WATCH: “Top Chef”
It's here—finally, Portland gets its time in the Top Chef spotlight. Of course, the glass-half-empty way to look at it is that Bravo's acclaimed reality TV cooking competition decided to come here at a time when COVID was decimating the food scene. But either way, the attention is long overdue. Two of the 15 contestants are locals: Mama Bird's Gabriel Pascuzzi and Soter Vineyards' Sara Hauman, while Departure chef and Season 12 finalist Gregory Gourdet will appear as a guest judge. What else to expect? Well, based on the trailer, there will be cameos by Oregon Health & Science University employees, tap handles and blocks of Tillamook cheddar in the set design—and an appearance by Fred and Carrie, because of course. Season premiere 8 pm Thursday, April 1, on Bravo.
GO: Sketchy People at Cult
Full disclosure: This art show exhibits the work of the person who designed this page. But there's a reason this newspaper employs Jack Kent, and that's best understood through his comics series Sketchy People. The name says it all, or most of it: Kent keeps his eye out for interesting characters wandering around Portland and sketches whomever catches it—a pierced and tattooed punk asleep on the MAX, a father and daughter on an e-scooter, a man in a horse-head mask panhandling for "hay" on Southeast Hawthorne. Think of it as Bill Cunningham by way of a boardwalk caricaturist. Kent will be showing (and selling) 10 of his favorite prints at Pearl District curio shop Cult. Cult, 1204 NW Glisan St. 4-8 pm Thursday, April 1.
STREAM: The Thesis
Livestreamed DJ sets and acoustic shows have become commonplace during the pandemic, but virtual hip-hop shows have been few and far between. Thankfully, long-standing local hip-hop showcase the Thesis is back, after more than a year off, with its first livestream. Headlined by confessional rapper KayelaJ, helmed by resident DJ Verbz and broadcast from Kelly's Olympian, it'll be as close to back to normal as possible. 8 pm Thursday, April 1, at thethesispdx.com. Free, donations accepted.
WATCH: “Smiley Face”
This Thursday is April Fool's Day, so why not put on a film that focuses on a lovable goofball? In this supremely underrated 2007 stoner comedy from Gregg Araki, a slacker actress (Anna Faris) eats her roommate's cupcakes without realizing they're laced with pot. Now, she has to complete a list of tasks (replace the cupcakes, get to an audition, pay the electricity bill, etc.), all while stoned out of her mind. Adam Brody and John Krasinski co-star. Streams on Amazon Prime and other platforms.
SEE: “French Exit”
Whether bickering bandits or moneyed layabouts, characters by Portland author Patrick deWitt have leapt off his pages and onto screens for 10 years now, attracting actors from John C. Reilly to Joaquin Phoenix to Jake Gyllenhaal and now, in the adaptation of 2018's French Exit, Michelle Pfeiffer and Lucas Hedges. Dubbed a "Tragedy of Manners" in its subtitle, French Exit follows a codependent mother and adult son, once wealthy but now hard up. Like a more cultured version of Arrested Development's Lucille and Buster Bluth, Frances and Malcolm Price have little left but each other's company and their considerable wit. From a borrowed Paris apartment, the Prices make their last stand, pouring their remaining funds into comically absurd yet personally resonant goose chases. Opens Friday, April 2, at Century 16 Cedar Hills, Century 16 Eastport and Liberty.
EAT: Gabriel Rucker’s Burger Pop-Up
Gabriel Rucker is one of Portland's most inventive superstar chefs. But the throughline of all his various enterprises—Le Pigeon, Canard and the late, lamented Little Bird—is his burger. Rucker has hustled to stay afloat during the pandemic, offering his unpretentious interpretations of French fine dining in a couple of different forms, but his signature item has remained elusive. As the straightforward name implies, the burger is the star at this pop-up, held picnic-style right around the corner from Le Pigeon, but it's joined by another Rucker trademark: his foie gras profiteroles. Meals are $25 and also come with a butter leaf salad. First come, first served. Southeast 8th Avenue and East Burnside Street. Noon-6 pm Friday, April 2.
LISTEN: “Promises” by Pharoah Sanders, Floating Points and the London Symphony Orchestra
Promises, Pharoah Sanders' new album with Floating Points and the London Symphony Orchestra, is a marvel. The 80-year-old saxophonist solos—first sedately, then grandly—over florets of harpsichord and bells that eventually swell into the sweeping majesty you hire symphony orchestras for in the first place. It would've been ballsier, though, to credit the album just to Sanders: Most orchestral jazz albums have a legion of goons backing up a leader, and there's no question who's in charge here. Stream on Spotify.
PLAY: Ori and the Will of the Wisps
A true testament to the storytelling power of video games, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a tearjerker. In the sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest, players control the same tiny, lemurlike spirit, this time on a quest to find a baby owl and save a poisoned marsh. Without giving away any spoilers, the plot includes some heartbreaking twists that are made all the more devastating by the lush, luminous animation and wonder-inducing score. A single-player adventure game that sometimes requires frustratingly precise maneuvers to advance the plot, Will of the Wisps does take some patience. But hey, you can't really go anywhere for spring break this year, so you might as well spend it wandering around a magical, gorgeously rendered virtual landscape. Orithegame.com. Available for Switch, Xbox and Windows.
EXPLORE: Chinese Cooking Demystified
In any other epoch, delving into Chinese Cooking Demystified's hours of cooking videos would seem incredibly intimidating. Many of the YouTube channel's recipes—which range from regional street food favorites to old-school Cantonese dishes—require extensive prep work, obscure ingredients and seemingly every pot and pan you own. But during the pandemic, most of us have a lot of time to kill, and the uncommon ingredients are a great excuse to explore the wonderful Asian supermarkets that line 82nd Avenue. If you want an easy place to start, we recommend Chinese Cooking Demystified's recipe for highly addictive, hand-pulled biang biang noodles. Aside from the two-and-a-half hour cumulative resting period—which isn't all that annoying when you're working from home anyway—it's a pretty simple recipe and requires only standard American pantry items to make the silky, chewy noodles. Watch on YouTube.