Executive Chef: Gregory Gourdet
Born and raised in Queens, New York, Gourdet attended college in Montana where he studied wildlife, biology and French. It was in college where he began his culinary career – he and a roommate fell in love with simple cooking while experimenting in the kitchen with “college-kid” food. This ignited his passion and he began looking for culinary jobs around town. He landed two jobs, one as a dishwasher at the best restaurant in town and the other at a vegetarian friendly bookstore and deli. When it was recommended that Gourdet start culinary school, he finished up his bachelor’s degree and attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
After completing an externship with Jean-Georges Vongerichten in New York City and graduating culinary school, Gourdet began working in the famous chef’s kitchen full time. From there he began working his way up the culinary ladder – from garde manger to poissonier to saucier to sous chef and finally Chef de Cuisine at 66, a former Jean-Georges modern Chinese restaurant.
Needing a change of scenery and inspiration, Gourdet left New York City and briefly moved to Southern California. However, the food scene there was not as inspiring as he had hoped, so he packed his bags and moved to Portland, Oregon. Wanting a healthier lifestyle, Gourdet naturally fit in.
Professionally, he took the Chef de Cuisine position at Urban Farmer Restaurant at The Nines Hotel. When Gourdet was offered the Executive Chef role at Saucebox, he accepted the offer to work at Portland restaurateur Bruce Carey’s longtime hit restaurant. Focused on Pacific Island cuisine, Gourdet solidified his skills and soon The Nines tapped Gourdet to become Chef de Cuisine at the sexy rooftop restaurant and lounge, Departure. He jumped at the opportunity to be reunited with Sage Restaurant Group and expand on Departure’s modern Asian menu. Three years later he was titled Executive Chef of Departure, overseeing all of the restaurant’s needs.
Gourdet has received several awards and accolades for his skill in the kitchen. In 2011, Gourdet was nominated for Food & Wine’s People’s Best New Chef Northwest. He won the 2012 Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans becoming the first chef outside of a gulf state to win this esteemed title. Known for his flexibility when serving customers with special diets – Gourdet’s Brussels Sprouts with Chili and Lime were named one of the “Best Vegan Dishes In Portland” by The Oregonian. In September of 2012, Gourdet’s dish was voted “People’s Choice” at the annual Wild About Game competition at Oregon’s Timberline Lodge. That same year, he was also named Eater’s Hottest Chef in Portland. In 2013 Gourdet was awarded the honor of being named Chef of the Year by the Oregon Department of Agriculture for his work promoting Oregon bounty.
Gourdet is not your typical chef – he commutes in the rain on his bicycle, focuses on nutrition and takes personal and professional risks daily. He is the type of chef you want to hang out with, copy his style and, of course, eat his food. A chef who enjoys collaborating with other Portland chefs through dinners and events, he is known in the community for bringing people together. When not in the kitchen, Gourdet can be found trail running the mountains of the Columbia Gorge, happily eating his way through Portland’s best restaurants or in a hot yoga class.