Culinary Feature of the Month – Meet Chef Parsons at El Gaucho Portland
We are excited to feature the talented people behind the scenes – those who create and prepare the tasty treats that we all get to enjoy in our restaurants. Each month we will be introducing you to the gifted and passionate individuals who make up our culinary team. Bon Appétit!
“I knew I wanted to work in the kitchen right after college. I realized I couldn’t sit behind a desk for a living and I enjoyed the controlled chaos of working in the restaurant business…I can’t imagine doing anything else,” explains Alex.
Born and raised just outside of the Washington, DC area, Alex has worked in the restaurant business since he was 18. He started as a dishwasher and worked his way up to a lead line cook in various restaurants. Living on the east coast for most of his life, his adventurous spirit was calling him west, and he landed in Oregon. He continued to work in various kitchens in the Portland area while experimenting with a career in Architectural Design and studying at Portland Community College. Although he is a talented designer, his passion was at the grill. He joined El Gaucho Portland as a line cook shortly after it opened, and moved to Sous Chef in 18 months. After a brief leave of absence from El Gaucho, he spent time as Executive Chef at Ruth’s Chris, and other area restaurants including, Meriwether, Olea, and Southpark. Shortly after returning to Gaucho, he became its Executive Chef.
Alex recently remarried his wife, and they have a 10-year-old son together, a “chef in the making.” Since both Alex and his wife are in the restaurant industry, cooking at home is all about keeping it simple: In the summer its barbequing, and a go-to favorite meal is roasted chicken with pan sauce, Spanish rice, and steamed broccoli. Things you will always find in Alex’s pantry are: Stumptown coffee, roasted salted peanuts, fresh baked bread from New Seasons or Grand Central, Dark Chocolate, and Cheese-It Crackers. When he goes out to eat, Alex prefers Pho.
His family also includes two cats named Garfield and Socks (both names are completely fitting, he says), and a rescue dog named Sugar, “probably an Australian Shepard, but we’ll never know” who is albino, completely deaf, and missing one eye.
When he’s not working, Alex loves being outdoors, and enjoys camping, hiking, fishing, and experimenting with photography. His favorite places to really unwind are Southern Utah, Canyon Lands, and Yellowstone National Park.
Alex is known to be a hard worker and a good father. He is also generous with his time – every Thanksgiving, on his day off, Alex and his son cook a full turkey dinner for a local women’s shelter, helping feed 150 women and children.
“My favorite thing about working at El Gaucho is working with a great kitchen staff. We basically have a family culture here and we all help each other out to reach a common goal. My job has enabled me to expand my food, wine, and liquor knowledge, and I also try to learn something new every day,” he explains.
You can enjoy that new found expanded knowledge and passion for the grill by joining Alex and team every night at El Gaucho Portland.