Market Chef : Eric Purugganan

July 1, 2011 |  by  |  Chef Demos

Well folks, it’s time for another installment of Market Chef News Weekly! A little late this week, and for that we sincerely apologize. We may be a little late, but none-the-worse for ware; this weeks’ chef is a real Portland up-and-comer! We’re proud to introduce you fine people to fellow fine person, sous chef at Gruner, none other than Eric Purugganan!

Born and raised in Kenai Alaska, Eric grew up with flavors of the northwest on his tongue and in his blood. His father, a chef, was and is his greatest inspiration in the kitchen. At just 27, the senior chef Purugganan found himself representing his home state of Hawai’i at the 1968 World’s Fair as the executive chef of the Hawaiian Pavillion. Eric found that as a child the best way to spend time with his father was in the kitchen, helping out with the family catering business. From age 11 on, he could be found at his father’s side helping out. As he worked, he developed not only a firm grasp of the workings of a professional kitchen, but also a bone-deep love for the craft. Over time, other jobs came and went –  the last of which was a relatively high-paying gig as a car salesmen – but it wasn’t long before chef Purugganan realized that happiness for him meant a life in the kitchen.

Following his passion at last, he moved to Portland from Alaska to pursue a culinary degree. Happy times in school lead to many wonderful jobs around town. Ryan O’Brien of the Portland City Grill was a particularly influential mentor, encouraging Purugganan to unleash his creative side by giving him freedom to develop dishes, and eventually even build an entire brunch program. At Gruner, Portland’s fabulous, minimalist outpost of “Alpine comfort food”, chef Purugganan can be found grinding meat for sausages, delicately assembling rich pork terrines, braising rabbits, and generally doing all the big manly, meaty sorts of things that make that Alpine comfort so darn comforting.

If you’ve ever been to the restaurant you’ve probably tasted the fruits of his labors, and tasty fruits they are! One of the most memorable bites that this writer has ever had in her life was at that very establishment, and as I spoke with him I couldn’t help myself. I flat out begged for a few tips that might help me recreate those unforgettable Beet-Pickled Eggs. So, now friends, I share the tips with you!

In his words: “horseradish, cornichon, garlic aioli, chives and parsley, salt.”

Well folks, it’s the best I could do. I’m going to venture that all those lovely things get folded in with the yolks, after the hard-boiled eggs themselves have had a nice little soak in some pickled beet juice. It may take a few trial and error sessions, but no one ever minds eating the leftover mess of a deviled egg tester batch – and with 4th of July around the corner, what’s an extra tray or two of imperfect deviled eggs? Have the neighbors over, they’ll be gone in a heartbeat and everyone will be happy.

Enjoy & we’ll see you at the market!


  1. Griselda Mustard

    Wonderful story about our home town, unforgettable, funny, best host, cook, chef, “ERIC BOY”! Never missed cooking for everyone at camp-outs, to fundraisers, weddings, school events, where ever food was needed. Eric was always requested to cook! Eric has the best ideas, and the taste was always out of this world. His ideas for a meal left you wondering, how did he ever come up with that. Wish I was near Portland to keep following his skills. Because we sure miss his talents in Alaska! Hope you keep following Eric, believe me, he will always surprise and impress you. Way to go Eric!

  2. I enjoy his cooking. It is very tasty. 🙂 Alright Eric!

  3. Portland has Eric on loan from Alaska; we expect him to bring his talents back home as soon as possible! Congrats Eric.


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