Christopher Israel

Chef Chris Israel

Christopher Israel was named one of Food & Wine's "50 Hall of Fame Best New Chefs" in 2015. Israel is considered a pioneer of the food scene in Portland, Oregon, where he's helmed four award-winning, groundbreaking restaurants: Zefira, Saucebox, 23Hoyt, and Grüner.


Christopher Israel worked under Joyce Goldstein at the famed Square One in San Francisco for four years. He credits her for teaching him about classic regional European cuisine. Israel put that knowledge to practice when he opened his first Portland restaurant Zefira. With its neighborhood vibe, art-filled walls, and ever-changing menu that took diners to Tuscany, Morocco, and the French countryside, Zefira captivated Portland for a decade. It won The Oregonian's "Restaurant of the Year" in 1990. Israel's Asian fusion concept Saucebox also won the newspaper's top honor in 1998. He took a six-year break from cooking and moved to New York to take an associate art director position at Vanity Fair. When Israel returned to Portland, he helmed yet another acclaimed restaurant, 23Hoyt, which Esquire chose as one of the 10 best new restaurants in America in 2007. Israel was nominated twice for a James Beard Award for his next restaurant, the Alpine-themed Grüner, which opened in 2009. He is credited with helping to transform South Portland from a culinary wasteland to a vibrant dining destination.


Christopher graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in Art History.

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