Kurt Huffman got his first taste of the restaurant industry as a 10-year-old in a school cooking class in New Zealand. Four years later, he was working as a dishwasher and grill cook at Fat City Café in Multnomah Village. He went on to study at UC Berkeley, but at 25 he found himself in Scotland, balancing rugby and a good amount of beer drinking while pursuing a master’s degree in law from the University of Glasgow. He had beer in mind when a French friend asked him to collaborate on a business in Lyon, France. They settled on a brewery, “because it’s such an obvious thing to do at 25,” which turned into a gastropub called Ninkasi. By the time Kurt left France, there were five locations.
He returned to his hometown of Portland and founded ChefStable in 2008. It began with Chef Andy Ricker who had just started Pok Pok in 2006 and was looking to open another restaurant. Huffman and Ricker teamed up and opened Ping. After that, recommendations for partnerships kept coming in and Kurt built his team to be able to design, build, and operate restaurants. Since 2008, Kurt and his team at ChefStable have opened more than 40 restaurants and he personally has taken more trips to Portland Nursery than anyone could count. He is a firm believer in the power of partnering with the right people and can’t shake the feeling that every space should have more plants.
Favorite restaurant: St. John’s (London, England)
Least favorite fruit: Banana
Least favorite nut: Cashew