The Northwest has access to both high-quality farms and the cool waters of the Pacific ocean. This unique positioning yields remarkable talent. We take a look at 10 of the best chefs operating in North West America, providing everything from authentic Italian fare to restaurants nestled in mountain lodge retreats.
Canadian-born chef Aaron Barnett was exposed to good food and culinary experimentation from a young age. Following on from the early encouragement of his family, Barnett attended the California School of Culinary Art’s Cordon Bleu program. His talent in the kitchen took him to Vancouver, San Francisco and La Quinta and his charisma helped win him the opportunity to assist chef Rob Feenie on Food Network Canada. Barnett opened St. Jack PDX in 2010, where he updates the classic French café style, infusing it with the flavours of the Pacific Northwest. Dishes such as roasted bone marrow or fisherman’s stew are key to Barnett’s vision, remaining hearty and comforting enough to be at once intriguing and familiar.
St. Jack PDX, 1610 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 360 1281
Chef Chris Ainsworth has an impressive pedigree. Renowned for incredible flavour combinations, his knack for innovative experimentation and for being a James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalist six times, Chris Ainsworth is firmly established on the culinary scene. His creations at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen are testament to this. Saffron provides a small, intimate setting that is both cosy and inviting. The menu is bursting with unique flavours, inspired by international cuisines such as the aromatic spices of Morocco, the fresh abundance of Sardinia, the fusion cuisine of Turkey and the simple, classic flavours from Greece.
From the street, Canlis resembles a contemporary luxury home more than it does a restaurant. This 60-year-old, elegant restaurant is no ordinary establishment: the team at Canlis pride themselves on providing a high-quality special occasion destination, requiring adherence to a dress-code. The effort to create a truly sophisticated dining experience is evocative of the luxury of bygone days. Chef Jason Franey serves grown-up comfort food that has been given considerable twist: try cauliflower soup with granny smith apples, or rosemary-grilled lamb loin with Thumbelina carrots. After the delicious repast, why not complete you meal with the local favourite, the Canlis Soufflé.
At the Lone Mountain Ranch, chef Nick Steen caters for big appetites to great effect. Don’t be fooled, this isn’t just a meat-and-potatoes restaurant: Steen recently served 30 local guests a 5-course meal complete with impeccable wine pairings (click here to read more about the feast). When you live in a state in which cattle outnumber people 3:1 however, you can count on good quality meat. His laid-back personality shines through his craft, with unassuming food that marries quality with carefully considered flavours. For his famous pork chops with apples, Steen uses pork tenderloin glazed with apple, maple and bourbon, to be served alongside local purple fingerling potatoes. With an expansive and beautiful view and a spectacular feast, there’s no wonder that people flock here.
Chef Steven Topple was born and raised in England, where he attended culinary school at Highbury College. After culinary school, he worked in Scotland and London before making his way to American. Once in America, he worked at restaurants in upstate New York, South Carolina, San Francisco and Colorado before finding himself in McCall, Idaho. He is now head chef presiding over two sister properties; the Shore Lodge resort and the planned residential community, Whitetail Club. Topple combines his wealth of experience with international influences to provide his patrons with food that is rustic, yet elegant.
Shore Lodge, 501 W Lake St. McCall, ID, USA, +1 800 657 6464