Celebrated chef Vitaly Paley on Portland's culinary 'awakening'

Celebrated chef Vitaly Paley on Portland's culinary 'awakening'
Vitaly Paley, chef owner of Paley's Place Bistro & Bar, Imperial and Portland Penny Diner.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Vitaly Paley is among Portland’s most decorated chefs.

The chef and owner of Paley's Place Bistro & Bar, Imperial and Portland Penny Diner is regularly featured in major travel publications and in 2005 took home one of the industry’s biggest honors, the coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest.

As part of our coverage this week on Portland’s robust culinary scene (subscribers can click here to see our print edition cover story), freelance writer Sean Meyers posed questions to a collection of top Portland chefs.

Here, Paley — who has worked at prestigious outposts stretching from New York to France — explains what drew him to Portland, and why he’s stayed.

Portland Business Journal: How did Portland develop such a robust culinary scene?

Vitaly Paley: I don’t now the real answer. I’ve been happy to be part of it, happy to be on the ground floor. It’s been decades in the making, a cultural awakening with the growth of the wine industry, the ocean only an hour away, wildlife, foraging. Yes, it rains nine months a year, but what comes out of the ground is pretty special. All we needed was enough population density.

PBJ: Why are you in Portland and not some other previously established culinary hot spot?

Paley: I wanted to be on the ground floor. I was working in New York, and Portland was where I wanted to be. I wanted to be at the inception of something wonderful and grand. I didn’t have a crystal ball, but I had a premonition.

PBJ: Other than your own restaurant, what’s your favorite place to eat in Portland?

Paley: I’m a very big fan of ethnic food, especially Mexican. Autentica and Nuestra Cocina are a couple of my favorites. I also like sushi — Bamboo Sushi, Sinju, Yama.

PBJ: Is there a restaurant we should keep an eye on?

Paley: I really don’t have an answer. I’ve been so busy making sure my new business enterprises are up and running.

The Portland Business Journal is a KATU.com news partner.

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