How do people live green in their everyday life? What motivates and inspires them? In Re-Nest's new column, Creative People, Living Green, I interview interesting people I meet to find out their habits, thoughts, creative pursuits, business ventures, and green living wisdom.
Today we catch up with a very talented Chef, Timothy Wastell of Portland, Oregon, about cooking as locally and sustainably as possible. With foraged produce such as ramps, nettles, morels and fiddlehead ferns on the spring menu, his creations inspire us to celebrate the season!
Timothy Wastell has been lead chef at one of Portland, Oregon's most beloved, romantic and seasonal restaurants for the past two years. He learned to cook at a young age; as a teenager in Michigan, he paid his dues working mostly in French restaurants. Timothy's approach to the menu at DOC and his cooking philosophy in general is to highlight nature's bounty — serving exquisite foods that involve strictly local, seasonal produce and humanely-raised meats from farmers he knows and frequently visits.
He summed it up best when he said, "Growing vegetables and tending to animals is much harder than cooking — the least I can do as a chef is to treat the labors of each of these with respect and dignity."
What's interesting about the food Timothy makes is his attention to the season and the locality of the ingredients he uses. He speaks of ramps, with their short growing period and presence as an unabashed announcement of spring, with a joyous tone and a smiling face. Speaking with Timothy reminded me why it's so wonderful to live here in Portland, with our bright gleaming moments, punctuating the rain. DOC, under Timothy's confident, conscious hands, is a lively place that will bring you right into the present moment. Here the chef serves creative dishes, unadorned, without unnecessary sauces, just pure ingredients bursting forth with honest flavor and integrity of location.
Name/Occupation: Timothy Wastell, Chef at DOC
What does a typical day look like?
My favorite days begin with the Portland Farmers Market, but every work day begins by looking ahead. First to preparing and organizing our ingredients from their raw states, to service, when the fruits of our labor reach the fruition of being enjoyed by our guests, to finally sitting down at the end of the night putting together a plan to do it all again tomorrow.
The term "green living" can be so generic. What does it mean to you?
To me the term "green living" means cooking with a conscience. From responsibly sourcing local seasonal produce, meats, fish, and dairy from people work with sustainable practices in mind, to minimizing our water use and our generated waste as a restaurant, to composting everything possible.
What inspires you?
I am inspired as a cook by the bounty of beautiful ingredients that we have to work with in the pacific northwest, specifically Portland, where you never have to look far for them.
The one thing you can't live without:
One thing that i cannot live without is great salt.
Favorite quote or personal mantra you live by?
One of my favorite ways to look at life is to refuse to stop learning and trying to better yourself and your surroundings.
• Visit DOC in Portland: DOC
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross. Originally published 2011-03-29)