The Chefs Behind Portland's Ox Talk Ecuadorian Food and Easy Bake Ovens
GD: I’ve known I wanted to be a chef since I was four years old and got an Easy-Bake Oven as a present. My father managed a place called Lum’s, which was an East Coast chain. I started dishwashing and prepping when I was about nine years old—it might not have been legal.
GQD: Growing up, I spent summers at my family home in Ecuador, in Quito in the Andes. It gave me a big appreciation for what used to be peasant cuts, like offal, and for vegetables. Those trips were a huge influence on the menu when we opened Ox; they still are.
Spain's Grilling Meccas
GQD: The highlights of our honeymoon in Spain were two meals: Etxebarri in the Basque region and Elkano near San Sebastián. At Etxebarri, the chef makes his own grill pans. Elkano is right on the coast, and it serves whole fish that’s cooked outdoors with salt and olive oil. Both of those meals showed how simple, grilled food can be perfect.
Italian Fantasy Meal
GQD: My dream meal spans the length of Italy. I would start in Piedmont with vitello tonnato, then go to Il Gabriello in Rome for spaghetti with sea urchin. Next, Santa Margherita Ligure on the Ligurian coast for whole roasted fish and olives. For dessert, someone would put a bottle of limoncelloon the table.