Jenn Louis could be described as “your favorite chef’s favorite chef.” Though she may not have the public profile or as many television appearances under her belt as some of her compatriots on this list, Jenn has built a strong reputation for creating irreverent dishes that reflect her free-spirited approach to cooking and life.
A graduate of Pitzer College in Claremont, California, Jenn traveled throughout Europe and the Americas after matriculating, and her travels led her to Southern Israel where she worked in a dairy kibbutz. Upon returning to the United States, Jenn took a job as a cook at an Outward Bound base camp in North Carolina, and it was here that she uncovered her desire to make cooking her life’s work. Jenn enrolled in the Western Culinary Institute of Portland and, upon completing her formal education, began working as a line cook at Portland’s famous Wildwood restaurant.
Eventually, Jenn opened two restaurants of her own: Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern, and the success of both landed her profiles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Food & Wine magazine (where she was named one of their “Best New Chefs” in 2012), and Bon Appetit magazine. Jenn also parlayed her success into an appearance on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” and she was a semifinalist for James Beard Foundation awards in 2010 and 2011 for “Best Chef: Northwest.”
Specialties & Resources
At Sunshine Tavern, Jenn’s latest endeavor, the focus is on simple dishes created with unexpected ingredients, and the result is a culinary experience that sets itself apart from that of many other chefs on this list. Offerings include duck egg sandwich with pimento cheese and spicy pickle; jambon beurre royale with swiss, giardiniera and Dijon; Cuban sandwich with ham, swiss and spicy pickle; perciatelli with tomato and garlic toast; corn dog with cabbage slaw, giardiniera and brown mustard; and baked eggs with tomato and garlic toast.
At Lincoln, the menu is a bit more expansive, drawing on Jenn’s vast culinary talents. Menu items include octopus a la plancha with lentils and giardiniera, cornmeal onion rings with pimenton aioli; grilled dates and marcona almonds with lime and sea salt; baked hen eggs with cream, castelvetrano olives and breadcrumbs; lumache pasta with asparagus butter, preserved lemon and oregano; bucatini with herb pesto, lardo and almonds; spaccatelli with smoked tallow, speck and sherry; semolina cavatelli with chicken ragu, prosciutto and celery; Oregon albacore with green beans, peaches, marcona almonds and tarragon; roasted chicken with shoestring potatoes and little gem romaine; and zucchini, green beans and beets with tarbais beans and hazelnut.