Executive Chef, Christian Mikkelsen
Christian Mikkelsen grew up in the Wenatchee Valley on an apple and cherry orchard. His early days working in the orchards and cooking for his family started him down the culinary path. He moved to Portland, Oregon in 2005 to attend Oregon Culinary Institute. After graduating in 2007, he migrated to Bend where he worked for his first great chef and mentor, Ramsey Hamdan, who introduced him to Lebanese food and culture.
“My passion for cooking stems from watching my mom make old school American meals nearly every night and sitting down and eating as a family. One reason I really got into cooking is you're constantly learning and getting better and there are always new challenges to overcome and grow from. Also growing up on the orchards helped instill a hard-work ethic that is essential to making it in this career.”
The travel bug took hold and an opportunity arose to work in New Zealand. He worked at Riverstone Kitchen, a family run restaurant on a dairy farm, where they had ample gardens and a cherry orchard on the property. It was his first cooking experience where picking herbs and vegetables was an everyday occurrence and the menu was completely dictated by the produce available.
Mikkelsen spent 6 months touring Australia, then ventured through Central and South America and briefly visited Ireland, Scotland and Spain. Flavors and techniques from Mikkelsen’s travels have greatly influenced his cooking style. But once again, the mountains of Oregon were calling his name and he returned to Bend to work for Chef Ramsey. Leading the kitchen at his restaurant Joolz greatly expanded his Mediterranean and North African cooking skills. He spent a year as Sous Chef at Sleeping Lady before returning to Portland to work for Celeb Chef and cookbook author Jenn Louis. Mikkelsen’s first opportunity to be an Executive Chef came when he opened Vagabond, a globally inspired gastropub in North Portland.
He enjoys the outdoors and all that the Great Pacific Northwest has to offer, is always looking to improve his green thumb in the garden, and is amped-up to play hockey in his hometown, once again.