Antoinette Bruno: What inspired you to become a chef?
Kir Jenson: Growing up with immigrant parents. My mom is from Switzerland, and my dad is a butcher from Denmark. I was exposed to all different kinds of food. My mom cooked dinner every night, and there was always something baking in the oven. Cooking and baking for others is where I feel most at home, and I love to share some sugar love.
AB: How did you begin cooking?
KJ: During culinary school, I landed my first baking job at a really wonderful restaurant called Trio, located outside of Chicago. To this day that experience has been formidable in my culinary career. It was such a special place, and I was exposed to the best of the best, food-wise as well as peers. From there I moved on to the Ritz Carlton in downtown Chicago. I eventually made my way to Portland, and I've been here for the last 10 years. I've been super fortunate to work alongside some really talented chefs and bakers, Genoa, Noble Rot, Florio Bakery, and Criollo Bakery just to name a few. For the last three years I've been working for myself. In 2008, I decided to start a food cart, specializing in all things sweet. I bake everything in my 8 x 14 cart. Every day is a challenge, but one that I welcome. And it has made me a better chef.
AB: What advice to you offer aspiring chefs?
KJ: Learn from the best and from someone who inspires you. Keep your mouth shut and your head down and absorb as much as you possibly can. Accept every day as a new challenge and kick some ass. Don't be afraid to take some giant leaps to help push yourself in the direction you want to go.
AB: What is your food philosophy?
KJ: Never stop learning and challenging yourself, stay humble, and remember where you started from. Most importantly, ALWAYS put the love in your food. XO!
AB: What are your top three tips for pastry success?
KJ: I feel like the number one is sourcing the best ingredients. Quality's got to be there in order to build something. I'm lucky to live in a place with artisan chocolate, beer, and coffee. Also, working cleanly and efficiently is very important.