PLENTY OF PORTLAND CHEFS have achieved celebrity status—especially within the borders of our notoriously navel-gazing universe (see: Portlandia). It’s rare, however, that a celebrated chef from another universe arrives at our city’s rainy doorstep. But Thomas Boyce, who spent 15 years at LA’s famed Spago restaurant under Wolfgang Puck (nine of them as chef de cuisine, or second in command), has been quietly braving our elements since June, watching and waiting. “I love LA, but I see people here doing something that I think is really special,” says Boyce. “The nation is really looking at this place. It’s a community that appreciates and supports the food scene.”
Last March, his wife, Kim Boyce (a star pastry chef in her own right), unveiled one of the year’s best cookbooks, Good to the Grain, and has been supplying irresistible buckwheat scones, date muffins, and flaky hand-pies to local coffee shops like Ristretto Roasters. The couple hopes to use this wholesale bakery as a springboard for a full-fledged restaurant—but while they continue to contemplate their place in Portland’s culinary constellation, we requested that Thomas tide us over with a recipe. A chef after our Oregonian hearts, he responded with this homemade buckwheat tajarin (worry not: you can also use store-bought pasta) featuring our favorite 10-legged crustacean. “Dungeness crab along the North Pacific is just dynamite,” he says, “and its richness and simplicity work really well with the earthiness of this pasta.” Heightened with pancetta and brightened with lemon, it’s a dish full of dimension—without a lot of ingredients. And until the Boyces make their next move, it’ll do just fine.