Inside Access to Portland’s Top Chefs

Don’t have a ticket to one of Portland’s most unique dining events this summer? Fear not: Some of the city’s top chefs have a spot reserved for you in their outdoor kitchens. Chef in My Garden — the signature event series of Growing Gardens, a nonprofit partner of Levé — is nearly sold out, with only a handful of tickets left for one of the nine dinners scheduled to take place during July and August. The dinners bring the farm-to-table movement to life, with each dinner featuring local ingredients and set in a local garden. Chefs from various Portland restaurants will craft the meals, and one dinner, with Cathy Whims of Nostrana, will actually take place in her own garden.

While tickets for this exclusive event were snapped up quickly, Growing Gardens is in need of some vibrant volunteers who will get firsthand access to Portland’s top chefs.


“This is our third year taking part in the event, and we’re always excited to support [Growing Gardens],” says Jason French, owner and chef at Ned Ludd. French says Growing Gardens’ support of local farming and its educational gardening programs for children are partially why he has lent his talents to the series.

“It’s a nice ode to the future,” he says.

French’s dinner on July 7 kicks off the series, and will be served in the historic gardens of Judy Dauble. While a menu has not been set, French says to expect Carman Ranch beef on the table.

“They never tell me what the menu is until the Friday before the Sunday dinner,” says Hollie Allen, development director at Growing Gardens. “Even the guests don’t know what they’re eating until they get there.”

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And yes — volunteers will get a taste of the chefs’ creations.

“That’s definitely part of it,” French says.

Volunteers with prior food serving experience and (ideally) a current food handler’s card are needed for the duration of the event, from set up to tear down. The shift is about eight to nine hours long and will feature teams of six to eight servers for each dinner. If you’re interested in volunteering, send an email to Nancy Wong at Volunteers are especially needed July 14, August 11 and August 25, but also on July 21, July 28, and August 18.

Find out more about Growing Gardens and its partnership with Levé.