About Andrew Fortgang
Andrew Fortgang is Co-Owner and Wine Director of Le Pigeon and Little Bird Bistro, award-winning restaurants in Portland, Oregon that challenge the notions of classic French cuisine. In addition to managing all day-to-day operations of two of Portland’s most popular restaurants, Fortgang cultivates the world class beverage menu, pairing beer and wine with the co-owner chef, two-time James Beard Award-winning Chef Gabriel Rucker’s menu. Fortgang surrounds himself with good food, good people, and great wine, living by the motto that “Life is too short to drink anything else.” Born and raised in New York City into a family that loves to eat and drink, Fortgang’s profession is also his passion, starting in the kitchen of the famed Gramercy Tavern at the age of sixteen. Following stints in kitchens at Jean-Georges and Aureole, and upon the completion of his studies at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, he returned to Gramercy Tavern as a floor manager and director of the cheese program. With extensive experience in both back and front of house roles, Fortgang began to gravitate toward a focus in wine. Fortgang went on to serve as the beverage director at Craft Restaurant overseeing the wine list, and facilitated the development of the beverage programs at Craftbar, Craftsteak New York, and Craft Dallas. His work led him to his wife Lauren, who worked at Craft as a pastry chef. In 2007, the couple moved to Portland where Chef Rucker immediately hired Fortgang as manager of his recently opened, overnight success, Le Pigeon. In 2010, Fortgang and Rucker opened their second restaurant, Little Bird Bistro, in Downtown Portland. When not at one of the restaurants, Fortgang can be found at home (in the backyard, weather permitting) with Lauren and their children. Under Fortgang’s management, Le Pigeon and Little Bird have become two of Portland’s most critically acclaimed restaurants, earning many accolades including The Oregonian’s Restaurant of the Year in 2008 for Le Pigeon and 2012 for Little Bird, Food & Wine Best New Chef 2007, and Portland Monthly’s Chefs of the Year, Le Pigeon was ranked as the eighth best restaurant in America by The Daily Meal, one of Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Best American Wine Restaurants in 2015 and 2016, named among Travel + Leisure's 10 Best French Restaurants in the US, highlighted in Art Culinaire, The Guardian, Zagat, Kinfolk, Details Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Wine Spectator, SF Chronicle, and USA Today. Fortgang was featured in the Wall Street Journal’s guide to where sommeliers like to drink on their days off. The restaurant has been featured in episodes of NBC New York and Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. Le Pigeon released their first cookbook, Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird (Ten Speed Press), in September 2013. Forwarded by Chef Tom Colicchio, the cookbook is a serious yet playful collection of 150 recipes celebrating Rucker's high-low extremes in cooking combining the wild and the refined in a unique and progressive style, plus wine pairings and stories from the kitchen by Fortgang, receiving national acclaim from media and chefs alike, including Andrew Zimmern’s Top Cookbooks of 2013, Food Republic’s Top 20 Cookbooks, one of Financial Times’ Books of the Year, Food Network Favorite Fall Books, praised in UK Independent, Wall Street Journal, Eater, and The Week, and was a finalist for a 2014 IACP Cookbook award.