Pascal Sauton Steps Away From Carafe Bistro

I received a note yesterday from Pascal Sauton that he was no longer involved with Carafe, the French bistro on Market street across from the Keller Auditorium.

Pascal says “as far as he knows the restaurant will stay open”, but that he “has no idea what direction it will take”. He is going to “take a little break and pursue some interests I’ve had for a while”.

From an email sent to friends,

“Over the past 7 and half years, it has been a pleasure to operate this restaurant. We had many successes and many challenges, as do all businesses. But in the end, I want to thank all of you who have supported this venture, as well as the many employees who have worked very hard to make Carafe what it was.”

Born and trained in France, with cooking sojourns in New York to South America, Sauton deliberately set down stakes in Portland, because, he says, “Oregon is a candy store for chefs.” Pascal is known for doing things his way without paying a lot of attention to what other people think. In 2006 he raised more than a few eyebrows with this letter to the animal rights organizations -

“Dear Animal Right Activist,

Thank you for stopping by at Carafe last Saturday and for filling out our comment cards. We appreciate that you took the time to express your opinion.

However, you have expressed it to the wrong people… You should have done a little bit of research before wasting your time. You see, we are probably the most stubborn people in this country’s restaurant industry! We love foie gras – it is delicious – and we love the people who produce it. They are passionate, respectful of the animals and very ethical in their way of producing it. We know: we visited the farm.

Did you?

Just so you know, we will NEVER remove Foie Gras from our menu. We sell about 200 orders of it a month! There are too many people enjoying it who come to our restaurant just for that. The 8 comment cards you filled Saturday are the ONLY one I ever received in 3 years of business compared to hundreds we received to thank us for serving Foie Gras!

And we boil lobsters alive and serve oysters on the half shell too…

You are wasting your time here and you are not welcomed in our restaurant. The more publicity you create about Foie Gras, the more we sell. You do me a favor!”

“Long Live Foie Gras!”

You can read our interview with Pascal here.

Pascal has been quite active over the years in fundraising for many organizations such as OBT and Portland Opera. His name frequently comes up in connection with these activities. In 2010 he recieved a Hearo in the Arts Award from the BCA. If you ever get a chance, buy him a drink – he’s a great guy.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. glainie says

    This is all oddly vague. Did he sell the restaurant? Are the current employees staying? Does he not hold any equity in the business, allowing him to just walk away? I’m happy for Pascal in as far as his pursuing other interests, but something isn’t adding up. The only scenario I can figure is that Pascal never owned the restaurant in the first place (or a majority interest), which would make sense based on his comments regarding the future of the place. Hmmmm, well, good luck Pascal!

    • The Wizard Tim says

      All restaurants have investors, silent partners, etc. How else would he have been able to open a restaurant downtown by the Keller Auditorium?

      • says

        It is not true that all restaurants have investors, silent partners…I know because I own one outright. Why would you make that kind of statement?

        By the way, kudos to Pascal and his letter to the foie gras haters!! But, I am, too, interested in knowing wtf…

        • nathaniel says

          There is an article on Oregonlive that elaborates on this story. Among other things there is mention of changes in his personal life, that would appear to have a perhaps significant influence in this situation… but the article covers this better than I could and without any added speculation. In any event, loved Carafe, think Pascal is a cool dude not to mention a great contribution to the scene, and wish him and Carafe the best going forward!

        • The Wizard Tim says

          I didn’t literally mean every single restaurant in Portland. Sorry, FFS, SOME restaurants, like the one that is being talked about here. Jesus Christ.

          • Fat Milo's Mom says

            Wow! Wizard Tim! I was mildly irritated by your HUGE generalization too. I saw that someone else commented on it, & left it at that. Then I saw your second really irritating comment. I too own my restaurant outright, & frequently get bothered by people who make general assumptions about my silent partners & financial backers. My four kids & husband are anything BUT silent, & my financial backers are my customers. Good Luck, Pascal!

          • Wizard Tim says

            What a horrible generalization, restaurants, SOME restaurants have financial backers, why is this so offensive? Wasn’t meant to piss anyone off. So I misspoke and forgot to say SOME restaurants have financial backers, like Carafe, which is the restaurant in question here. So should i take your statement to mean that there are NO restaurants with silent partners and financial support. Should a restaurant owner here WITH financial backing be offended by your comment? Not sure why it is so HUGELY offensive? To open and run a successful restaurant like Carafe in downtown Portland takes a fair amount of cash, there’s nothing wrong with silent partners or financial backing.

    • Food Dude says

      I don’t think it matters why he isn’t with Carafe any more. Let’s just leave it at that and wish him good luck!

      • mczlaw says

        Dude, that would not be the Portland blog commentator way. This needs to be sliced and diced from every possible angle and topped with a generous sprinkling of naked speculation.

        –mcz

        • polloelastico says

          In all fairness, blog proprietors themselves, including this very one, trade in the same type of angle butchery and speculative nudism you afford to us blog commentators.

  2. spare_wheel says

    In that quote Sauton appears to revel in causing animals pain. Call me naive, but I thought that minimizing the suffering of animals we eat is something that even balaclava-wearing activists and restaurateurs could agree on.

    • JandJ says

      Ok, I’ll call you naive. If you know him in any way he most certainly does not revel in causing animals pain… quite the opposite in fact. His point was that most activists have not even visited a farm where foie gras is made and yet assume that the animals are grossly mistreated in the process. His reaction to their holier than thou attitude is more than appropriate IMHO and I believe you totally misread his intent.

      • spare_wheel says

        i was referring to his crowing about boiling lobsters alive. a simple jab with a knife makes this humane without any affect on the flavor. boiling lobsters alive is a minor but unnecessary cruelty. imo, crowing about it is worse.

  3. says

    I love Pascal, and wish him the best.
    We all love gossip, and to me, wondering and/or arguing about why he left the house of Carafe, and what his believe in animal rights is like talking about Queen vs Rolling Stone is a better rock band.
    Long live Pascal and Foie Gras!

    Thank you,
    Ellen Green aka Wiener Mama.

  4. sidemeat says

    Queen?!?
    oh heck, and I’m supposed to trust your taste for food?
    yeah, bohemian rhapsody v miss you,
    candy ass wants v genuine hunger
    THAT’S WHAT’S WRONG WITH RESTAURANTS TODAY
    horrible soundtracks and bad lighting…

      • sidemeat says

        is that a trick question?
        ‘one or the other sidemeat, cool whip or the filling
        from a ding dong?’
        depends what I’m drinking I suppose,
        (we’re not talking about that now)
        but insofar as the female voice goes I much prefer
        the meat and potatoes of someone like Marrianne Faithfull, Lucinda Williams or Nina Simone.
        I usually shove a snickers or two way down in the ice machine to remind me of Joanna Newsom…

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