The Portland Rising Star Award Winners and Why They Shine
When we came to the City of Roses last year for IACP’s annual conference, we knew we had to make it a Rising Star city—and fast. It wasn’t just the micro-breweries, distilleries, and coffee roasters. It was Portland’s pioneering spirit—the excited ambition that has stellar chefs opening their own carts and tiny, 30- to 50-seat restaurants. The result? Each operation, be it fine dining restaurant or humble food cart, puts its own stamp on the Portland food scene. It’s become a land of opportunity for restaurant folk, where chefs can follow their passion (whether it’s baked goods from just the right flour, or high-end sustainable fare) wherever it might take them—for very little money. It almost seems like the underdogs here are the 100-seat restaurants.
We tasted savory dishes, desserts, cocktails, and wine pairings from more than 90 of Portland’s talented chefs, pastry chefs, mixologists, and sommeliers. Only 17 earned the title of Rising Star. Why do they shine? Our winners were chosen for their creativity, ambition, and most importantly, a stand-out dish, wine pairing, or cocktail.
As if nailing all those things weren’t impressive enough, each Rising Star has qualities that make it clear he or she is the future leader in the national culinary scene—the up-and-coming vanguard of food and drink. Here’s an introduction to the 2011 Portland winners—who they are, what makes them shine, and how they’re defining the future of American cuisine.
MIXOLOGIST: Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Clyde Common
Jeffrey Morgenthaler is one of the major figures in the Portland (and U.S.) craft cocktail scene. His off-the-charts cocktail pairings with Clyde Common Chef Chris DiMinno’s Northwest Barber-esque dishes are as impressive as his buzzed-about barrel-aged cocktails. And Morgenthaler’s skills behind the bar have not only helped make the restaurant a success, but have revitalized the neighborhood. Instead of jealously guarding his knowledge, Morgenthaler shares everything from techniques to recipes (to the less sexy, but necessary costing sheets) on his website, extending his knowledge to a national community of mixologists. He’s revitalized the interest in barrel-aged cocktails and was the major pioneer stateside of the technique, proving himself a leader not only in the Portland mixo scene, but across the nation.
The Drinks that Clinched It: