Portland chefs are becoming culinary globetrotters, spreading the local food gospel while finding fresh ideas to bring back home. Some travel to study at the feet of masters. Others are simply on a mission to eat and drink their way through the latest, greatest food city. Whatever the reason: we want to hear their stories and, yes, we want their itineraries.
Welcome to Eat Beat’s “Postcards from the Food Edge,” a travel series from the perspective of local chefs, via their words and photographs. (Our series kicked off with Ataula’s Jose and Cristina Chesa in Mexico City, followed by Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene's in Copenhagen.)
Up next: Top Chef star and Departure honcho Gregory Gourdet, who's made a name for himself with modernist pan-Asian cuisine and vegan creativity. But increasingly, Haiti is on his mind. For the past year, he’s been digging deep into the spicy, soulful, sour orange-marinated foods of his youth. The cuisine has taken a front-row seat at several Departure dinners, and in the summer of 2018, he was invited to lead a major Haitian dinner at the James Beard House with the cook he admires most: his mom.
Though he was born in Brooklyn, Gourdet kept an almost exclusively Haitian diet growing up. His parents moved to New York in the '60s to pursue education, and the family stayed close to Brooklyn’s Haitian community. “We always ate Haitian food,” he says. “My mother did not have a handle on American cuisine.”
In May 2018, Gourdet returned to Haiti for the first time in 21 years. Four months later, he returned again, this time to cook at the eight-year-old Haitian Food Festival, indulge in his aunt’s home cooking, and to explore the depths of his most cherished cuisine. His “postcard” says it all. –Karen Brooks
Note: Departure’s next Haiti fundraiser is Nov 18 and is sure to be a blow-out experience. Call 503-802-5370 for ticket info.