culinary student likes portland.
hey guys. i'm a culinary student living in the orange county area of southern california. me and a fellow cook are considering making the move to portland together after shool. it seems to us that there's more of a restaurant community there. the few places we've researched look fantastic. so far, we've heard good things about ten 01, le pigeon, beast, paley's place, el toro bravo. if there are any cooks or chefs out there that can give us some advice on where to look for work, and affordable areas to live, it would be much appreciated. we're trying to make a trip up there in the winter time to check things out. where should we eat when we go?
While the service industry numbers here are quite high (owing not only to transplants but the fact that there are also two culinary schools in Portland itself), there's always bound to be an opening.
Keep in mind that while "name" places like Le Pigeon and Pok Pok and Toro Bravo get a lot of play outside of Portland, within town there's plenty of places that have just as much local cachet, such as Biwa or Clyde Common. I've got a friend who's eschewing an externship in Chicago and opting to stay local. Economics were one reason, but really staying within the Portland community was another. Basically, an externship at Blackbird/Avec is great, but is it that much better than working under a chef that everyone in Portland already knows and trusts (not only skill-wise but staffing-wise)?
It's a small enough town where line cooks work shifts in different restaurants all the time and everyone's cool.
As far as places to live, the great majority of service industry people live east of the river. Not only is the eastside generally more affordable but at the end of the day, it's much much larger than points west (including downtown). You could live in the burbs but man that would suck for commute. Staying near a main transit artery like Hawthorne, Division, Burnside or Powell will ensure that there's always plenty of buses.
If you're taking a car, consider also that the east side has better parking, though you'll still end up walking when you can. Or you can get a bike or scooter and fit right in.
As far as where to find work, Craigslist is a very popular choice, but nothing is ever as good as having a good local recommendation. Make friends when you arrive here, and ask around to see who's hiring.
Gear up. It's been raining non stop for the past week, and will continue to do so for the next week. I say bring a fleece and a beanie or a hat. Don't worry, you'll be climatized in no time (I moved from Hollywood here and now I don't even blink if it's only 50 degrees.)
Wow. Thanks so much for all that info, Sauce. I'll keep all of that in mind. We're not planning on coming for a visit until 2 months or so. And we won't be done with school and ready to move for about another year or so. I'm just trying to get some early advice about what to expect. Will definitely try to make some friends and meet as many people as I can when we make our trip. Not worried about the weather at all, but will come prepared. I've always preferred cold and rainy over hot and sunny.
Sauce, are you in the industry? You seem to know lots about cooks and where they live/work.
Once upon a time, but not anymore. I still have plenty of friends who work in kitchens and I tend to hang out in "industry" bars, since the vibe is great and the drinks are strong.
For instance, I'm just about to head out the door for happy hour at Victory. Corpse Reviver #4, here I come!
Making a stop along the way in LA, SF, or Napa might bolster your resume for Portland. Portland is to chefs like LA is to actors, so consider that.
That said, people are always coming and going.
I think your list thus far is good, I'd add looking at Carlyle, Alba Osteria, Fenouil, Higgins, Wildwood, Alberta Street Oyster Bar and Grill, and Lucier.
Most of the town is affordable, consider living near work and eliminate the need for a car. A shocking concept coming from SoCal I'm sure but a real possibility in Portland.
Eat at all the places listed for dinners and then maybe the food carts downtown for cheap eats.
Bring an umbrella.