Market Chef : Patrick Pugh

October 17, 2012 |  by  |  Chef Demos

Yes! It’s true! We have not one but TWO market chefs this week. Patrick Pugh (who you may recognize from around the market) will be bringing his chefing skills to the demo table to accompany Arnon Kartmazov and his sure-to-be amazing knife demo. Patrick is a relatively young chef, just starting to get his feet wet, and we’re thrilled to have him. Here’s a bit about the man himself!

1.Tell me a bit about what you do. What role does food play in your life?

Since my first job at an auto body shop here in Portland, I’ve enjoyed working with my hands. I eventually ended up in the service industry, and realized that restaurant work is where I wanted to be. My first job was at a home-style Italian restaurant, but eventually found my way to culinary school here, where I studied under chef instructors like Ken Rubin, Cory Schreiber, Eric Wynkoop, David Diffendorfer, and Hank Sawtelle. When I graduated, culinary jobs were actually rather few and far between, and searching for the perfect fit quickly took a back burner to just really needing a job. I ended up at Rogue Creamery, working for them at farmers markets around Portland. I just recently took a job as a chocolatier with a local vegan truffle maker, Missionary Chocolates.

2. What brought you to this work? Why is food so important to you?

Food is the lifeblood of existence, without it we wouldn’t last very long. However, I believe it is more than just eating to survive; every person has a palate, every culture has a tradition, different areas of the world have varieties of available meats, produce, seafood. I love creating, and I love exploring flavors, styles, and cultures. To love food is to explore and love all of those things.

3. What are some of your earliest food memories? When did you first know that food would be so important in your life & what was the catalyst for your realization?

My mother ran a catering business when I was young, and my dad would often help out. I had to try new things when I was growing up, and I definitely inherited my mom’s love for cooking.

4. What do you cook with you cook for your family/friends? What do you cook when you cook for just yourself?

For friends and family, I love to throw something on the grill, like Columbia River salmon, or some local grass fed beef. There are so many simple ways of taking a single main ingredient and presenting it different ways, with different flavors and cultural influences. I particularly gravitate towards a Japanese style of cooking ;  I always have rice on hand, or some noodles that I can turn into a stir fry, or a bento, some sort of soba or somen dish. Soy sauce, ginger, sesame, miso, and rice wine go a long ways in my kitchen at home, and can be found in many of my own meals.

5. What are your hopes for the future of the food culture in this country? In Portland? What are we doing right, what needs to change?

The amount and variety of food are amazing in this city of Portland, and I would love to see other cities follow suit. The competition in this town requires you to be unique, to try to be the best. All too often I see a restaurant pop up with the same old thing, and it’s just OK. With the availability of food, there’s no reason not to try to be the best.

6. If you don’t mind, would you share a recipe with us?

I love winter cooking – there is still terrific produce available, you just have to know what to do with it. This soup will take right around 40 minutes start to finish, and is a delicious, hearty meal. Using coconut milk and vegetable stock makes a vegetarian option, or beef and chicken stock will provide a rich flavor for those that prefer it.

Simple Squash Soup
1 lb Squash
1 Small Onion
.75 C Coconut Milk
2.5 C Stock of choice
1 T Butter (or oil for cooking)
Salt and Pepper

Cut pumpkin into large blocks and remove seeds. Slice pumpkin thinly. Heat butter (Oil) in saute pan and cook onion slices until softened (not brown). Add pumpkin slices to the pan and saute. Add stock and simmer vegetables until softened.
When cooked, whirl the vegetables and broth in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to the pan and add milk.
Heat the soup over low heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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