Two Oregon Restaurants Made The New York Times’ Top 50 in America List

“Food is culture and Haitian culture is rich and delicious,” honoree Gregory Gourdet of Kann responded.

Gregory Gourdet Gregory Gourdet in Conversation with Michelle Tam.

Two Oregon restaurants are among the finest in the entire nation.

That’s according to The New York Times, which released its annual America’s Best Restaurants list on Sept. 19.

Celebrity chef Gregory Gourdet’s brand-new project, Kann, was one of two in our state to be honored. The weeks-old restaurant was praised for treating “the food of his Haitian forebears with the seriousness he learned to apply to Asian and European cuisine as a young chef working for Jean-Georges Vongerichten,” who is a world-renowned restaurateur with dozens of businesses across the globe, including New York’s famed Jean-Georges. The Times went on to say that Kann “leans into the lapel-grabbing power of dynamically spiced, live-fire cooking.”

Gourdet responded to the recognition on his Instagram account.

“Grateful to be recognized by @nytimes as a restaurant making waves in the country,” the post stated. “Thank you to our entire incredible team that works to create the experience we do. Food is culture and Haitian culture is rich and delicious. Honored to share the story of Haiti and our indigenous and African past through food.”

Prior to opening Kann, Gourdet was best known to Portlanders as the executive chef at Departure, the Asian-influenced restaurant perched on the top floor of the Nines Hotel downtown. He was also a competitor on two different seasons of Bravo’s Top Chef. And just this past June, Gourdet won a James Beard Media Award for his cookbook, Everyone’s Table.

Kann has long been in the works—the pandemic forced Gourdet to push pause on his plans to bring the Haitian cuisine of his youth to a city where it is underrepresented. The restaurant’s opening was pushed back to 2022, but while waiting for both the global health crisis and the hospitality industry to stabilize, Gourdet launched a tented pop-up version called Kann Winter Village last year.

The Times also recognized another Oregon restaurant, although one far from foodie-centric Portland. Mäs, which started as a basement pop-up in 2018 before moving into a permanent space that same year, is located in downtown Ashland—just steps from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s venues.

“Josh Dorcak is creating what he calls Cascadian cuisine as a series of Japanese-influenced, picturesque miniatures of memorable poise,” reviewer Brett Anderson wrote. “Salty plum-cured rockfish with fermented blueberries and compressed pluots, chawanmushi built from a corn dashi mixed with goat milk, enriched with king crab and finished with preserved roses and fresh marigolds,” made up a recent tasting menu.

Dorcak is known for pairing his dishes with sake, and using as many locally grown ingredients as possible in the cuisine. That includes produce from the farmers market and white truffles unearthed from the banks of the Umpqua River.

All of that freshness must result in wonderfully bracing flavors. The Times added that Dorcak’s cooking “will leave you feeling as if you’ve drawn a breath of Technicolor mountain air.”

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