Portland Chefs: They're Big in Japan!

This winter, several PDX chefs will jet out across the Pacific to carry the banner for Portland's culinary scene—and we've got the details.

By Allison Jones, Caitlin Feldman, and Ally Bordas January 27, 2014

Departure from Departure: Chef Gregory Gourdet and sous chef Nick Schultz of downtown's popular Departure Restaurant are traveling to Japan to experience its Zen culture, wildly exotic flavors, bamboo forests, and, most importantly, to spread the gospel of PDX nosh. The adventurous duo is meeting with Teruo Kurosaki—lauded design shop owner and founder of the Tokyo Farmers Market, Tokyo Food Cart Pod, and Tokyo Designers Block—who was recently commissioned by Travel Portland to publish a Japanese guidebook to Portland.

The book, dubbed True Portland: The Unofficial Guide for Creative People, will focus on hideaway hot-spot restaurants, barbershops, and other vibrant cultural Portlandia-ish spots that traveling tourists must see. Chefs Gourdet and Schultz will shed some light on the quirks of Portland during the book's launch, and will also get the opportunity to cook at multiple events, including dinners in the hip entertainment district of Harajuku. After the trip's official business is wrapped up, the two plan to spend a few days traveling around Kyoto. They depart for Japan on February 11—stay tuned for photos of their adventures on Eat Beat.

The very Nomadic Chef: Stacey Givens, the food-fueled mind behind The Side Yard urban farm and The Nomadic Chef, is self-described “a little crazy”—in an 80-hour-workweek, super-passionate, semi-famous-in-Japan kind of way. 

After appearing in the Japanese magazine, HUGE, Givens has been invited to bring farm-to-table cooking to both Kyoto and Kamakura from February 18 to March 1. "I was told to make 100% Side Yard style meals—no Japanese fusion," says Givens. She'll be connecting with local farmers, bakers, and butchers for fresh fodder, and to make sure she has all of the Portland-made ingredients necessary, Givens is packing a suitcase full of the essentials. assuming, of course, that everything makes it through customs.

What's making the trip, you ask? "I am taking Dogwood Distilling booze for the Portland-style brunch I am preparing in Kamakura," says Givens. "And The Common's Brewery is shipping over some of their finest brews to be paired with the supper in Kyoto. Old Salt Market Place will be hooking me up with some of their housemade slim jims. I will even be preparing chevre using my neighbors' goat milk and sneaking that into my suitcase—apparently, Japanese love goat cheese, but its really hard to find out there."

Who will be the next chef to travel far and wide thanks to Portland's international reputation? And will they bring us back souveneirs? 

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