Gregory Gourdet, a "Top Chef" star, James Beard Foundation Award winner and lauded as one of Portland's finest chefs from his days at Departure, had been yearning to open a new restaurant in recent years.
Now, it's open, as Kann has been transformed from a pop-up eatery in a yurt in Southeast Portland to a brick-and-mortar restaurant at 548 S.E. Ash St. The new place emphasizes Haitian food married with the bounty of the Pacific Northwest.
And, another establishment that has been in the works — Sousol, a subterranean, pan-Caribbean bar located beneath Kann — will be open this fall.
Kann "is a project four-plus years in the making, serving to bring Portland's first and one of the nation's few Haitian-inspired destinations," a news release stated. The project was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Kann offers iconic Haitian dishes and spices, and the live-fire preparations are a nod to barbecue's origins in Haiti. The food is also seasonal and highlights year-round Pacific Northwest bounty, from local vegetables to fruits, meat and sustainable seafood. The entire menu is gluten-free and dairy-free, and a full vegan menu is available."
It features dishes such as Akra (crispy taro root fritters), Griyo Twice Cooked Pork (national dish of Haiti, served with fried green plantains and spicy pickled cabbage) and Peanut Creamed Greens (collards slow-cooked with tomato and peanuts, honoring the enslaved West Africans brought to Haiti by the French).
Gourdet is a first-generation Haitian-American. The name "Kann" is "cane" in Haitian Creole, and is a tribute to treasured childhood memories in Haiti when he'd listen for sugarcane vendors to come by with wheelbarrows overflowing with the freshly harvested snack.
Kann is led and run "100%" by women, BIPOC and LBGTQ+ individuals.
For more: www.kannrestaurant.com.
"A lot of people have not had Haitian food unless you've lived in Miami or Brooklyn," Gourdet told Pamplin Media Group last year. "It's a Caribbean food — a lot of seafood, very savory and soulful cuisine, a lot of marinating. You often marinate fish and meat, (along with) garlic, onion, thyme, chiles, a lot of starchy root vegetables, plantains, sweet potatoes … there is a lot of rice, and rice and bean dishes."
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