2011 Portland Rising Star Sustainability winner Sunny Jin does an impressive juggling act. He’s responsible for restaurant service at the Allison Inn & Spa’s Jory, banquets, room service, spa menus, and picnic baskets. But he still finds time to visit all his purveyors to compare notes on running an outfit as sustainably as possible. Among his many sustainable efforts are raising bees that produce the restaurant’s honey supply and tending to a small onsite chef’s garden with an ambitious expansion in the works. For this Oregon chef, local product, especially its produce, is why he calls Newberg home.
It’s no wonder that Jin has such an appreciation for Oregon produce. He’s circled the globe, but it was here that he started his culinary career, at Portland’s Western Culinary Institute, where Jin graduated at the top of his class, received the Grand Toque Award, and went on to complete his externship at The French Laundry. He stayed on for three years under Thomas Keller and Corey Lee and had the opportunity to craft and execute daily menus from top-notch product. Jin couldn’t resist the opportunity to work with Tetsuya Wakuda (one of the top Japanese, Australian-based chefs), though, and moved to Sydney, Australia’s Tetsuya’s. While there, Jin traveled throughout Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, and Thailand, exposing his curious mind and palate to new flavor profiles and ideas.
Jin came back to the States, only to leave immediately for El Bulli in Catalonia. He worked there for the 2009 season under Ferran Adrià and Oriol Castro. Afterward he traveled to France, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands before returning home, to Oregon, drawn by a love of produce similar to the European markets he had just left behind. It’s the state’s produce that is at the heart of his cuisine at Jory, executed with the impeccable technique you’d expect from a disciple of Keller, Adria and Wakuda, and hints of the approach of all three. And thanks to that produce and Jin’s efforts, the Allison Inn achieved LEED Gold certification in 2010—an indelible, though sustainable, footprint on the trail of this global traveler.