “Jose is a true romantic,” says Dirk. “If you play Celine Dion around him, he will passionately sing along.”
Beginning Wednesday, April 17, bottles of Ataula Brava Sauce will be sold at the restaurant, as long as there’s a demand. Chesa is also busting out some nightly specials showcasing the sauce. Up first: crispy potato and chorizo canelón (Catalonia’s analog to Italy’s cannelloni), served with Brava Sauce.
Bottles will also be available at the Marshall’s Haute Sauce booth every Saturday at the PSU Farmers Market.