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John Golden

John Golden writes about food and has a highly opinionated blog, The Golden Dish.

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Posted: January 12, 2015

Vinland introduces Guest Chef Night on Tuesdays starting in February

David Levi’s Vinland is in classic form still, delivering a menu of invention as he explores the rigors of being 100 percent local. But for the winter, he offers his restaurant on one or two nights a week to guest chefs who’ll do their own special thing.

Written by: John Golden
The interior of Vinland on Congress Street in Portland. Carl D. Walsh/Press Herald file photo

The interior of Vinland on Congress Street in Portland. Carl D. Walsh/Press Herald file photo

While the spate of new restaurant openings in Portland has taken a breather in early 2015, consider this intriguing reshuffling by the venerable Vinland, that citadel of locavorism.

Starting in February, chef and owner David Levi will be introducing a guest chef night on Tuesday evenings – a formula that resembles pop-up dinners, which have become so popular around the country. Except it won’t be held in odd places like drafty sunrooms, dirt-floor greenhouses, tented driveways or remote barns, typical of these fanciful culinary events. Rather, it will take place right in the comforts of Vinland’s Congress Street dining room.

Liz Tice and David Levi

Liz Trice and David Levi

Those chefs who have so far signed up for the series are some of the most highly revered in the city. But other participants will also include chefs who are striving to make a name for themselves. Look for the city’s sous chefs to have their moment in the sun, too.

What could be interesting is if these chefs cook completely differently from their regular regimens at their respective restaurants.

And the chefs won’t be adhering to Levi’s strict all-local ingredients formula but will have free run of his kitchen, in which lemons, olive oil and other “foreign” products find their way into Vinland’s lair.  Of course Levi will offer some direction to the guest chefs (no roadkill perhaps?) but they’ll pretty much rule the roost.

The brainchild behind the series is Levi himself, with the help of his girlfriend-partner Liz Trice (who owns Peloton Labs) and Christopher Papagni, consultant, who was formerly the executive vice president of the International Culinary Center in New York before he moved to Portland.

For the winter lineup at Vinland, there’s practically something different each night of the week. Look at the new schedule:

Monday: $29 prix fixe with many of Vinland’s experimental and new dishes being offered.

Tuesday:  guest chef night.

Wednesday:  Vinland’s cooking classes from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  This is followed by a jazz night dinner (9 p.m. to 11 p.m.) from a lighter menu that will include small plates.

Thursday through Saturday: Vinland’s regular menu cooked by Levi and his staff will be in force.

Sunday: At this writing the Vinland team is considering doing a second guest chef night on Sundays.

For more information on the series or for chefs looking to participate contact David Levi via email:



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