Consistent, simple and purposeful. This is the philosophy and approach that has propelled Chef Jenn Louis to a culinary career spanning nearly two decades. Louis’ journey began as a teenager struggling to find her path as an artist. After graduating from Pitzer College in Claremont, CA, Louis traveled throughout Europe and North and South America, even settling in Israel for several months. Upon her return to California, she learned of a job opening from a close friend cooking for an Outward Bound base camp deep in the North Carolina woods. Louis landed the job and after a few short weeks at the camp, she had an epiphany that cooking was her passion and could lead to a successful and fulfilling life-long career. Louis followed this dream all the way to the Western Culinary Institute of Portland, and shortly after began working as a line cook at the prominent Portland restaurant, Wildwood.
In 2000, Louis’ entrepreneurial spirit led her to open Culinary Artistry, a full-service catering company, providing everything from valet service to floral arrangements to an array of menu styles. Today, it is considered one of the top event planning companies in Portland, one that is not only wildly successful but committed to sustainable business practices.
Eight years later, rooted by the myriad inspirations of their home, Louis and husband David Welch opened their first brick-and-mortar concept, Lincoln Restaurant. Lincoln is a balance between old and new, modern and classic, rustic and refined. Louis’ menu takes its cue from the seasons, harvesting locally-grown Pacific Northwest ingredients and transforming them into sophisticated yet honest fare. Her mix of fortitude and finesse immediately made Lincoln a standout on the Portland restaurant scene. Just a few short months after opening, the restaurant was recognized as one of Condé Nast Traveler’s “Hot List” of 50 top new restaurants in North America, while Louis was recognized as a semifinalist for the 2010 and 2011 James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef Northwest.” The success of Lincoln was overwhelming, but it sparked an idea for her next venture.
In the spring of 2011, Louis and Welch launched their second restaurant, Sunshine Tavern, in the Southeast Division district of Portland. Louis and Welch sought to create a haven for both young families and singles, serving up soul-satisfying food and playful cocktails. For this quintessential tavern, Louis created dishes that are comforting and unfussy, while using the highest quality ingredients available – a philosophy she has felt passionate about throughout her culinary career. In 2012, the popularity of Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern catapulted Louis’ presence on a national scale and she was named one of Food & Wine’s prestigious Best New Chefs.
When not in the kitchen or planning events, Louis can be found traveling the globe with her husband, teaching cooking classes, playing the drums or spending time with her three cats, White Cat, Orange Cat and Wasco.
With over 15 years of experience working in restaurants, David Welch brings a unique and sophisticated style to the beverage programs at Portland’s Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern. A man with many hats, Welch enthusiastically serves as the maître‘d, bar manager and co-owner of both restaurants and is in a continuous search for the best craft beers and local artisanal wines on the market.
At just the tender age of 14 years old, Welch landed his first job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant in Oakland, CA. After just one shift, a paycheck and a cheeseburger on the house, he knew this was his passion. Shortly after attending college at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA, Welch relocated to Portland, OR to pursue a master’s degree from Reed College. In 1999, he landed a job at one of Portland’s finest restaurants, Wildwood Restaurant & Bar. It was here that Welch was first introduced to local Pacific Northwest ingredients and cuisine and learned just how different Portland’s unique fine dining landscape is from other areas of the country. It was also here that he met his future wife, Jenn Louis. From Wildwood, Welch moved on to Carafe, an intimate Parisian-style bistro where he quickly developed a foundation and appreciation for French wines.
Eager to continue his newfound beverage education, he began working as a bartender at 3 Doors Down Café & Lounge, mixing his own cocktails and diving into the exciting world of Italian wines
While Welch has spent the better part of his adulthood working in some of Portland’s finest restaurants, he split his time following his passion for journalism. He has served as a reporter for Oregon Public Broadcasting and a producer for “The Savvy Traveler” radio show, as well as lending his expertise to national radio programs like NPR’s “Morning Edition”, “Weekend Edition”, “Day to Day”, American Public Media’s “Marketplace”, “Weekend America” and the popular food show “The Splendid Table”. Welch has also penned stories for a number of local publications, including Portland Monthly, The Oregonian and Edible Portland. The focus has remained on one topic across the board: food and beverage.
At Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern, Welch has curated a wine list that runs the gamut from star Oregon pinots to gavi grown near the Ligurian border. His playful cocktails are seasonally focused concoctions rooted in the classics. The ever-changing drink menus are enhanced with an array of house-made sodas, including rosemary-grapefruit and blood orange-vanilla, in addition to hand-picked import brews and microbrews.
When Welch is not behind the bar, managing the front-of-house operations at Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern, or writing, he’s following yet another one of his passions, baseball.