What Chefs Love

Favorite Dishes Created by Local Flavor Makers

Article by Kelsey Claspell

Photography by Cheryl Parton

Originally published in Bend Lifestyle

Out of the many different things that make up a community, food is often times the most universally understood and celebrated. From chef to customer, food is a language of love that everyone can appreciate. In Bend, a town chock full of incredible restaurant options from a variety of cuisines and cultures, that food experience is no exception. The backbone of the following establishments’ successes are the chefs who love the food they create.

Marcelo Bento

Who is Marcelo Bento?

Born and raised in Portugal, Marcelo Bento learned how to make traditional Portuguese cuisine as a child from his mom and his grandmother, who owned a restaurant in Lisbon. In college, Bento studied hospitality management in his home country and started working in hotels at the age of 18. He went on to manage a restaurant in Lisbon, working alongside a chef who further sparked his interest in creating authentic food. In 2014, Bento moved to Bend to work at Sintra Restaurant (originally Café Sintra), founded in 2000 by his uncle Manuel Dos Santos.

What kind of food do you create at Sintra Restaurant?

At Sintra Restaurant, Bento creates popular Portuguese dishes with his own twists. “Sometimes we can’t get all the ingredients here that you find in Portugal, so we innovate with American ingredients,” says Bento. He paints Portuguese cuisine as, “Simple food; grilled, fresh and crisp. It’s food that doesn’t require a ton of seasoning.” Spanish influences can be found throughout the menu as well, in tapas dishes and chilled soups like gazpacho. Their pastries are made entirely from scratch, inspired by those of his childhood in Portugal.

Favorite dish on the menu?

Bento enthusiastically describes Ovos á Portuguesa, a bold and flavorful traditional Portuguese dish comprised of sautéed sweet peppers and red onion, diced linguiça, topped with two poached eggs, a spicy tomato sauce and cilantro. It’s served alongside two slices of grilled bread with extra virgin olive oil, as well as potatoes roasted with rosemary, paprika, garlic and white wine. “It’s a mix of a lot of amazing flavors and colors that when combined, (they) look just like the Portuguese flag,” he says.

Corrine O’Shea

Who is Corrine O’Shea?

Corrine O’Shea, owner of Salud Raw Foods, visited Bend 15 ago and never left. Originally from the San Juan Islands, Corrine was raised to appreciate simple, natural food. Before her brick and mortar location, Salud was a Facebook page for locals to request vegan and specialty-diet desserts. “I would use the kitchen at Nancy P’s after hours and deliver desserts to customers the next day,” says O’Shea of Salud’s early days. Corrine loves spending time with her two daughters and making pounded metal jewelry in her spare time.

What kind of food do you create at Salud Raw Foods?

Every item on Salud’s menu is 100% raw, plant-based and organic. “Around the time I opened Salud, there weren’t a lot of options for those with gluten, soy, or egg allergies,” says O’Shea. She explains how she shaped the offerings at Salud: “I wanted to create a place where everyone could eat anything on the menu.” In addition, using only raw, plant-based ingredients offers food in its most natural state.

“Raw food contains enzymes, which are killed when cooked. People don’t get enough enzymes, and we create entirely raw food that you can enjoy while getting those nutrients your body needs,” says O’Shea.

Favorite dish on the menu?

“This is a hard one,” chuckles O’Shea. “If I had to pick just one, it would be the first item we put on the original menu, which is one of two things that hasn’t left since the beginning. I used to make this at home before Salud existed, and it really got the wheels turning in my head.” She describes the Island Style Wrap with a sense of nostalgic affection: Mango, mint, cilantro, ginger cashew pesto, an almond pineapple sauce, bell peppers, carrots and cabbage, all tucked into a collard wrap.

Jaclyn Perez & Betsy McDonald

Who are Jaclyn Perez and Betsy McDonald?

Jaclyn Perez and Betsy McDonald first crossed paths nearly a decade ago as chefs on the same yacht. Betsy’s husband, Mack, was captain and the pair cooked and cruised their way around the world. They worked together for nearly six years before disembarking from the sea and thinking about their next adventure. After traveling the world separately for several months, Perez met up with the McDonalds in Modena, Italy, where they all shared an incredible meal.  They described how, “Several glasses of wine later,” it was declared they would finally start their own restaurant. What would they call it?  Perez looked up at the tree above her and proclaimed, “Let’s call it The Lemon Tree!”

What kind of food do you create at The Lemon Tree?

McDonald describes The Lemon Tree’s food as "internationally inspired and locally sourced.” A new menu is printed every few days, often with inspiration and ingredients plucked from the downtown farmer’s market around the corner from the restaurant and held each Wednesday from May through Oct. 10.

Favorite dish on the menu?

McDonald chose the national dish of Indonesia, Nasi Goreng, defining it as “a sexy, succulent dish that looks simple on paper, but has complex flavors.” Spicy fried rice with shrimp, chicken and vegetables is topped with an over-easy egg and garnished with cilantro, lime cheek, sambal (a hot sauce) and pickled cucumbers. “Much like the Indonesian way, you can take the basic dish and season it to your liking,” she says.

For Perez, a favorite is Shakshuka, a traditional Tunisian dish. The Lemon Tree’s Shakshuka is a union of poached eggs in a chunky tomato sauce, with chili peppers, bell peppers, onion, cumin, garlic and paprika. “This dish blossoms more and more as you eat it,” says Perez, describing the dish with affection.

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