What does it mean to create a successful restaurant? For Greg Higgins, it's more than establishing and maintaining connections with the local farming community. It's more than artfully arranging pristine northwest ingredients on a plate. And it's more than sharing the bounty of the region with satisfied customers.
Higgins turns out
fine cuisine in support of his premise that food is community - an idea that creates respect, commitment and responsibility from farmer to chef to diner. “We're interested in nourishing and sustaining not only our customer's appetites but also the land and the quality of life we all enjoy,” says Higgins. With an agricultural region that provides unparalleled abundance and diversity - from wild salmon, mushrooms, and huckleberries to some of the finest wines in the country, Higgins is defining a cuisine that is truly rooted in the northwest.
From an early age, Higgins appreciated the quality of seasonal produce while working the vegetable fields and fruit orchards of Eden, New York. As a boy, he occasionally played hooky from school to fish or gather crayfish from local streams. He experimented at home in the kitchen with recipes from Fannie Farmer, and as a teenager, he learned the craft of artisan cheese-making during a three-year apprenticeship with a local cheese maker. These childhood experiences laid the foundation for a life devoted to quality ingredients and respect for those who grow and harvest them.
Higgins attended Hartwick College to study fine arts and worked nights at a traditional Italian restaurant, where he was introduced to classic northern Italian cooking. After college, Higgins headed for Europe to pursue his interest in cooking, landing influential training stints in Alsace and Burgundy. Higgins returned to the United States to cook in restaurants in Sun Valley, Seattle and, finally, Portland, where he received rave reviews for almost a decade as Executive Chef at The Heathman Hotel.
In 1994, Higgins opened his own restaurant, “Higgins,” with his partner Paul Mallory. Located in the heart of downtown Portland, the restaurant features flavorful, bistro-style dishes served in an elegant, comfortable surrounding. Large windows in the open kitchen allow diners to watch their meals being prepared and passersby to take in the busy scene. Polished hardwood floors, tapestries, pottery and contemporary art complete the warm, pleasant atmosphere.
Higgins' cooking focuses on Pacific Northwest ingredients and traditional French techniques, incorporating an eclectic range of influences from around the world. Presentations, textures and flavors are intense and sophisticated, yet uncontrived. His attention to classical technique is equaled by his passion for finding the freshest, highest-quality ingredients form local organic producers.
An avid organic gardener, Higgins grows his own herbs, vegetables and fruits with an eye for finding the finest heirloom varieties which he passes on to his growers. Higgins is an active proponent of sustainable food practices and is a board member of Chef's Collaborative - an organization whose principals mirror Higgins' commitment to sustainable cuisine through education, supporting local farmers and inspiring the public to choose good, clean food.
Higgins has promoted Northwest regional cuisine around the world from Shanghai, China and Fukuoka, Japan to Paris, Vienna and New York. Higgins contributed to Wild about Game by Janie Hibler, authored the Oregon section of Northwest Beautiful Cookbook by Kathy Casey and furnished recipes and information for dozens of regional and national cookbooks. Higgins has appeared on many television programs including Martha Stewart, Bur Wolf's “What's Cooking” and “Healthy Eating,” as well as PBS's “New American Cuisine.”