Gregory is the executive chef at one of Portland's hottest downtown restaurants, Departure. When he's cooking at home, he keeps things simple with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in his colorful kitchen. Come take a peek at this wildly vibrant kitchen!
Gregory Gourdet is from Queens. His culinary roots stem from family gatherings and a mother who'd always make a cake or nice dessert. Gregory's focus now is on seasonal, locally–sourced pan-Asian cuisine, but he swears his sweet tooth remains from his childhood days.
This chef follows a diet high in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and no dairy or wheat. Within his restrictions, he finds creativity and new flavors.
For example, for our visit he served a pineapple upside-down cake made with shredded coconut and honey as well as Paleo yuzu lemon bars. Both confections were unlike anything I've had before; they tickled my palate with salty, sweet and rich and delighted my husband when I shared them with him. I waited until we had devoured both treats to tell him they were made without refined sugar or flour. Amazing!
Gregory is also an incredible athlete, running marathons and riding his bicycle all over town, so he likes to keep his body fueled with highly nutritious foods.
The kitchen here is full of natural light (crucial in rainy Portland), tons of plants and a lot of fresh produce. It's an average space with a far above average chef who makes use of the space for recipe testing and quick meals between 16-hour work days. The juicer and the blender get the most use for fresh juice and smoothies.
And just because I know you're all curious, the balloons were left over from a party his roommate threw at a nearby restaurant and we just had to get them in the photograph.
10 Questions for Gregory (and his kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
I am inspired by the seasons, the weather and mother nature. I like to stand outside and look around at the trees, foliage and sky. I like to feel the breeze or rain or sun. The feelings the elements evoke in me dictate what I feel like cooking. During the fall I want to roast whole chickens and squash with spices and honey. During the short, hot Portland summer I want to eat grilled greens and gorge on berries and stone fruits. And make gazpacho out of every vegetable.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
I love my Vita-Prep blender. It is indispensable. I do everything in it from spice mixes like my garam masala to vinaigrette to vegetable purées and seasonal soups, both hot and cold. I'm lucky enough to have a couple at work. I will bite the bullet and purchase one for home eventually.
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
I have enjoyed Sunday night dinners with different groups of friends equally. It's just nice to be able to sit outside of a restaurant setting sometime and be really casual. My parents are visiting at the end of summer and we are planning a big Haitian feast like we used to have when we lived together in New York. That will be quite memorable. I'm really excited to cook with my mother again, it's been years since my parents live so far away now. I'm excited to make Haitian food for my Portland friends who have never had it. That is going to be a fun night of roasted meats, rice dishes, plantains and spicy scotch bonnet peppers.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
It's not physical, it's a time issue. I'm at the restaurant 12 to 16 hours a day and am never home. When I cook at home I have to make just enough food for that meal. Left overs go un-eaten because I'm never home to eat them. I usually bring extras to work the next day and give it to my cooks.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
We have electric and that is what the stove runs on. We can't switch to gas. Also the red paint is a bit grandma's country kitchen for me. We've made it work but I plan to paint it a light bright blue or marigold for a cheery airy feel. I love bright color. And more plants! I love the tropical feel.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen?
My Omega 8005 Juicer. It juices really, really well. Very quiet, maximum extraction and easy clean up. I juice and use the juice to make next level smoothies for breakfasts. Always with lots of ginger and ripe mangoes. I love super fruits and veggies too like beets, carrots and kale.
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
I need to upgrade my sauté pans. I also love all Le Creuset and plan on collecting all the essential pieces and colors. I try to be simple and avoid clutter though so I keep things at basic necessity.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
100% health focused with Asian influence. I only make wholesome and healthy food. And yes it must be full-flavored. I love roasting things, caramelized aromatics, spices, always chiles, ginger and acid. I love teaching myself alternative baking and all my home desserts are dairy and gluten free. I cook bold, bright flavors.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
Season from the beginning. Take time to season and cook each layer of a dish. The final flavors of the dish will be round and most developed this way. Cook from the fond up.
10. What are you cooking this week?
We are having our first warm weather BBQ this Sunday. Lots of grilled meats and fish, grilled market greens like kale raab with spicy/garlicky vinaigrette, potato salad with grilled chilies and onions. Vegan coconut cupcakes made with coconut flour.
• Stove/oven: Old school Whirlpool
• Pots and pans: Le Creuset
• Dishes: collected and handed down from roommate's Thai/Chinese family.
• Visit Gregory's restaurant: Departure
Thank you so much for letting us peek into your kitchen, Gregory!
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(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)