One of the most recognizable and celebrated names of Portland's food scene, Ken Forkish of Ken's Artisan Pizza and Ken's Artisan Bakery, is retiring and leaving the city.
While this is incredibly sad news, there is substantial light at the end of the tunnel: According to the Instagram post, both beloved businesses will continue to operate, guided by the steady hands that have been working with Forkish and baking his heavenly delights for years. The new owners of Ken's Artisan Bakery (which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary) reportedly includes general manager Theo Taylor and pastry chef Randy Dorkin, with Melissa Joubert managing front of house duties—together the threesome have racked up 43 years of working alongside Forkish.
As for Ken's Artisan Pizza, Carina Lounge's Peter Kost—who has been running day-to-day operations since July—will be that establishment's new owner alongside Chef Vince Krone, who will be maintaining his current role. In a newsletter email sent explaining the change, Forkish said, “I am very happy to be able to turn over Ken’s Artisan Bakery and Ken’s Artisan Pizza in the best way possible, one that will be sure to meet the expectations of people who have been coming in for years, or those who arrive for the first time with high expectations.”
And this commitment to quality has continued over the years. As proof, here's an early Mercury review of Ken's Artisan Pizza from 2006, gushing over their perfectly charred pies and how the restaurant is (and remains) a perfect date-night destination.
To say Forkish' career has been celebrated is a vast understatement. He's the recipient of a James Beard book award for his wildly popular cookbook, Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza, and was nominated in 2017 for the same award for his work, The Elements of Pizza: Unlocking the Secrets to World-Class Pies at Home. Forkish has also been a four-time semi-finalist for the coveted James Beard Foundation Outstanding Pastry Chef award as well as a finalist in 2018. Meanwhile both of his bakeries and cookbooks have garnered national acclaim from such trusted sources as Food & Wine, Epicurious, and Salon.
While Forkish told Portland Food + Drink that he would be leaving Portland, he was decidedly vague on where he might land or what his future plans may be outside of his retirement—though his next bread cookbook is scheduled to land in September.
Following a holiday break, both Ken's Artisan Bakery and Pizzeria will reopen tomorrow, Tuesday, January 4. Stay tuned for more updates.
Ken's Artisan Bakery, 338 NW 21st, daily 8 am-3 pm; Ken's Artisan Pizza, 304 SE 28th, Tues-Thurs 5 pm-9 pm, Fri-Sat 5 pm-10 pm, Sun 4:30 pm-9 pm