Chris DiMinno is head chef at Clyde Common, the celebrated restaurant at Ace Hotel Portland. Chris has innovated local, seasonal cuisine by working closely with regional farms and his brilliant staff to create an experience that woos newcomers and the Portland foodie old guard alike.
Food & Wine has nominated Chris for Best New Chef in the Northwest (which surprises no one). Go express your love by voting for him — the race to the finish ends tomorrow.
He shard some words with us about nerdy breakfasts, keeping dollars streaming back to local farms, and junk food.
Food at the Clyde riffs on the adventurous, regionally loyal spirit of the Northwest, with particular high notes in favor of Portland. When you’re creating the menu, are you thinking of locals or of Ace guests and other travelers coming through and experiencing this local fare for the first time?
When we’re creating the dishes, we think of everyone. There are certain dishes on the menu that everyone can enjoy, and then there are some dishes for the more adventuous eater. I like that I can work in a restaurant where two people can sit at a table; one person can order the burger and the other can order the crispy fried calves’ brains.
What’s your guiding inspiration for Clyde cuisine? The menu changes frequently but always has a recognizable personality.
My inspiration for the food at the Clyde comes from many places. It was somewhat of a coincidence that my style of food was in-line with Clyde before I even got to Portland. Now I base the food mostly on the pristine produce, meat and fish that comes from the Pacific Northwest, as well as my past experiences in other restaurants. I am also very fortunate to have a staff that contributes many ideas to the menu, and we all work together to make sure the dish is appropriate for the restaurant.
What are some of your most prized relationships with local farmers, fishers and ranchers?
I am very fortunate to work with many local farmers, and when possible we get as much of our product as possible from them. I love to give local farmers money. It really makes a difference. Our lamb comes from Cattail Creek Farm, and our pigs come from Square Peg Farm. Our produce comes from a variety of different sources in the area, and when the farmers’ markets are open, we are there three times a week.
Tell me about a typical breakfast you make at home on a busy morning.
When it comes to breakfast, I’m a bit of a nerd. I sort of have the breakfast on the back of the Honey Nut Cheerios box. A bowl of cereal, a glass of orange juice, a cup of yogurt, a banana and usually about 5 cups of coffee.
And favorite junk food in Portland?
Portland is amazing for junk food. I’m addicted to anything that comes out of the kitchen at Bunk Sandwiches, I’m a sucker for the enormous plate of Nachos at the Matador, and the burritos at Los gorditos are amazing.
Photo by Allison Jones