Matt Lightner named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chefs” for 2010
Castagna has been getting rave reviews since Matt joined the restaurant in 2009. Under his leadership, many dishes have been added to the menu that flirt with new concepts for the Portland restaurants.
Lightner worked his way through the Heathman Restaurant & Bar, Portland, Oregon; L’Auberge Del Mar, Del Mar, California; Mugaritz, Errenteria, Spain; and Noma, in Copenhagen. Castagna is his first position as an executive chef. In early 2010 he was a semi-finalist in the “Rising Star Chef” category by the James Beard Foundation.
Restaurant Hospitality magazine named him “One of Ten to Watch in 2010” –
Lightner, fresh from an extensive immersion in Spanish cuisine and culture — touring Andalucian olive presses, Iberian pig farms and Basque cheese caves; working at Mugaritz for 18 months; and learning at the feet of Ferran Adria and other masters — took the helm at Castagna a few months ago with the express understanding that he would continue to follow the locavore philosophy. His plan is to up the ante a little, taking all that Pacific Northwest bounty and making it even more interesting with the tecnhniques he’s picked up working in Europe and the U.S. West Coast.
“Working at one of the best restaurants in the world has elevated my connection to food and (taught me) how to celebrate one single ingredient to allow for its true flavor to emerge,” he added.
This Best New Chef award has been given to three other Portland chefs: Scott Dolich of Park Kitchen in 2004, Gabe Rucker of Le Pigeon in 2007, and Naomi Pomeroy of Beast in 2009.
According to Castagna owner Monique Siu “When I was searching for a new executive chef, Matt stood apart from the other chefs and I had to seriously think about giving him the creative room he needed to succeed. The reaction was positive from the beginning and I am excited he will be recognized for his talent and innovative use of ingredients.”
If you haven’t been to Castagna recently, you’d better get in while you still can.