Chef Naomi Pomeroy of Beast in Portland on Motherhood + Running a Restaurant

naomi headshot - alicia roseOn the heels of highlighting the Top 10 Mom-Owned Restaurants in America, we’re pleased to bring you a series of interviews with the talented women on the list. First up is Naomi Pomeroy, the chef-owner of Beast. Beast opened in 2007 and is one of Portland’s most acclaimed restaurants. Not surprisingly, chef Pomeroy took home a well-deserved 2014 James Beard Award for Best Chef. She is mom to daughter, August, who is 13, and, two years ago, she joyfully acquired two step kids, 8 and 6. 

Which came first for you — motherhood or owning a restaurant?

I had August before I opened my first restaurant, but I had already started catering at that point, which can be similarly stressful. I never really had to choose.

Did you have any role models who inspired you to pursue both parenthood and culinary entrepreneurship?

I remember hearing about Alice Waters raising her daughter, Fanny, around the kitchen at Chez Panisse. I don’t necessarily think that was at the forefront of my thinking. Nowadays, as far as a current role model goes, Suzanne Goin of Lucques and AOC is a huge role model. She and her husband are both in the food industry and have three relatively young children. They’re always doing charity events, and I have no idea how they find the time to balance all that they do!

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in attempting to balance family life and owning a restaurant?

I don’t know, but my daughter laughed when she heard that question asked! It was hard for me when August first started going to school, specifically when she was about 5 or 6. She started needing me a little bit more at that time, which coincided with the opening of my first independent project, so the timing was the most difficult part of it all. When your kids are in school, their off-times are your busiest times, so, occasionally, it’s hard to find the time to spend together. That’s specifically why I haven’t worked brunch on Sundays for a long while now, and I’ve established certain times for us to be together.

Honestly, I was blessed with having the right kind of kid. She has a great temperament and is happy wherever she is, so it was much easier for me to get the help I needed when it was needed. I think that if I had a different kid who was more demanding, it would have been much more challenging for me.

Obviously, as all moms do, I’m sure you’ve experienced guilt and felt pulled in two directions. How did you handle those moments? Continue Reading

10 Things You Need to Know About Top Chef Seattle Episode 4

Tom chuckles at CJ’s plan to undermine John Tesar at every turn.

Full disclosure: Top Chef Seattle is driving me a little bit batty this season. I don’t feel as though I’m getting to know several of the contestants — and I know some others too well. We’re barely seeing Bart, Brooke, Eliza, or Chrissy. This episode featured a lot of two cheftestants who could have gone home but didn’t. Given this disconnect, I wish they’d lower the field to 10 from the get-go so that we could really get to know competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox and on to the pertinent points. 

1. On last week’s episode, the talented Kuniko went home for undersalting a batch of potatoes. They were more like scalloped potatoes, so it’s not something you can adjust after it’s baked. While Josie of the raw turkey should have gone home, she had immunity, so they sent Kuniko packing. But — rejoice! She is back in Last Chance Kitchen. I’m pulling for you, Kuniko!

Try as they may, the Canlis cannot stop staring at Hugh Acheson’s commanding brow.

2. His fellow cheftestants believe that John Tesar is living up to his reputation as Dallas’s (and now Top Chef’s) most hated chef. He’s got an ego and a lot of opinions as a chef of his age and experience might have, but I think they need to be less sensitive to what he says in the break room. Jeez.

3. Speaking of hating John, in addition to Josh not being a fan, from almost the first frame of last night’s show, CJ makes it clear that he’s gunning for John.

4. His gun must have jammed as John Tesar, and not CJ, walked away with the QFC win — and immunity.

5. Naomi Pomeroy from Beast likes her red meat slightly more well done than you might think.

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