Kann Takes Home The 2023 James Beard Best New Restaurant Award

Last night in Chicago, the James Beard Awards announced the winners for what it regards as this year's noteworthy restaurants and chefs, and Portland's Kann took home the title of Best New Restaurant. Since its inception, Gregory Gourdet's restaurant has attracted the attention of major publications and food critics. Less than two months after opening, the restaurant found itself on the New York Times' "50 places in America we're most excited about right now" list. Gourdet's Haitian concept also claimed Esquire magazine's best new restaurant in America, pushing Kann to become one of the most awarded restaurants in Portland.

Kann offers a sustainably-sourced menu of Haitian-inspired dishes and inventive drinks. The concept behind the restaurant is a nod to Gourdet's own upbringing while making use of Oregon's seasonal produce. "Kann" means "cane" in Haitian Creole and is a nod to Gourdet's early memories of listening to street vendors selling snacks from their carts. 

From the moment diners open menus, the freshness of the Caribbean is ready to delight guests with tastes of both exotic adventure and home comfort. With mocktails and cocktails, a textured drink menu offers a list of spirits and spices that keep palates fresh between bites of barbeque, chilis, and plantains. "So many people play a role in making every ingredient, dish, and service possible, and I'm honored to work alongside such passionate individuals," Gourdet told Oregon Live.

One of Portland's most recognized restaurants

The live-fire restaurant can be tricky to get into, and reservations are strongly encouraged. Kann's menu is gluten and dairy-free, and dishes are served family-style, with the aim of creating a more interactive and shared experience at the dining tables.

Diners can feast on plantain brioche buns, taro root fritters, and seared butterfish before sampling smoked herring, octopus, and marinated salmon. Proteins are glazed with habaneros, cane syrup, and pineapple, and rich vegetable stews warm bodies from the inside out. For dessert, shaved ice, fruit sorbets, and Haitian coffee ice creams can be the perfect finishing touch for a flavorful meal, while drinks offer blends of white rum and vanilla-anise liqueur or green apple, vermouth, and bitters. For teetotalers, concoctions of sweet potato syrup and lime, passion fruit and star anise cordial, and coconut milk and maple syrup offer flavorful options without the booze. 

As captured by Eater's live stream of the event, the CEO of the James Beard Foundation recognizes that "Given the scale and influence of this industry, positive change that you make can truly have a profound ripple effect ... The James Beard Awards are the Foundation's most powerful change lever and we're committed to making them a force for good, one that recognizes excellence both on and beyond the plate." Kann seems dedicated to becoming such a force, from the dining space to each unique dish that's served.