change in the lineup at leftbank cafe

At the heart of Leftbank is Leftbank Café. Every Leftbank visitor, no matter what brings them here, walks into the café first.  Even on days when I pack a lunch, the smell of the kitchen in the morning warms the building, wakes me up and draws me in.  Whether we eat there regularly or not, all of us are fed by the café in one way or another.

Adam, café chef for the last year, first caught my attention with his crazy-good soups. I blogged about them here last November.  I learned last week that Adam’s talents have not gone unnoticed by Leftbank’s café partner Bon Appetit, and that he’ll spend his last day at Leftbank tomorrow.  He’ll step up to run the law school kitchen at Lewis and Clark College.  NO!  WAIT!  MY SOUPS…  Don’t panic.  Leah’s still here.  And Jacey is stepping in, clearly up to the task.  The change in the lineup prompted me to sit down with the lovely people working at Leftbank’s center.  Thought you might also like to get to know them as Adam’s on his way out, Jacey’s on her way in, and Leah holds the line.  Below is some of what I learned.

Jacey comes to us after a year spent cooking for 800 students at Lewis and Clark College. She described soup pots there big enough to climb inside, which generated creepy images of fairy tale giants and also gave me hope that she’ll continue the trend of wicked good soups at Leftbank.  In 2005, Jacey completed a 3 month internship cooking in Barcelona.  When I asked what kind of cooking she loves, she talked about how Barcelona finds its way into everything, how she loves rustic foods, and how fresh, seasonal foods are always an inspiration.   Jacey’s looking forward to settling in at Leftbank and getting in some good reading this summer.  What’s on her list?  “I like classical stuff, biographies…  Last summer was the summer of Virginia Woolf.”   Jacey’s husband also cooks for a living, so I had to ask: do 2 chefs get home from work sometimes and share a frozen dinner?  “Yes.”  Yes!  I feel so much better about myself now.  Thanks for that, and welcome, Jacey!

Adam’s cooking got the Leftbank Café off the ground. Before coming here Adam spent time cooking at Blue Hour, The Black Rabbit, and Higgins, among others.  Though Adam has always wanted to be a chef, he first spent time driving big rigs and a City bus for San Diego.  How’s that for multi-facted? Onions are the single ingredient he would choose never to be without, saying that he uses them in every savory thing he prepares.  And I couldn’t resist asking him the same question about cooking at home that I posed to Jacey.  Turns out, not only does Adam cook “most of the time” at home, but he says he shops every single day.  Farewell and thank you for the year, Adam!

Everyone who frequents Leftbank Café probably knows Leah already.  Leah probably knows them.  If Leftbank Café were a band, Leah would be the front man.  And that’s maybe in keeping with her nature as a performer.  Before joining us 3 months ago, Leah worked at Multnomah Arts Center teaching dance, and she’s still dancing.  June 25th-27th you can catch Leah with 2 collaborators in the original piece, “Tinnitus.”  (Check bulletin boards around the building and the café counter for details.)  When I asked further about her background, Leah gave it up that her degree is in Art History with minors in French and Holistic Health.  Her primary interest is in the convergence of creativity and holistic health, and she plans to go back for a Masters degree in Nutrition when the time is right.  These days she loves the mix of Leftbank regulars and new people coming in.  She says Leftbank people feel like her co-workers, and that Leftbank’s mix of creative people is a support system that you wouldn’t find in other places. She says the space at Leftbank feeds her, which is great since we count on her to feed us.

Stop by on Tuesday to bid Adam farewell.  And the next time you belly up to the bar for lunch or coffee, you might ask Jacey what she’s reading.  Oh, and ask Leah how her parents chose her name.  Good story there.


Just a reminder that the Leftbank Cafe will be open this Thursday, 12/10 until 8pm.  We will have Happy Hour from 2-8pm with some wonderfully delicious, piping hot soups together with palate tingling local beers and regional wines.  Check out this week’s Happy Hour Menu.

Stop by and see us.  You’ll be happy you did.

Wanna get happy?

I wanted to share some good news with my fellow Leftbankers:

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week (December 2nd, 3rd and 4th) the Leftbank Cafe will be open all day until 8pm with HAPPY HOUR from 5 – 8pm – so come down and join us for some happiness!

We will have an assortment of beer (and Upright, of course) and local wines – with pairing suggestions to go with our wonderful soups.  There will also be a very tasty charcuterie plate that can be paired with just about anything.

And, of course, being as this is happy hour – the prices will make you happy too.

this soup is hot

I’ve been a brown bag girl for more than a decade.  Lucky enough to have a partner with mad skills in the kitchen, for years I’ve had gourmet leftovers every day at lunch.  And for years coworkers have jealously eyed my lunch while sitting across the table – peanut butter sandwiches in hand.

The lunch tables have turned.  more