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Dustin Clark
Executive Chef
Dustin Clark says in the Pacific Northwest, he has found some of the best produce worldwide. "When I spent three months traveling around Europe, I always compared it to the great fruits and vegetables in Oregon. Even the open-air markets in Nice on the coast of France didn't measure up," he says.

A South Dakota native, Dustin began work in restaurants during his teen years after having spent his youth fishing, hunting and gardening. At 18, he was enrolled at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, and did one of his externships at Wildwood. "I hadn't been introduced to Cory yet," says Dustin, "when he followed me around on my first day. He thought my method for cooking asparagus was unusual. Then he tried one," Cory has trusted Dustin ever since. "His influence on Wildwood's menu has brought a deeper focus to the study and definitions of foods of the Pacific Northwest," notes Cory. "Dustin understands the raw product so well - he puts in into its simplest form, which emphasizes its true flavor." In 2006, Dustin quickly moved to Chef de Cuisine, and on to Executive Chef at Wildwood.

Dustin has a very cerebral approach to cooking, and he especially enjoys preparing game. "The challenge is to balance and enhance the flavors," he says. "The mistake is when other flavors on the plate overpower a mild taste, like rabbit, or to not use strong enough tastes so that they're lost next to the flavors of wild game."
   
 
Michelle Vernier
Pastry Chef
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Joining the Wildwood team in January 2006, Michelle Vernier brings with her a solid background not only in creating delectable desserts, but in baking great bread and savory dishes, as well. Most recently the Pastry Chef at the restaurant blu in Boston, she is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and worked in the Boston area for many years, including a stint at Jody Adams' Rialto. “Having worked with Jody myself,” Cory Schreiber says (at Seasons Restaurant in the Bostonian Hotel), “I knew Michelle would bring finesse, flavor and style to the pastry program at Wildwood.”

Michelle moved to Portland, sight unseen, even though it was the rainy winter season, because she knew reputation of the produce of the Pacific Northwest. "That and the smell of pine trees,” she jokes. “The summer berries and cherries Oregon is known for was such a draw for me."

When asked about her childhood, Michelle says quickly, "I think I learned how to cook as soon as I learned to walk.” Growing up with an Italian mother who regularly made ravioli and gnocchi, she vividly remembers gathering morels and raspberries with her grandmother in her home state of Michigan. "My grandmother was an amazing gardener, and she made the most beautiful lemon meringue pies I've ever seen!"

After a summer traveling through Europe, Michelle came back from Paris yearning to know more about breads and pastries. She worked with bread baker Michael Rhodes at Sel de la Terre in Boston, and in the years that followed began to refine her baking style. Working with quality ingredients to showcase their flavors, Michelle feels there should be a natural flow between the savory courses and the dessert course. “I try to simplify and unify tastes in order to make the true flavor shine through.”

   
 

Jeff Moore
Wine Director

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As former wine manager of the Red Feather Lounge in Idaho, Jeff Moore kept the Boise restaurant's multi-level blue neon "wine tower" stocked with the best of the Pacific Northwest. In 2004, he moved to Portland in search of a restaurant with a similar approach to local food and wine. The self-taught aficionado immediately found a home as a server at Wildwood, where the seasonal wine list is designed to complement the body and flavor of the menu's cuisine.

As grape production in the region has burgeoned beyond pinot, so has Jeff's passion. "It's all about finesse," he says of his own personal collection, which is heavy on elegant burgundies and chablis, but has grown to include some more audacious Australian varietals. With the total number in his cellar hovering around 600 bottles, invitations to Jeff's dinner parties are coveted among the Wildwood staff. Blessed with an encyclopedic memory for the educational aspects of oenophilia as well as specific wines he may have tasted only once long ago, he has begun the process to become a Master Sommelier.

As Wildwood's wine director, Jeff accentuates the wine list with a handful of old world wines while retaining its original concept. "We will always be supportive of the local wine industry because it is part of Wildwood's tradition. By broadening our scope, we're providing a slightly bigger picture and hopefully a fuller appreciation for our local artisans."

   
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