Does Portland’s lauded food scene taste as good as it looks on TV? Just ask chef Adam Sappington, whose Southern-themed restaurant The Country Cat starred in the popular Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
“People [see the episode] while flying into PDX,” says Sappington. “They land and bring their families from all over the United States, from New York to Florida. Our business doubled overnight.” And with meals like skillet-fried chicken and the Whole Hog Platter, featuring brined and grilled pork loin, roasted pork belly and braised shoulder, its popularity won’t be fading anytime soon.
But Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is no stranger to Portland; the city’s ever-popular Pine State Biscuits also made an appearance, with host Guy Fieri falling for the counter-order shop’s scratch-made biscuits, stellar gravy and fried chicken, which come together gloriously in the Reggie sandwich. Although the Belmont Street location featured on the show has closed, Pine State has two locations (on Alberta and Division) plus a walk-up window in Lloyd.
The Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern also filled up in Portland during a visit for his show, Bizzare Foods. Zimmern’s menu included boundary-breaking scoop shop Salt & Straw for melon and cured coppa ice cream, Olympia Provisions to sample their world-class salami and Lincoln for a taste of chef Jenn Louis’s elk ragù gnocchi (Louis has since transformed Lincoln into Ray, an Israeli-focused restaurant at the same location).
It’s not just Portland restaurants in the spotlight — Portland chefs are also getting national attention on reality competition shows. The Food Network’s Chopped has featured Adam and Jackie Sappington (the husband-and-wife team from The Country Cat), Nong Poonsukwattana (of Nong’s Khao Man Gai), Jose Chesa (of Ataula), Anh Luu (of Tapalaya), Aaron Barnett (of St. Jack) and Han Ly Hwang (of Kim Jong Grillin), among others.
Season 12 of Bravo’s Top Chef was a showcase of Portland talent, with chefs Doug Adams (of Imperial) and Gregory Gourdet (of Departure) making up two of the final three “cheftestants.” Veteran chefs Naomi Pomeroy (of Beast and Expatriate) and Jenn Louis (of Lincoln) have also made appearances on Top Chef Masters.