Pastry chef Kim Boyce previously of Campanile and husband Thomas, former chef de cuisine at Spago in Los Angeles, Arrive On Portland’s Baking Scene
She is the author of the highly rated “Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours” released in 2010. She worked for years with Nancy Silverton, founder of Campanile and La Brea Bakery, who wrote the intro to her book.
I asked her what brought her to Portland, and what her future plans are.
After living and working in Los Angeles for 14 years, we needed a change. Thomas had been the chef de cuisine at Spago for the last nine years, I had worked in pastry kitchens in Los Angeles with my last job being pastry chef at Campanile. I left the kitchen to have kids and then began work on a cookbook. As our girls got older we realized that we wanted to raise them in a smaller city. We took a week in the fall of 2008 to explore Portland and decided that we wanted to be part of what was going on in this city.
The food – we ate at as many restaurants as we could and time and time again we were amazed to see how enthusiastic the diners of Portland were and how good the food was. We noticed that chefs here are making a living cooking the food they want. They were inspiring.
The farmers’ market – we walked into the PSU market to a table overflowing with local chanterelles, which you don’t find in Los Angeles. Then there were apples and squash, local cheeses and honey. We noticed all the bakery stands and we realized that this was a town we wanted to cook in.
The community – the scale of the city lends itself to having a metropolitan flair while it lives like a small town. Like Los Angeles the chefs all knew one another and seemed to support each other. That was important to us. We wanted to know our neighbors.
Once we finally got to Portland, I was sitting on a bench eating bagels with my kids and Nancy [Rommelmann] walked by. I had been to Ristretto during IACP and heard her and Din talk at their Williams shop. I introduced myself and asked if she needed pastries. After a tasting she took on a few items and then more and more and starting Saturday I’ll be baking for both of the stores. Baking for them has been very rewarding because they really like pastry and that’s important.
As for future plans, we’re not sure. Thomas to Portland to cook, I came to bake. Right now we’re taking the time to think through our ideas. In the meantime I get to bake for Ristretto. I’m also teaching cooking classes and holding book signings for my cookbook, Good to the Grain.
Kim is thus far featuring seasonal items from the local area, currently raspberry scones, and sand cookies, and a sweet bread made with Sauvie Island strawberries; two types of savory tarts (ricotta with greens and breadcrumbs, and ricotta with greens and prosciutto (she makes the tart dough; Thomas makes the fillings); chocolate-chocolate nib cookies; rhubarb tarts; and apricot-crumble bars. She can be contacted at KimBoyceBakes.com
[Note: Nancy Rommelmann, occasional contributor to this site, is the wife of Ristretto owner Din Johnson]