Round Table with Jenn Louis

Accompanying our “Food Trippers” article, and in anticipation for the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival, here’s an extended Q&A with Portland-based celebrity Chef Jenn Louis.

Q. How would you describe your cuisine?

It changes. Having cooked most of my career in the Pacific Northwest, I cook seasonally. What grows seasonally is going to taste best. Tomatoes go from the farm, to my kitchen. I don’t serve tomatoes in December, because they’re not going to taste good. It lets you appreciate what’s in season. I think there’s a lot of health benefits to eating seasonally. I think it [my style] changes a little bit. I travel a lot, and I’m influenced by the people I meet. Every time I travel, I try to bring things home. [So, you might be bringing something home after HFWF?] I definitely will be bringing something home!

Q.  What is your favorite culinary discovery?

About six years ago, when I opened Lincoln, we decided to serve only fresh pasta. I’ve always learned different types of pasta. I’ve learned different types of gnocchi, just finished a book about Italian dumplings by region. Catalog of Italian dumplings. I call it a catalog and handbook. Out spring 2015 through Chronicle—all regional, authentic recipes.

Q.  Name one person (living or dead) whom you would like to cook for.

My dad. He is still living. My mom passed away about a year and a half ago. He never cooked. He now cooks from scratch. He has a whole new appreciation for what I do. He’s 72, and he appreciates food in a way he never did before.  I’ll go to his house, and we’ll cook together. He tries a new recipe each season for his guests.

Q. What are you looking forward to experiencing at HFWF 2014?

I think Hawai‘i has a very unique culture. Looking forward to, of course, the weather. It’s island time. It’s a little more relaxed. I think the natural resources from Hawai‘i are just phenomenal. It’s far away from everything, so influences are less … I’m really flattered to be included in this Festival; it’s very special.

For more information on this year’s Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival, visit www.hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com.

Image courtesy David L. Reamer

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