This week on Chef’s Story, tune in as Dorothy Cann Hamilton finds that it’s not the awards or the notoriety that fuels the fire for Chef/Restaurateur Cathy Whims. It’s the quest to offer historically-based, authentic dishes that celebrate a sense of place and a local producer’s passion that keep the beloved Portland, Oregon culinary treasure at the stove. She and her partner, David West, opened Nostrana in 2005 and quickly earned The Oregonian’s coveted designation as Best Restaurant of the Year. Nostrana is an Italian road-house in Southeast Portland serving classical and inventive seasonal dishes reflective of Cathy’s close, personal relationships with Northwest farmers.
Prior to establishing Nostrana as well as Oven and Shaker, Cathy’s take on a pizza-serving urban saloon, she was part of the kitchen and eventually co-owner of Portland’s pioneering prix-fixe Italian restaurant, Genoa. Cathy attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she relays to Dorothy that she majored in Latin. In the course of her professional career, Cathy has studied with Marcella and Victor Hazan at their home in Venice, and Madeleine Kamman at the highly respected School for American Chefs. Whims has cooked with Giancinto Albarello at Genoa and in his own kitchen at the Antica Torre Trattoria in Barbaresco, and with Marco Forneris at Osteria La Libera in Alba, both renowned restaurants of the Langhe. A never-ending curiosity and quest for complexity of flavors found only in simple cooking takes Whims often to Italy where she continues to make new friendships and enjoy the roots of Italian cooking.
“I realized that the food I was eating in Italy was much more restrained and much more ingredient driven and less technique and complexity driven.” [32:10]
—Cathy Whims on Chef’s Story