Justin Woodward of Castagna in Portland, Ore.
Justin Woodward of Castagna in Portland, Ore.

Hometown: San Diego, California
Occupation: Executive chef, Castagna Restaurant, Café Castagna
Years lived in Portland: 5
Awards/Accolades: Nominee, Best Chef: Northwest, James Beard Foundation (2015)
Nominee, People’s Best New Chef: Northwest & Pacific, Food & Wine (2015)
Semifinalist, Rising Star Chef of the Year, James Beard Foundation (2013)

Go to Chef Woodward’s shortlist

What do you love best about Portland’s food scene?

The products are amazing. The seasonal changes here are great. Also the camaraderie among chefs.

If you had to choose one personal favorite dish from Castagna, what would it be and why?

Right now we are serving smoked salmon with a roasted carrot and a carrot/satsuma butter sauce. The flavors are super tight.

What other cuisines do you love to eat or cook, and where do you like to go in Portland for them?

I love Indian, though I have not found any in Portland I love. Thai is great, too. Langbaan is awesome.

Name the top restaurants that you think every visitor in Portland should try. 

Angel Food & Fun, Apizza Scholls, Kachka.

What’s your favorite neighborhood to dine out at?

Southeast. There is just so much to choose from.

Imagine you had a limitless appetite and describe your perfect dining out day.

Breakfast at Broder; get the aquavit bloody mary. Lunch at Angel Food and Fun. Dinner at Apizza Scholls. Drinks after at Angel Face.

Since it’s Portland, we have to ask: what’s your favorite food truck?

Pyro Pizza.

What dish is your guilty pleasure, and where do you go to get it?

Burgers at Slow Bar.

Any specific watering holes you like to frequent?

Multnomah Whiskey Library is pretty cool.

What’s one dish in Portland that blew you away and left you wishing you came up with the recipe yourself?

Sour pork sausage at Chiang Mai.

Are there any foods native to Portland or Oregon that visitors should seek out?

The hazelnuts are great.

Chef Woodward’s Shortlist:

Castagna Restaurant and Café Castagna, 1752 SE Hawthorne Boulevard (Hosford-Abernethy); Pacific Northwest, dinner only Wednesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Tuesday (restaurant); dinner Tuesday-Sunday and brunch Sunday, closed Monday (café).

Langbaan, 6 SE 28th Avenue (Kerns); Thai, dinner only Thursday-Sunday, closed Monday-Wednesday.

Angel Food & Fun, 5135 NE 60th Avenue (Cully); Mexican, lunch and dinner daily.

Apizza Scholls, 4741 SE Hawthorne Boulevard (Richmond); pizza, lunch Saturday-Sunday, dinner daily.

Kachka, 720 SE Grand Avenue (Buckman); Russian, dinner only daily.

Broder, 2508 SE Clinton Street (Hosford-Abernethy); Swedish, brunch only daily.
Second location: 2240 North Interstate Avenue (Eliot); brunch daily, dinner Wednesday-Saturday.

Angel Face, 14 NE 28th Avenue (Kerns); bar, open daily.

Pyro Pizza, SE 12th Avenue and SE Hawthorne Boulevard (Hosford-Abernethy); pizza, lunch Wednesday-Sunday, dinner daily, late night Friday-Saturday.

Slow Bar, 533 SE Grand Avenue (Buckman); bar, lunch and dinner daily.

Multnomah Whiskey Library, 1124 SW Alder Street (Downtown); bar, open Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday.

Chiang Mai, 3145 SE Hawthorne Boulevard (Richmond); Thai, lunch Monday-Friday, dinner daily.

About the Chef: Since taking the helm of Castagna‘s kitchen in 2011, Chef Justin Woodward has earned national acclaim for his efforts in his first executive chef post. He first joined Castagna as its sous chef, and over the past four years, he’s truly made the restaurant’s seasonal and ever-changing menu his own.

Raised in San Diego, Woodward had stints in Europe and on the East Coast prior to moving to Portland. He worked for Chef Alex Stupak at New York’s acclaimed WD-50 and staged at the world-renowned Noma in Copenhagen and Mugaritz in San Sebastián, Spain. Woodward credits his family for his passion for cooking and food. Early childhood memories include helping his father in the garden, observing his grandmother roasting meatballs in olive oil, and watching his grandfather gorge on cheese. From them, Woodward also learned the importance of appreciating the art of cooking and enjoying the company during a meal. Looking forward, Woodward says he hopes to keep pushing his creative boundaries and inspiring his cooks to be greater and stronger.