PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Justin Sutherland is from Minneapolis. He’s a celebrity chef who’s been on Top Chef and Iron Chef America. And he is a big fan of Portland.
“I love Portland. I used to come here a lot pre-pandemic. It’s, it’s one of my favorite cities,” Sutherland told KOIN 6 News. “It reminds me a lot of Minneapolis where I’m from. I just think, you know, the culture, the art, just everything about it I just have been drawn to.”
What’s now drawn Sutherland to Portland is his new downtown restaurant, Big E, around the corner from where the downtown Portland food carts used to be at SW 10th and Alder. Big E is in a spot called Food Cart Alley inside the Moxy Hotel.
The egg is king at Big E, but the breakfast staple isn’t limited to being a morning meal.
“Egg sandwiches, you know, phenomenal egg sandwiches, things from smoke salmon to crab meat to burger sausage patties, vegetarian, just really trying to take the egg sandwich, make it not just for breakfast,” he said. “I mean, it’s an all day concept. We just put an egg on everything.”
An egg sandwich represents a comfort food that also helps this busy chef explore a new place.
“I travel so much for work. And every city I go to I’m always asking bartenders and hotel concierge what’s that best egg sandwich in town.”
As for the name, he credits the inspiration to his favorite rapper.
“I love Biggie Smalls, Notorious B.I.G. So it was kind of a mix between you know, the egg sandwiches, music, Biggie and we got the name.”
Music is infused in the menu, with sandwiches named after song lyrics. There are also local ingredients like Tillamook cheese and milk buns from the Beaverton-based Japanese bakery Oyatsupan.
“When you’re having a sandwich, you know, that’s messy, like an egg sandwich with runny yolks and cheese and all this stuff, you want something that gets crispy and sturdy enough to hold all the insides up, but it’s still soft enough, so you can kind of squeeze it and get that good bite,” Sutherland said. “And this bun is perfect.”
These are the tasty touches to sandwiches he hopes will be a staple in Portland.
“I think Portland has always been a great foodie destination and, you know, obviously the last couple years has been unfortunate for tourism and dining, especially,” he said. “I hope anything we can add to this community to help bring that back and, you know, to be a part of the community and just help bring it back to life.”