Put simply, Portland is a food and drink kind of place. Over the past decade, our fair city has steadily built a reputation as one of the best restaurant and beer destinations in the country, with a flourishing wine region and burgeoning distillery community to boot. And while this repu- tation does have something to do with Portlanders’ fervent support of eating and imbibing estab- lishments small and large, much credit must be given to the dedication of the creators and innovators behind our favorite restaurants and bars.
The eight Oregonians featured in the following pages cover all manner of food and drink ventures. Some have been part of the Portland food and drink community for years while others are just getting started. But the one thing they all have in common is their undeniable passion for what they do.
Interestingly enough, many of those profiled here made a distinct choice to leave behind other careers in order to pursue their food and drink-related interests. Leslie and Manuel Recio of the wildly influential Viridian Farms were working in social work and marketing respectively when they decided to change direction and buy Leslie’s parents’ farm. Melissa Burr, now winemaker at Stoller Family Estate, studied naturopathic medicine before following her love of wine to winemaking school, and Tracy Olson, owner of Random Order Coffeehouse & Bakery, finished law school prior to opening her cafe.
Indeed, a willingness to take risks and jump in head first is a trait that many of our subjects share. While their specialties may vary, these are individuals who are not afraid to push themselves and their staff out of their comfort zones, and how fortunate for us Portlanders that we get to come along for the ride.
After all, these are the people who have given us Oregon chardonnay, Meyer Lemon Explosion truffles, marionberry vodka, salted caramel apple pie, and Megafauna Imperial IPA. Who wouldn’t be thankful for that?