Compliments of the Chef with Jenn Louis

Compliments of the Chef with Jenn Louis

This week, Chefs Feed met up with renowned chef Louis at her restaurant, Lincoln, in North Portland.

December 6, 2013
CF: I'm best known for my _______ style of cooking but I can make one hell of a _______. 
JL: ingredient-driven; taco 

CF: A few words your sous chef would use to describe you. 
JL: Focused, intense, and probably the funniest person he has ever met. 

CF: What are you most excited about right now in your restaurant? 
JL: I am in the process of editing my book on gnocchi and Italian dumplings. This is the first English-written book on the topic, and I had an amazing time both researching and writing it. There are 65 dumpling recipes catalogued; some are really unique and all are so delicious! I'm also hosting gnocchi tastings at Lincoln as I test recipes for the new book. The tasting consists of three half portions of regional gnocchi for $25. They can range from gnocchi ricci to a la Romana to sorcetti, but they all vary depending on my daily experiments. 

CF: Which chef would you drop everything to stage with? 
JL: Any Italian grandmother in Italy (or anywhere else). 

CF: Insider tip from the kitchen for diners. 
JL: Well-prepared food is delicious. A lot of us grew up with low-quality or poorly made foods, like bad canned beets or overcooked pork chops. When a good product is cooked properly, it is delicious! Try dishes and ingredients you think you do not like; you may just add something new to your "I love" list! 

CF: Message to professional food critics. 
JL: I always teach my line cooks to taste food not with the idea of “I like it” or “I don’t like it,” but rather for quality and balance. Is it a well-executed dish? Is it a creative pairing that is rooted in something that should be understood further? Is it the next big thing, or is it simply lovely? If a dish isn’t understood, ask about it. Perhaps it is intended to be a certain way for a reason. 

CF: One piece of advice for aspiring young chefs. 
JL: Work hard—really, really hard. Do everything you do at work with craftsmanship. 

CF: Is there anything you don't like? 
JL: Junk food. 

CF: Thick or thin patty? 
JL: I can't decide. I love an old-school, thin patty for its simplicity. It is less serious and usually smaller in size. I also love a thick patty, but not too big (around six ounces is perfect for me) since I love to eat a big pile of crispy fries, too. 

CF: What's your go-to shift drink? 
JL: It depends on the day, but it is mostly just bourbon either straight up or on the rocks. I rarely drink cocktails. 

CF: What's for family meal tonight? 
JL: Happy family albóndigas: chicken, beef, and pork meatballs with a chili-tomato broth and tortillas.