The Daily Meal's video producer, Ali Rosen, caught up with Greg Gourdet, chef at Departure Restaurant & Lounge in Portland, Ore., to talk about the city's vibrant dining scene and how it's influenced by the fresh produce in the area.
With regards to Portland’s food being described as "hippie," Gourdet says, "There’s definitely that element of being really in touch with the farm land, really talking about super seasonal items and just using what's available at any given time." And when it comes to the culture of the city and how that influences the dining scene, he says, "People are really casual in Portland, but the cuisine and the elevation that we take the whole culinary scene to, innovative, I believe — you can get really amazing service from lifetime servers, lifetime chefs, chef-driven restaurants; people who are always there and are really focused on taking things to the next level."
When it comes to Departure Restaurant, the confluence of the accessible and widely varied produce and the casual nature of the city inspires Gourdet to let the ingredients speak for themselves. "I personally really enjoy cooking vegetables; I'm a big vegetable chef," he says. Having a solid working relationship with farmers and purveyors in the area also makes a big difference. "It's about being able to tell your guests that this salmon was caught two days ago by these Native Americans just a few miles out on the Columbia River," he says. "It’s really about connecting and being able to offer that treatment so they're getting more than just a delicious meal."
While the farm-to-table concept has clearly taken hold across the country, the experience in Oregon is unique in many ways. "I think a lot of people see it as a movement, but for us it's just a lifestyle, it's just what we do," says Gourdet.
Watch the video above to hear more from chef Gourdet about the Portland dining scene.