Has “Top Chef: Portland” boosted the business of the city’s star restaurants? It’s hard to say.


As the Best Chef: Portland As the final approaches this Thursday, some of the local restaurants and businesses featured this season appear to be reaping the rewards of being featured on small screens across the country.

But it may just be a coincidence. This season airs as restrictions on coronaviruses are lifted after a grueling 16 months. Do people populate the patios because of the television or because they are tired of watching it?

Either way, Portland’s presentation on a beloved nationwide reality show comes at a good time, as the city tries to reassert itself as a tourist destination and its stakeholders cautiously move on. optimistic about the length of “busy”.

We asked six restaurants featured on the show what effect their Excellent chef cameo had for business.

Sara Hauman, one of the two local chefs featured this season, is the chef here, so naturally anyone doing a local tour of the companies featured on the show would travel to Carlton, Oregon to get a potential glimpse of the candidate.

According to Julia Bandy, director of sales and marketing for the vineyard, reservations have increased, making it difficult to manage as the restaurant is still at limited capacity.

“We’ve never been so reserved,” she says. “Some guests have absolutely come to see Sara since they watched her Excellent chef. “

Bandy added that not only were Soter employees excited to see Hauman compete, but they were happy to see Portland portrayed in a positive light after a difficult year.

“I think Portland is often overlooked as a destination city,” says Bandy. “It was a great opportunity to show the world a different side of our region.”

In Episode 3, Judge Kwame Onwuachi took the contestants to Portland’s only West African brick-and-mortar restaurant, which temporarily closed in December.

Owner Fatou Ouattara plans to reopen in a larger location later this year and has since returned to Ivory Coast to develop more recipes from her hometown to add to Akadi’s current offerings of peanut butter stew, fufu, spicy okra and curried spinach.

Since the episode aired, Ouattara remembers not wanting to be on the show initially, saying it felt “too good to be true”, until “many conversations” with the chef. and former of the Gregory Gourdet series. The experience, she said, was overwhelming at first, with so many cameras filming her cooking in a small kitchen, but ultimately rewarding.

“Because we are closed, we have received a lot of requests to reopen,” Ouattara said. “Our sauce sales have increased with this feature, so we’re hoping the hype will still be there when we come back for the reopening. “

Episode 3 looked at cuisine originating from the African diaspora, but also those with African influences, including Bake on the Run, a Guyanese food cart located in the Hawthorne Asylum pod in southeast Portland. Guyana, located in South America, is influenced from everywhere, including parts of the Caribbean, Africa, India and China.

Chef and owner Michael Singh and his mother, Bibi, drove the cart and said filming their segment of the episode was “lightning fast” – the crews showed up and in under an hour , they were gone. It is difficult for Singh to say if the functionality on Excellent chef has resulted in an increase in business as, thankfully, the cart ‘bloomed’ amid COVID restrictions.

“We were open all the time, and that only benefited us because everything else was closed,” he says. “Because of the spectacle, the whole basket benefits. As we are at the back, the people who come to pick us up must also overtake the other carts. “

Not only has foot traffic increased, but the restaurant’s online exposure has exploded.

“After the episode, we were initially getting 60,000 Google views per month,” says Singh. “We had an explosion and now we have over 130,000. I don’t know if that’s a lot.

It makes sense Best Chef: Portland would include an entire episode devoted to tofu – the city is home to America’s oldest tofu maker. Contestants traveled to Ota Tofu for Episode 10 “Tofu Tournament” and met with owner Jason Ogata to learn how he has been making tofu by hand for over a century.

Ota Tofu is only available at a small selection of local grocers, and many restaurants use it here, but Ogata said the episode resulted in dozens of emails asking when and if Ota could. start shipping his nigari-style tofu beyond Beaver State.

“We heard from companies who want to use high quality tofu and loved what they saw on the show,” Ogata said. “Even our social networks have exploded and clicks on our website have exploded. It showed us that we could certainly expand into other markets.

In Episode 12, Portland chef, restaurateur and local icon Vitaly Paley made an appearance as a guest judge. But right before filming the episode, Paley closed its classic downtown Headwaters and Imperial restaurants. The sadness he felt was palpable, he said, but being on set for the Oregon Trail themed challenge was reassuring.

“The fact that they pay attention to people like me, [Gourdet] and Noémie [Pomeroy]- people in the long-term culinary scene – was nice to see, ”he says.

Paley’s Place, the 25-year-old flagship of Paley and her partner Kimberley, is doing well, despite the deep gasps of the past year. And it’s not like Paley needs a boost from the show, either. Reservations before the pandemic had long been coveted.

The restaurant has been pushing its social media and newsletter to promote the show and, since its airing, has noticed a slight increase in business. “We’ve been very busy so it’s hard to say where this business came from,” he said. “People are just happy to be outside.”

In Episode 8, the show headed to the immediately recognizable event space in Southeast Portland for the Excellent chef Restaurant Wars fan favorite challenge.

If this season had happened at any time other than a pandemic, the Redd might not even have been available, says Tess Blessman, director of events.

“The main hall had been largely empty for months and was fortuitous for filming,” she says. “In a normal year, we wouldn’t have had the availability of the production team, so it worked out well.”

Once the space was cleared to reopen at reduced capacity, Blessman said she responded to a number of requests from people who saw the episode, especially the aerial shots of the building, and that the calendar of events has since filled up.

The best moments of Best Chef: Portland

Best Chef: Portland represents the 18th season of Best Reality TV Show, and as a mature teenager, there’s a lot less drama and harshness than some of the previous seasons, but there was still drama to spare. Ahead of this week’s finale, here are the top five moments and themes from our Bravo TV shine.

1. Jamie trying to leave in Maria’s place: In Season 18’s highest drama, Maria is knocked out for her fluff and Jamie, who is also at the back, begins to sob and asks the judges to give Maria a second chance. “It sounds like a Mexican telenovela,” says Maria. In the end, Maria hugs Jamie and asks him to “let me pack my knives with grace.”

2. Richard Blais’s hair: From a truly gorgeous pompadour in the first episode to all sorts of cascading ginger waves, the wacky hairstyles of the former contestant-turned-judge were a fun Easter egg in every episode.

3. Whole episode 1: As a Portlander, I couldn’t help but get dizzy seeing all the shots of Mount Hood, the rose garden, the city skyline, and even a reference to “put a bird on it ”. Not to mention hometown favorites like Gregory Gourdet, Vitaly Paley, Akadi and Gabe Rucker. It was really as if we had arrived.

4. The chefs cook with sacred first foods: In this episode, the Confederate tribes of Umatilla shared with the chiefs their first foods: salmon, sturgeon, rare duck potato and elderberry. The dishes of this episode remain, in my eyes, among the best of the season. Sara and Shota made a smelt-crusted smoked rabbit, for god’s sake.

5. Excellent chef attracts the wrath of Oregon’s wild lands: On a few occasions, the Beaver State retaliated. In Episode 4, Nelson twisted his knee while walking through the orchards of the Willamette Valley, and then Gabriel got stung by a yellow jacket. In the penultimate episode, Gregory Gourdet finds himself struggling with a Dungeness Crab, and Shota cuts his hand off while trying to pry open a clam. I can’t think of a season with more nature-induced injuries. ANDRÉ DAMEWOOD.

SEE : The final of Best Chef: Portland airs at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 30 on Bravo.


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