Jenn Louis making her mark with Northwest cuisine

Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:14am EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American chef Jenn Louis' culinary career is moving full steam ahead after several detours, including one where she was considering doing social work.

Louis, 40, co-owns Lincoln restaurant in Portland, Oregon, with her husband David Welch. Her simple, flavorful menu has earned a strong local following and praise from food critics.

Born in Pomona, California, Louis spoke with Reuters about Northwest cuisine, California's foie gras ban and working with her husband.

Q: What makes your guests come back for your food?

A: "I really know what the style of cuisine and the style of culture is up here. I think it's very approachable. The Northwest culture is very down to earth. People like nice things. They like nice cars, houses, clothes and all that kind of stuff. They like to be treated very well. They don't like a lot of fanfare around their enjoyment. They don't like a lot of formality. They like things very straight forward. That's very much who I am, and I think that comes out in my food."

Q: You showcase Northwest ingredients, but you don't use them exclusively. Why?

A: "I love to support local businesses. I love to support local farms. That's first and foremost what we do. If we only did that, we wouldn't have a very good variety. We wouldn't be very good cooks. Our repertoire would be narrow. So our food is well received because it's well crafted. Everything we have is made by hand with the exception of our bread, which we get from our local bakery."

Q: Why do you think your simple style works even when more people expect spectacles when they go out to eat?   Continued...

American chef Jenn Louis is pictured in Portland, Oregon in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters July 9, 2012. Louis' culinary career is moving full steam ahead after taking several detours that include one where she had considered being a social worker. REUTERS/Lincoln Restaurant/Handout.