Scott Snyder, the chef/owner of Levant, a new local hot spot, melds classic and modern French culinary techniques with Middle Eastern ingredients. His restaurant, which had been open for 10 weeks at the time of this writing, is winning accolades for its healthy, creative cuisine. When brainstorming the concept for Levant, Snyder discovered that no one in Portland was serving cuisine with the flavor profile used by the Sephardim and Mizrahim ( Jews from Arab states). “I wanted to do something that had a personal meaning to me and my family,” he explains. “My mother’s family moved to Palestine in 1860; her father grew up there as a boy, and she lived there as a child.”
The chef has expanded his focus to include all of the foods introduced by the Ottoman Empire as well as North African and Mediterranean cuisine. His menu, which changes almost daily, features staples like seafood, duck and lamb seasoned with spices and olive oil. “I’m amazed at how little butter we use,” he says. “We use very high-quality Israeli and Lebanese olive oil.” He sources many of his spices from Barbur World Foods, the largest Middle Eastern food importer in the Northwest.
Although Levant is not kosher, the restaurant serves no pork. “It’s not used in the region, so we don’t need to cook it,” explains Snyder. “And it has kind of
turned into something where people are happy we don’t. We have a lot of fun and really enjoy the challenge of having to find ways to produce products that people would normally do with pork.”
The restaurant offers house-made lamb bacon and duck sausages.On Sunday, Sept. 22 at 7 pm, Snyder will team up with Zahav’s Michael Solomonov for a Feast Portland Dinner Series at Levant. The two chefs, with their modern Israeli conceptions, are sure to find a lot in common; Snyder’s sous-chef previously worked under Solomonov. “We’re very excited about it. I’m sure there will be lamb on the menu,” says Snyder.
Dubbed “the ultimate food festival” by Bon appétit editor-in-chief adam rapoport, Feast Portland made a stunning debut last year.
Here are some fun foodie facts about the 2012 event:
• There were almost 9,000 attendees.
•96 local and national chefs, 43 wineries and 21 breweries were featured
•Stumptown Coffee roasters went through 700 pounds of coffee beans.
•Charm City Cakes founder Duff Foldman wowed attendees with an 8-foot cake.
•USA Pears handed out 1,200 pounds of pears at its booth in Director Park.
• The event raised $46,000 for Share Our Strength and Partners for a hunger-Free Oregon.
This year’s Feast Portland (Sept. 19-22) promises to be even more exciting:
• A fascinating series of food-related lectures sponsored by Whole Foods will be held at the Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell auditorium.
• The dinner series, which will take place at various local restaurants, will feature inspired collaborations between chefs such as Levant’s Scott Snyder and Zahav’s Michael Solomonov.
• A brand-new brunch series has been added to the schedule.
• Tasting panels will highlight wines, beers and cocoa.
• Courses at Le Cordon Bleu will include “Roast Your Own Coffee” and “Tea Blending” classes.
For detailed event information and tickets, visit feastportland.com.
Levant | 2448 East Burnside | 503-954-2322 | levantpdx.com