Nearly one year after seafood-focused restaurant Roe reopened in downtown Portland, its well-known and much-lauded head chef and co-owner is out.
The ownership team behind Roe announced late Friday afternoon that Trent Pierce has resigned for "personal reasons," and that the decision is mutual. A call to the restaurant earlier this week revealed that he had actually been on sabbatical for the last two months.
"Trent worked to build Roe into one of the finest restaurants in the country," Benjamin Blank, a partner in Roe Purveyors, said in a press release issued Friday afternoon. "Though he hasn't been involved in day-to-day operations for months, and we're moving forward with his separation from the corporate entity, he's been gracious in assisting this transition. We wish him well and hope he spends the time to get his life where he wants it to be."
Roe's chef de cuisine, John Conlin, has been promoted to head chef—though he's effectively been in that role since coming on three months ago, running the kitchen with longtime sous chef Patrick Shulz. Conlin has experience at several notable eateries in New York, including the Michelin-starred Le Restaurant.
Roe, known for its French and Japanese cooking techniques and multi-course menus, relocated to the Morgan Building on Southwest Broadway from its much-smaller Southeast Division location in December 2017. WW named it Restaurant of the Year in 2013 due to its inventive preparation of salmon, cod and oyster, mixing ocean-sourced protein with local produce.
Pierce, a Barlow High School grad who comes from a family who's been involved in Portland's food scene for generations, was nominated for best chef in the Northwest by the James Beard Foundation three times.