Q&A: Rolf & Daughters' Philip Krajeck

On the eve of Feast, the Nashville chef talks farro, fat, and why he's not America's Pasta Lord.

By Kelly Clarke September 17, 2014

Rolf and Daughter's Philip Krajeck.

This week, for the third year running, Portland becomes an international capital of culinary wonderment as eaters and cooks alike flock from coast-to-coast for the non-stop food party smorgasbord that is Feast Portland.

You know the drill: Over the course of four days, Bon Appétit Presents Feast Portland takes over the city’s public parks and private dining rooms for a gluttonous celebration of all things edible, unleashing everything from a swaggering sandwich smackdown and wild night market to sour beer tasting panels, classes on butchery to candy making, and special dinners cooked by locals paired with celeb chefs. As PoMo’s own Karen Brooks put it last year: “It’s an opportunity to celebrate the food town that defied the gods of gastronomy, sit in on conversations with leading food thinkers, and inhale everything that makes Portland's food scene awesome.” Many of the fest’s 30 events are sold out, but there are still tickets available for Thursday’s kickoff Sandwich Invitational, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting, gala High Comfort at the Nines and a flurry of classes and tastings. (Check out tickets here.) Psst: It’s not all about gorging, either. As in years past, net proceeds benefit Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Share Our Strength. In its first two years, Feast has raised more than $99,000.

To prep for the event, we've interviewed some of the visiting cooks poised help make Feast 2014 a gastronomical wonderland. Check back for more Q&As, slideshows, and foodie fest tastiness as the week progresses. Next up: Rolf and Daughters' Philip Krajeck. —Kelly Clarke


Fun and rowdy enough for the Nashville neighbors but with dishes thoughtful enough to merit Best New Restaurant nods from Esquire and Bon Appétit, Philip Krajeck's Rolf and Daughters (aka R.A.D.) is a bit of a mash up—centered on regional ingredients with an Italian slant. But what else would you expect from a Southern gent raised in Europe? In our conversation, the talented cook extolled the virtues of farro and had some strong words for fat. 

PoMo: Nashville is the next great food city. What did it look like 5 years ago and what sets it apart from other destination food cities? Should we be booking our flights now?
Philip Krajeck: Nashville five years ago had a dining scene that was rooted in "meat & three's" and BBQ restaurants. The scene now has really diversified from tasting menu only restaurants to new interpretations of Southern food to rustic Italian and Mediterranean food. Along with the dining scene you now see bar culture growing from cocktails bars like Bar.308 and Patterson House to local distilleries like Nelson Green Brier Distillery (who just started distilling their whiskey in Nashville) and a host of local breweries. It is a very exciting time here but just the beginning, Nashville is figuring itself out and that takes time.

You are America’s new pasta lord. What’s the secret to a great pasta dish—and where do so many restaurants go wrong? 
I am not a “pasta lord.” Many people have been doing this for much longer than I, in fact that is where I gained the inspiration and knowledge that has been the foundation of what we do now. The secret to great pasta is to keep the condiment simple, use the pasta water to finish, and do not overcook the noodles!

What food trend would you like to see die a quick and painful death?
Too much fat!! So many dishes these days have way too much fat. I want clean food with balanced acidity.

What ingredient are you obsessing over theses day. Why?
Anson Mills Farro Verde. An organically grown grain with a smoky flavor from the cooking process. It's great in warm or cold dishes. We have it on the menu now and its one of my favorites.

What’s the secret to a great menu? Small. Focused. Seasonal.

What’s the one cookbook you can’t live without? Paul Bertolli, Cooking by Hand.

What’s on your must-eat Portland food list? 
Ava Gene's is always at the top followed by Pok Pok (any of Andy's places really), HA&VL, Bollywood Theater, and our buddy Sean Coyne's pizza place Pizza Maria.

Philip Krajeck's work station at Rolf and Daughters.

Would you please snap a photo of your workspace or favorite kitchen gadget? Why does it make your life complete? 
This is my workstation….aka the pass. I spend 5-6 nights a week here and I would say my spoons are my most needed item on my station. I taste everything so they become a very necessary tool throughout the night.

Philip Krajeck will cook at two Feast Portland dinner series events: The Hot 10 Dinner: Celebrating Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants in America on Sept 18 (sold out) and the Oregonian Media Group High Comfort at The Nines on Sept 20 (tickets still available). Portland Monthly is one of the sponsors of Feast Portland.



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