Originally hailing from Africa's Ivory Coast, Chef Fatou Ouattara is already rising in Portland's food scene, just on year after opening Akadi.Read Bio
New Season, New Seasonings - Bringing Refreshed Flavors into Every Course
1. At Hexagon, you create modern and contemporary French dishes. In your own words, define this style of cuisine.
I would define my cuisine as modern French. We tend to tap into a variety of other cultures and cuisines for inspiration and ingredients, while keeping a modern French flair foundation.
2. You've chosen to deliver your dishes in the form of a four and nine-course tasting menu. Share with us why you decided to take this approach?
We found that tasting menus are perfect for small bites. When you go out to eat, you want to try a bunch of items and tasting menus invite you to do just that.
Our menu is designed with small portions, so you don't leave feeling crazy full, but you get to try a bunch of new foods. It's more of an experience as opposed to just coming, eating and leaving. You get more involved with the meal.
3. Describe how you use ingredients, spices and/or seasonings to build a continuation of flavor in each course of your tasting menus.
When we construct a dish, we use ingredients like vegetables and proteins to base the dish off of. The spices and seasonings then come in to compliment the flavors that we choose.
For example, we might make a base using a pear and lobster and then do a seasoning that brings the two together and highlights the dish.
4. Which cooking techniques do you utilize to influence and/or elevate French flavors in your dishes?
One of my favorites is simple braising. You can pick whatever way you want to do it, but I find a classic braise is most flavorful. I like to take old school techniques and combine them with newer methods to create new textures and build on flavors.
For example, we might do a dish were it's a duo of protein, where one component is braised and the other is sous vide.
5. Explain the biggest flavor challenges you've experienced with developing tasting menus and how you've overcome them.
The main challenge is being able to stagger the flavor. You can eat a dish and it can taste amazing, but if the dish that follows on the tasting menu has more subtle flavors or kills you palate with richness, it disrupts the entire experience. The flavors need to evolve, and become stronger, as you go.
Another challenge is trying to develop menu items based on the seasonality of the vegetables we choose. One week we can use an ingredient and it'll be amazing then the next week, it might not be.
6. How do you transistion your tasting menus to reflect seasonality? For example, fall/winter vs. spring/summer.
Our menus change seasonally. So for fall and winter, our dishes are mainly based off of preserved ingredienets, comfort foods and warming dishes. We also use fruits and vegetables that keep over the cold weather.
Once spring and summer hit, we have fresh, light flavors while using the ingredients available. We tend to do less cooking of ingredients, keeping them raw to maximize on their freshness.
7. Which new flavors and ingredients can we expect to see making their way to the center-of-the-plate this spring?
I'm a big fan of peas so they'll definitely be used when spring comes around. In the summertime, mushrooms are my favorite ingredient, they add so much flavor to dishes so you'll be seeing them make an appearance.