Runner-up: Michael Lalewicz, The Depot, Seaview, Washington
Honorable Mention: Alec Evans, Astoria Coffeehouse & Bistro
From 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Street 14 Café morphs from daytime coffeehouse to an evening farm-to-table restaurant presided over by Chef Andrew Catalano, whom Coast Weekend readers consider the Best Chef in the area.
“If I was to distill our mission to one value,” Catalano says, “it is to be a part of the community and to support our local farms.”
The restaurant is small, seating less than 40, which means, Catalano says, “I get to cook every plate.” Because he’s dependent on local produce, Catalano changes the menu every week, and it’s always simple food that shows off expert execution. On the menu, he also credits all the local farmers, purveyors and foragers that supply the restaurant.
“We’re produce driven,” he says, “There’s meat and fish on the menu, but the stars are our beautiful vegetables.” Catalano uses whatever cooking technique is suitable for the food available, and he handcrafts almost all the pasta used at Street 14, something unique on the coast. He also does a lot of fermenting because, “It unlocks a lot of flavors you can’t get any other way,” he says.
Chef Catalano first learned to cook from his mother, which was followed by on-the-job training in an organic farm kitchen in Italy, and then with experienced chefs in New York. In the process, he came to the conclusion that it’s important for food to be connected place, something he found lacking when he arrived in Oregon.
“We’re taking a small step in that direction,” says Catalano.