All Are Welcome
As a child growing up in Moscow, Boris Portnoy knew he wanted to be a chef in the same way that other children dreamed of becoming firefighters or astronauts. Just before the fall of the Soviet Union, Portnoy and his family immigrated to the United States, and he set aside his aspirations to study economics at the New School. But just after graduation, he moved to Philadelphia to apprentice with Chef Fritz Blanc at Deux Cheminees. Here he learned to cook traditional French cuisine and pored over Blanc’s extensive culinary library, numbering over 10,000 volumes. After cooking in several notable Philadelphia restaurants, Portnoy traveled to Spain to work at Mugaritz, helmed by Chef Andoni Anduliz. In the Basque region he traversed the landscape in search of wild ingredients and came to understand the relationship of food to its surroundings. This awareness of the dynamism of growing cycles, as well as the ebbs and flows of a year’s harvest and preparation, became especially prominent in Portnoy’s subsequent work as a pastry chef at Winterland Restaurant and Campton Place in San Francisco, and later at The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley, which holds three Michelin stars. In 2005, StarChefs named him Rising Star Pastry Chef and in October of 2006 he was awarded Best Pastry Chef by Northside Magazine. Portnoy received the prestigious Vilcek Foundation prize for innovation in culinary arts in 2010.
Portnoy first experimented with wild yeasts while managing the bread program at Meadowood. Bread was a revelation, and prompted him to begin a new venture, Satellite Republic, to study the flatbreads and cuisine of the former Soviet Near Eastern Republics, from Armenia to Uzbekistan. Portnoy has traveled several times to the Caucasus region, where he experienced the warmth and hospitality of the Georgian, Chechen, and Kist people. Central Asian culinary history draws from both Turkish and Persian cuisine, resulting in a subtle balance of brightness and fragrant spices that Satellite Republic aims to replicate. Satellite Republic is nomadic. Its first physical form was a moped trike equipped with a tandir oven, a traditional cooking method in near and central Asia. Portnoy has developed his love of natural fermentation into his current role as a creative director and owner of All Are Welcome Bakery and Gray and Gray Bread and Wine where he’s practicing his craft in fermentation on different types of ferments from wheat, to koji spores, to cheese fermentation.