Morgan Brownlow to Cook at Tasty n Alder. Morgan Brownlow Gone from Tasty n Alder

This happened so fast my brain has whiplash. The biggest topic of conversation at the Quartet friends/press dinner on Monday, was that the notorious Morgan Brownlow was out of John Gorham’s new Tasty n Alder restaurant before he even started!

Gorham announced Morgan’s involvement a few weeks ago, saying that he would be cooking on the night shift. This raised lots of eyebrows, because Morgan has a reputation of being really difficult to work with – over the years I’ve gotten more nasty emails about his interactions with employees than any other chef.

The announcement was quickly followed by an interview of Morgan in Willamette Week by Michael Zusman. Here are a couple of quotes:


How do you respond to critics who say you’re impossible to work with…a screamer, crazed tyrant, etc.?

I’m an intense person. When I first sat down with John Gorham, he told me that I’m a bombshell, a powder keg. I’m just a really intense individual. But that’s no excuse for blowing up. And when I was younger, at Clarklewis, I did that. I know that I was out of line on multiple occasions.

Zusman had obviously heard the rumors of Brownlow’s once wild lifestyle and asked another pointed question:

Ever been treated for any mental health or drug and alcohol issues?

No. As far as alcohol goes, I mean, I’ll have a few drinks. But when you’re broke, you’re not going out drinking. I’ve never been arrested. I’m sure there’ve been a few times when I’ve drank too much, but it’s never had anything to do with my work.

I read the Willamette Week interview with Morgan, and then went back to read Nancy Rommelmann’s interview with him in 2007. It’s really interesting to compare the two. You can draw your own conclusions.

As far as Tasty n Alder goes, yes, it is now open for breakfast. I went in over the weekend and tried the “Bim Bop Bacon & Eggs”. Take a hot stone bowl, add rice which gets nice and crusty around the edges from the heat, add nice sweet chunks of pork belly, kimchi and break an egg over the top. Wow! It was an ‘A’ dish – I can’t wait until I can get off the couch and try more (housebound once again)

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. pdxyogi says

    If you read the comments after Nancy’s interview you’ll find several commenters defending Morgan who are actually Morgan, including “Forager”.
    Reading his own and hearing multiple reliable accounts of his rantings, grandiosity, exploitation of others, abusive behaviors, lack of remorse, lack of empathy for others, and he is a classic case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
    Glad he’s out at Tasty. What was Gorham thinking?

  2. gorham says

    I don’t get on these sites often, but i feel i must stop the beating down of brownlow. morgan has been working on himself for some time now. i’ve known morgan for a long time, and i’m not blind to his ups and downs. he is an encyclopedia of culinary knowledge, and was nothing but a pleasure to work with while he consulted toro bravo’s hcap plans.
    has morgan made some big mistakes in the past? yes! but everyone deserves second chances in life. although tasty n alder wasn’t the right fit for morgan, i’m happy i got to work beside morgan for past few months. there is no bad blood, and we hope to see him end up in the right kitchen soon.
    as for tasty n alder, kyle prewitt was always at the helm, and johnny maristela from toro bravo, and josh schmnel-bristow from tasty n sons will be leading the dinner program with myself at their side. i may take a risk from time to time, but i always have a backup plan!

  3. Guest says

    I concur with Gorham. Restaurants aren’t easy, but easy to judge on all aspects. There aren’t many other industries that have as many variables as restaurants, I own a restaurant and ideally just wanted it to not involve the drama, but it has and I think that Gorham defending his decisions is honorable. Not many people know how incestuous this industry is, but you support your friends to the end and I respect Gorham for that.

    • rdeo says

      Did you mean to say incestuous? I don’t know if that works in this context. But, more to the point, I think that you may have slightly misread John’s message. I agree that people deserve a second chance, and a third, and so on. I also think that Morgan may need to revisit his decisions to try and work with so many people close at hand. He is a great cook, he just can’t play well with others. Never has, never will. At least not for any period of time. John coming to his defense? Sort of. To me it sounds more like it is just part of a transition into making it clear that, yes, he hired Morgan because he’s looking out for everyone’s welfare, but make no mistake he “had a backup plan.” Fear not, my dining friends, John will not make a bad business decision that will interfere with the day to day operations of the restaurant. It was always clear. Right? He took a chance on Morgan, but not one that he hadn’t foreseen the failure of. Or something.

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