The Community Chef program celebrates the diverse food traditions in Outer South East Portland by supporting local women food leaders. Through cooking demonstration, workshops, and communal meals, Community Chefs build a stronger Portland by sharing cultural traditions and recipes that strengthen our collective knowledge and individual health. Currently, Community Chefs herald from El Salvador, Mexico, Philippines, Bhutan and Nepal, Vietnam, Jamaica, and China.
Meet The Community Chefs!
Dega hails from Bhutan and lived in Nepal for many years. She brings together both cuisines seamlessly. There are delicate flavors in each of her dishes, each unique but many created with the same simple ingredients. She moves with quiet grace throughout the kitchen, stopping by at each person to give hands on instruction for each element of the meal. Often accompanying this Community Chef to workshops is her boisterous extended family. They playfully provide instructions, share common Nepalese phrases, and erupt into giggles throughout the night.
Being in the kitchen with Van is like cooking with your best friend. Her warm smile and the pride she takes in making food that others enjoy eating immediately welcomes you in. Van learned to cooking alongside her mother first in Saigon and later in their home in Portland. One of the earliest dishes Van remembers making is Pho and to this day, soups or “Love in a bowl” remain one of her favorite foods to prepare. These days Van enjoys transforming her traditional meat dishes into vegan ones without compromising the taste. “I truly believe that food is medicine and I like showing people healthy food can both be delicious and good for you! “-Van
With an ever present smile and stories of growing up in the Philippines coming a mile-a-minute, Josselyn shares more than just her recipes during workshops. While taking apart a Jackfruit in under 3 minutes, she will show you how to use a knife properly, share five delicious recipes that use mung beans and tell you about the time she hosted a pig roast – solo – at the age of eleven. Jocelyn has been hosting energetic workshops and farmers market demonstrations as a Community Chef for over two years.
Blanca’s El Salvadorian fare is not to be missed; her pupusas stuffed with Pacific Northwest veggies create a new twist. She leads her workshop around a central demonstration table starting with a rapid fire example then breaking down the step-by-step process to make these delights. Around the table she shares stories of cooking with her mother, her journey from El Salvador to Oregon and what foods she is cooking with currently.
From the mouthwatering spice of peppers and chilies that are staples in her Oaxaca cuisine, to the fire of conversation, there is a tangible heat in the kitchen when Paula hosts a Community Chef workshop. She is a community leader, friend, mother and an advocate for using food as medicine. When she is not working with Zenger, she is working with her children’s school to provide healthier food options, and even speaking directly with the Mayor about her community.
Jeniffer Kirton Taylor
Bio coming soon!
Gloria Yan-Lim is a Certified Health Coach and loving mother of two. She decided to become a health coach to fulfill her passion of working with busy, stressful women to develop strategies to increase energy, reduce with and improve skin condition so the clients will have more productive lifestyle , regain their self-confidence and feel great. Gloria leads workshops on nutrition and offers individual health and nutrition coaching. Gloria is originally from China.
Roxana joins the Community Chef team from El Salvador bringing a contagious laughter that infuses all her dishes including flavorful pasteles and rich bowl of calabaza dulce.
Elsa San Juan
Elsa has long used her location and seasonality in her food. Growing up in Hidalgo, Mexico using what was fresh and seasonal was a way of life. Many options and varieties of produce have changed since her move to Oregon (Elsa has long since mastered kale), yet her sopes and tamales still have the taste of home. Part chef, part motivational speaker, she confidently tells us to not be afraid; cook with all the love you can and your food will taste delicious.