Josh Scofield | Age: 35 | Hometown: Portland
Six years ago, with a toddler at home and nearly a decade of late nights spent grinding away on the line at some of Portland’s top kitchens, Josh Scofield was ready for a change. “What is my niche? What can I add to this field?” the frank, budget-minded chef asked himself. “I was searching for a second act, a new identity,” he says. He happened to find it in his own basement, where he “MacGyver’d” a curing facility and, with the blessing of his Toro Bravo boss John Gorham, began experimenting with salami and sausage recipes. Today, Scofield is a hub of Gorham’s ever-expanding restaurant operation: his cured and fermented goods grace nearly half the plates at Toro Bravo, Tasty n Sons, and Tasty n Alder.
With a focus on lesser-known Spanish-style sausages and the techniques of curing whole muscles, Scofield is helping boost Portland’s charcuterie game. But just as important, he’s also steadily pushing Portland’s favorite Spanish-leaning restaurant group toward total pantry self-sufficiency. He’s curing everything from whole pork loin lomo smeared with Viridian Farms piment d’Espelette to fennel pollen–laced pepperoni sticks, preserving local tuna, brining pickles, and fermenting kimchi in the creepy subterranean warren of rooms beneath Toro Bravo with the zeal of a true believer stockpiling ammo for a zombie invasion. “If we can make a product in house cheaper and better ourselves, let’s do it,” he says, proudly pointing out the curing and fermentation rooms he and Gorham built last year. Next up? He’s thinking of tackling cheese.
• Josh’s Résumé: “Meat maestro,” chef, and commissary kitchen manager at Toro Bravo/Tasty n Sons/Tasty n Alder; grill/sauté cook at Wildwood; sous-chef at Taqueria Nueve; line cook at D.F.; oyster shucker at Jake’s Famous Crawfish
• Biggest Fan: “[His whole muscles] are just phenomenal. He’s on the lookout to be that guy in town for all of those things—speck, jamón, bresaola, lomo ...” says Gorham. “Our relationship is harmonious and symbiotic.”
• Signature Dish: A plate of soft, hot paprika–spiked Majorcan pork belly sobrasada drizzled with honey, or a few rounds of fabulous Spanish chorizo, bright with fermented tang.
• Food Fantasy: “We’ve talked about taking [Toro Bravo] retail,” Scofield says, cautiously. He imagines a mash-up of a European charcuterie counter and Gartner’s Country Meats, the beloved white-tiled butchery in Northeast Portland, featuring everything from affordable sausages to prepared foods, fresh stocks, and lunch meats for the kids. “A busy, no-nonsense place. Take a paper number and have your order ready,” he says.