Market Chef : Aaron Adams

Market Chef : Aaron Adams

July 12, 2011 |  by  |  Chef Demos

Well folks, we’re only four weeks in over here at Chef Demo Blog HQ and an undeniable trend is emerging. As with the DC’s (demo chefs) before him, this weeks chef speaks about cooking not as a career but as a true vocation, a calling that came early and came strong, not to be ignored.

By the age of 12, chef Aaron Adams had become – much to the puzzlement and presumable chagrin of his Cuban (read : pork-eating) mother – a stalwart vegetarian. Like so many other young vegetarians who find themselves alone in a house of omnivores, Adams began to cook for himself, quickly finding a happy rhythm in the kitchen, discovering the satisfaction of feeding himself and others food that he felt good about. Obviously anything but a mindless eater, food was on Adams’ mind from the very beginning, and by age 16, his path couldn’t have been more clear. “I remember seeing these cooks hanging out in a back alley behind a fancy restaurant in San Francisco. I was 16, and these guys just seemed so swarthy, tough, and cool. I wanted to know what was going on with their lives, what the kitchen was like. I was totally sucked in and I knew I wanted to be a chef.”

He earned his chef-ing street cred through his late teens and early 20’s cooking in some “pretty crummy joints” around Seattle before heading into the comparatively cushy world of culinary school; a steakhouse here (hardly ideal for a vegetarian), a jazz club there. The harsh realities of restaurant kitchens – long hours and hot, crowded spaces – proved no match for Adams’ desire to be a chef.

After culinary school, Adams became a bit of a nomad, cutting his teeth at resorts in Guam, yacht clubs in Miami, and eventually landing in New York City under chef Neil Murphy at the Park Avenue Cafe. Working for three years as Murphy’s saucier was Adams’ ‘real culinary education’.

At 27, Adams felt ready at last to strike out on his own, but a brief foray into restaurant ownership in Florida didn’t work out. And so much the better for hungry Portlanders, as he came here to start fresh. He went vegan, sold his car and in 2010 opened Portobello Vegan Trattoria with his partner Dinae and “lived happily ever after”!

Chef Adams will be cooking up some of his delicious vegan fare this Sunday for us at the Montavilla Market – hope to see you there! Meanwhile, give this tasty vegan meal a go!

Portobello Ballotine from Aaron Adams of Portobello Vegan Trattoria

  • 12 medium Portobello caps
  • 2 cups dry Marsala
  • ½ bunch of rosemary, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Pull the stems of the portobello off and put aside for vegetable stock or sauces. Place the caps, gills up, on a baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 375 F. Cover the portobello caps with the wine and olive oil, then season with the rosemary, salt and pepper. Let marinate for half an hour, than roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Prepare the roasted crimini.

Roasted Crimini:

  • 2 pounds crimini mushrooms
  • 4 cloves of garlic, jpeeled and smashed
  • ½ ea yellow onion, sliced
  • ¼ bu Rosemary, minced
  • Grapeseed Oil as needed
  • S + P as needed

Place everything in a bowl and toss well. Use just enough grapeseed oil to coat everything. Roast in a 375 F oven for 20 minutes. Take out and cool. Meanwhile prepare some brown rice:

Brown Rice

  • ½ C uncooked brown rice, cooked with 1 C of water, brought to boil, then simmered, covered 45 minutes


In a cuisinart bowl with a chopping blade, pulse the brown rice and mushrooms until you have achieved a nice grind. Place in a bowl, and add:

  • 1 t dijon mustard
  • 1 T capers
  • fresh herbs to taste (we use minced parsley, tarragon, and chives)
  • Mix well and adjust seasoning.

To assemble Ballotines:

Lay a piece of parchment on a cutting board or maple top table. Slice the roasted portobello caps thin, on a extreme bias. You should end up with several thin slices of mushroom, about 1.5 inches wide and as long as the mushroom cap. Lay them out, overlapping, on the parchment, three slices tall by the length of your parchment (or until you run out) Mound the crimini mix along the center, like it’s sushi filling. Use the parchment to roll the porto over itself, like making sushi. You’ll end up with a long tube of parchment with portobello slices around a crimini center. With a sharp knife, slice through the paper about 3” lengths. Place the paper wrapped ballotines in the cooler on a plate until ready to serve. Roast at 400 F in an oiled pan with a little vegetable stock on the bottom for 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite seasonal vegetables.


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