Foodies Favorite Finds: Swift and Union’s Chef Greg Newman
Monday, April 13, 2015
Swift and Union, a forthcoming neighborhood restaurant by the owners of Tabor Tavern, has hired industry veteran Greg Newman as chef. Newman has worked in a variety of capacities in the city’s best restaurants for nearly 20 years. Newman’s resume is long, having done stints at Ripe, Assaggio, Laslow’s, Mingo and most recently, Pok Pok. In addition, Newman, a certified sommelier, worked for four years as Genoa’s general manager and wine director.
Chef Newman, 37, was born and raised in a suburb of Los Angeles. In many ways, Greg was a quintessential SoCal kid, spending evenings and weekends surfing at the beach. Unlike most of his peers, Greg remembers becoming “enthralled with food” at around eight years old, when his Mexican grandmother taught him to make her native specialties like guacamole, salsa and “arroz Mexicano” (Mexican rice).
By his late teens, Greg started taking cooking seriously. In 1997, he made the decision to become a chef but knew that in order to do so, he’d “need to have a 360 degree understanding of the industry.” Later that year, he moved to Portland where “ingredients are fresh, people are nice and girls drink beer.”
Greg started on the ground floor as dishwasher at Assaggio before being promoted to busser and eventually a pantry station position. From there, he made the leap to the kitchen of Brasserie Montmartre where he cooked with chef Pascal Sauton, whom he later followed to the kitchen at the Waverly Country Club.
In 2001, chef Cathy Whims hired him at Genoa and gave Greg his “real start.” After Whim’s departure, he continued to work under chef Jerry Huisinga, from whom Greg learned the importance of technique and to whom he attributes his love of Italian cuisine.
In the summer of 2002, Greg took a side gig at the infamous supper club Ripe alongside Naomi Pomeroy and Tommy Habetz, and that year, became a certified sommelier.
In 2005, Greg took a detour to become a wine rep for Mt. Hood Beverage, but he missed the energy and adrenaline of the kitchen. In 2009, Greg reunited with chef Sauton in the kitchen of his French-inspired bistro, Carafe. In 2011, he worked in the kitchen of Mingo in Beaverton.
In 2013, Greg joined friend and fellow chef J.B. Tranholm in the kitchen at Andy Ricker’s acclaimed Pok Pok. Greg attributes his understanding of kitchen systems to JB and without Andy, “I likely would have never even attempted Thai food or use of Thai ingredients.”
As chef for Swift and Union, “my objective is to build on what makes Zig and Kristen’s first place, Tabor Tavern, so successful. I have no desire to reinvent the wheel but will instead integrate my influences – simple, fresh and seasonal.”
Speaking of keeping it simple Chef Greg says: “I am a huge fan of the Beaverton Sub Station, a sandwich shop in the heart of downtown Beaverton that has been there since 1981. Chuck Wilson is the working owner and is a super rad dude. He’s also a hardcore Chicago Cubs fan – you’ll never catch him without his Cubs baseball cap on. Like Chuck, the place itself is unpretentious. His sandwiches are simple and of killer quality. I live in Portland, but will go out of my way to go there. Everything on the menu is fantastic, but I typically get the Clancy, which has roast beef, turkey or ham (I like roast beef), avocado, provolone cheese, cheddar cheese, tomato, green pepper, onion, lettuce, mayo & spices. The Smitty is also great – it’s got turkey, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, mayo and spices. Portlanders don’t really know about this place, but should they should.”
Beaverton Sub Station, 12448 SW Broadway, Beaverton, 503-641-7827.
Swift and Union, 8103 N. Denver, Portland. Scheduled to open later this spring.
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