EUGENE, Ore. — Stephanie Pearl Kimmel just celebrated a major milestone in her career: her 40th year as a chef. She’s spent 14 of those years as owner and chef of Marche, a restaurant that touts itself as “celebrating life and the bountiful Pacific Northwest with locally grown and gathered food.”
“Most people have no idea how lucky we are,” Kimmel said, referencing the year-round supply of local produce. “I think it really enriches your life to follow the seasons with your food.”
At Marche, Kimmel tries to do just that, getting inspiration for her menu from local produce.
“The great food we associate with a season is really driven by those ingredients. In spring, it’s light and green; summer, it’s colorful and lots of variety; fall, it gets a little golden, darker, richer and sustaining.”
She admits to having a favorite that she waits for all year long, though: “Tomatoes, because we’re very strict about only using local tomatoes in season. [They’re] best when they’re vine-ripened, picked and eating immediately, so we really celebrate tomatoes.”
The restaurant celebrates other flavors in sometimes unconventional ways. A watermelon soda, for example, is made up of juice from local watermelons, mixed with soda water.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Kimmel. “We keep it interesting.”