When native Oregonian Naomi Pomeroy took home the 2014 James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest for her intimate 24-seat restaurant, Beast, it was the culmination of many years of success. Since opening Beast in Northeast Portland in 2007, Pomeroy has been named one of the top six of a new generation of female chefs by Bon Appétit (2008) and recognized as one of the “10 Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine (2009). In 2010, Pomeroy was awarded top honors for women in business by both Oprah Magazine and Marie Claire. She represented Portland on season three of “Top Chef Masters” and served as a judge during the 10th season of “Top Chef.”
Closer to home, she’s enjoying success at Expatriate, a cocktail bar across the street from Beast that she opened with her husband, Kyle Linden Webster, in 2013. We met at one of her staple lunch spots, Roman Candle, to talk about some of her favorite culinary destinations around Portland.
Kerry Newberry: Let’s start with the basics. What are you looking for when you go out to eat?
Naomi Pomeroy: When I go out, I want service. I want to sit down and not think about anything. I want to have a bottle of wine. I want to just be in the luxurious moment. It doesn’t have to be fancy at all. It can just be a mason jar of wine and something super simple.
KN: Where would you go for something like that?
NP: Paley’s Place. It’s totally relaxing. The food is classic, straightforward and a little bit French. It’s all great ingredients, simple production.
KN: What’s a particular craving you have, and where does it send you?
NP: Pho Oregon on Northeast 82nd Avenue. I love the pho with brisket and slices of round steak.
KN: What’s your favorite place to eat with a group of friends?
NP: Wong’s King Seafood Restaurant for dim sum. You can have 10 people or more, the menu is really big, and there’s something for everybody.
KN: We live in a coffee town. Is there a coffee shop that knows your order?
NP: Extracto Coffeehouse and Roastery is, for sure, my neighborhood coffee shop. It’s one block from Beast and just two blocks from my house. I think their coffee is really delicious. I buy their beans for home, too.
KN: And with the recent doughnut craze, I have to ask, do you have one with your coffee?
NP: I try not to. You’re asking me in this moment when I’m trying to have a clean day. I go back and forth; I’m like a pendulum. Sometimes I eat fried chicken and doughnuts. And other days I just eat hummus and greens.
KN: Any doughnut in particular that you can’t resist?
NP: Pip’s Original Doughnuts [on Northeast Fremont Street] — made-to-order, little tiny doughnuts. They have one that has honey and fleur de sel glaze that’s really simple, and it’s one of my favorite things.
KN: Do you have a favorite bakery for bread?
NP: I have people whom I work with for different things. I get all my levain bread from Ken’s Artisan Bakery. But I get my baguettes and brioche from Little T Baker. Ken just [let me try] a new croissant he’s working on that’s extra buttery and airy, if you can imagine that. My mind was blown by the result. And I didn’t even have it hot out of the oven or anything.
KN: And to pair with the baguettes, do you have a go-to cheese shop?
NP: I get all my cheese from Steve [Jones] at Cheese Bar, for the restaurant and for my house — that’s definitely my go-to. He’s so great because he keeps everything at its premium. He doesn’t put stuff out until it’s ripe, and he doesn’t keep stuff in that’s overripe.
KN: At Beast you cook with local ingredients. Do you have a favorite farmers market?
NP: I go to all of them. I love the Wednesday market at Shemanski Park because it’s not super crowded. It’s the most enjoyable market for me. If I want to make jam or something like that, I would probably buy my berries at the Wednesday market and then make it on Thursday, which is a quieter day for me at the restaurant.
KN: What’s your neighborhood market?
NP: I go to New Seasons probably two to three times a day. It’s fantastic. They have everything. I love that they even have Doritos. I love health food, and that’s mostly what I eat, but sometimes you just want Oreos.
KN: Speaking of sweet things, where will you go if you’re heading out for dessert?
NP: Kristen Murray at Maurice is doing lovely things, and it’s beautiful. Her aesthetics fall right in line with mine. And I think Alissa at Frice Pastry is doing a really good job. She made my wedding cake. Actually, she made five cakes for us. We mostly just ate wedding cake for our wedding, because we couldn’t figure out who would cater it. I made some barbecue chicken, and then we had five cakes.
KN: What’s your weekend indulgence?
NP: On the weekends, it’s more like I’m going to indulge in some quinoa and kale, because of what I eat during the week — a yoga class and some quinoa and kale. Or Sweedeedee. I was just thinking about how much I love that place.
KN: How about a brunch?
NP: My favorite brunch item in town is, hands down, the Benedict at Olympia Provisions. It’s the best Benedict I’ve ever had in my life. The eggs are poached perfectly, and the hollandaise is amazing. The potato is pommes Anna style. It’s ridiculous — really tasty.
KN: What about cocktails?
NP: Because of the hours I work, I generally just go right across to Expatriate. [Whispers] Even if I didn’t own it or wasn’t married to the bartender there, it’s my favorite bar. If I’m going to go out for cocktails, I go to Rum Club.
KN: When you head out to wine country, where might you end up?
NP: I like the Eyrie Vineyards tasting room because it’s super simple and really old school. I love anything that’s steeped in tradition. And I love going out to McMinnville to eat at Thistle Restaurant & Bar.
KN: Do you have any other favorite spots around town?
NP: If I weren’t a chef, I would be a florist or a botanist. I think that food and plants are very relatable. And recently I’ve been going to this nursery called Pomarius. I am super obsessed with that place right now. I’ve been planting every square foot of everything recently and spending all my money there.
For more tastes of Oregon: Find Naomi Pomeroy and dozens of other award-winning local and national chefs at Feast Portland: A Celebration of Oregon Bounty, September 14 to 17, 2017. It’s four days, 30 events and uncountable culinary experiences. Find out about events like the Widmer Brothers Brewing Sandwich Invitational, the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting and the Tillamook Brunch Village at FeastPortland.com. And follow the festivities on Facebook and Instagram.