Feast Portland Interviews
Q&A: April Bloomfield
New York’s gastropub pioneer talks snout-to-tail cooking and the ethics of celebrity chef status.
Feast Portland, one of the country's most original food festivals, lands in the Rose City September 20–23. To count down to the event, read Eat Beat's daily interviews with seven of the great food thinkers coming to participate in this illustrious culinary throw-down—and where to catch them.
Q: You sparked America’s gastropub movement. Your tables at the Spotted Pig and the Beslin are among the most coveted in New York. Most chefs at your level are building empires, far removed from the heat of the trenches. Yet you are always on the line, cooking your cuisine. Why haven’t you joined the ranks of chefs who take a step back from the kitchen to build their brands?
A: I love being in the kitchen. I feel very comfortable when I’m cooking. When I’m in the restaurants, I’m able to keep learning and refining my craft, which is very important to me. It’s important to me to keep producing a quality product, and the only way you’re going to do that is by being present.
You’re known for loving pig parts, and you own a restaurant inside New York’s Ace Hotel, a spin-off of Portland’s hipster headquarters. Have you ever been tempted to open a restaurant in Portland, a city devoted to your cooking dogma?
I love Portland, and I think it’s a really special place. Of course it’s a chef’s dream to open a restaurant where there is great produce and a food-loving community. People in Portland are great to cook for because they respect where the food comes from and the chef’s passion behind each dish.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
I have always had the dream of being a police officer. I think I would be good at it. I’d love to have a go. I’d love to go on a run with a police officer or maybe do a swap—they come to the kitchen, I go out on patrol.
Would you ever date a vegetarian?
As much as I love vegetables, I enjoy being able to share an intimate meal with someone and experience the food together. It’s quite nice to share your favorite meal with someone too, and mine happens to be a nice roast chicken.
What’s on your must-eat list in Portland?
I’m doing a dinner at Lincoln Restaurant with Jenn Louis, which I’m really excited about. Pok Pok is always delicious, and I’d love to eat at Podnahs Pit. I hear their barbecue is great. I also have to go to Little Bird. I’m a huge fan of Gabe Rucker after meeting him in 2007. He’s a great guy and talented chef.
Catch April Bloomfield at the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting, with the region’s most celebrated wineries, breweries, vendors, and artisans. Friday, Sept 21, 2 pm at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Bon Appétit Presents Feast Portland (feastportland.com) is a region-defining celebration of everything that makes Portland awesome, Sept 20–23. All proceeds benefit hunger relief organizations Share Our Strength and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon.