At The Country Cat, American craft cooking is truly at its prime. Adam and Jackie Sappington have masterfully created their unique interpretation of the country’s ever-evolving culinary heritage yielding a conversation-starting menu that highlights flavor profiles from Adam’s southern upbringing balanced out by classic Northwest styles. The cozy and soulful restaurant is nestled in southeast Portland’s rather unexpected Montavilla area, a family neighborhood reminiscent of Adam’s hometown in Missouri allowing the duo to foster a restaurant environment that serves the community first. The seasonally-focused menu represents the best local offerings from surrounding markets; in fact, 65 percent of their produce is hand-picked from the farmer’s market – it’s no wonder Adam can often be seen winding through the restaurant providing guests with a sample of the season’s first strawberries that then appear in various ways throughout their menus.
Cured for four months, The Country Cat’s popular country ham is made from the traditional process known from the days of Thomas Jefferson. Each year, they make five tons of house-cured bacon and over 1,000 pounds of beef jerky (better known there as “meat candy”) used in many ways including to garnish Bloody Mary’s. Even the ketchup is made from scratch at 10 gallons a week while 350 of the most perfect buttermilk biscuits are handmade, handcut and baked daily. Well-known for his artful butchery, Adam purchases and respectfully carves a whole 160-pound heritage pig on-site weekly utilizing everything available to create a carnivore’s dream menu. Perfectly punctuating this unique aspect of the restaurant is the popular Whole Hog plate featuring a brined chop, a pinwheel of pork belly, smoked shoulder meat and head cheese croquette, served over white corn grits with a seasonal fruit sauce. Simultaneously, the restaurant is well known for its exquisite fish entrees and wide-ranging vegetarian options.
About Adam and Jackie
Most every night, Portland’s well-known husband-and-wife culinary team Adam and Jackie Sappington can be found buzzing about The Country Cat, their dream restaurant that they opened in April 2007. Adam serves as the Executive Chef while Jackie plays the role of Executive Pastry Chef, seamlessly blending their talents into a family-driven and community-focused eatery centered on American craft cooking taking the farm-to-table concept to admirable heights.
The duo first met in 1995 while working together for three years at Portland’s Wildwood Restaurant, which laid a solid foundation of friendship and professional respect between the pair. Falling in love over the stove, they married in 2000 and always remain focused on camaraderie, supporting each other as well as balancing out their individual strengths and weaknesses. They are active members of the community, especially when it comes to educating area children about seasonal and local food. The Sappingtons have two sons of their own, Atticus and Quinn, whom they simply adore.
This September, the Sappingtons will debut their first cookbook, Heartlandia: Heritage Recipes from The Country Cat (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Heartlandia is inspired by the restaurant, the couple and their world of soulful, heartwarming comfort food. This year the couple also launched their second location for The Country Cat at Portland International Airport. They created the popular Broken Cleaver line of aprons in 2013, adding to their mini culinary empire in 2013. Craving an apron that is lightweight, flexible and stylish, they designed three fashionable yet functional aprons: the Butcher Apron, Baker’s Apron and the Bistro Apron. Finally, the team opened The Calico Room – a multi-use event space – in 2014, which is home to special events, cooking classes, pop ups and more.
More About Adam
Always comforted by food’s ability to incite conversation and generate close-knit bonds, Adam Sappington is the Executive Chef at The Country Cat, the premier made-from-scratch, farm-to-table restaurant located in Southeast Portland. Known for his whole animal butchery and American craft cooking, Adam’s passion for food dates back to his upbringing on the central Missouri farmlands, where he spent hours with his mother in the kitchen and attended the local farmers markets with his grandmother.
Hungry and ready to plunge into his new career, Adam started work at a cutting-edge trattoria in his hometown. He moved to Portland to attend Western Culinary Institute and soon landed at Wildwood Restaurant where he worked his way up from pantry cook to executive chef over the course of 11 years, which shaped him into the chef he is today. Three-time semi-finalist for Best Chef Northwest’s James Beard Award and lauded as one of the pre-eminent butchery chefs in America, Adam believes his butchery skill set has made him a more well rounded chef while also supporting farmers and minimizing waste. Adam has now called the restaurant kitchen home for over 20 years and cannot imagine spending the majority of his time anywhere else.
Adam has been nominated as a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef Northwest in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The Country Cat has been featured on many national TV programs: its butchery program was highlighted on the “Meat Lover’s Paradise” episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in 2013, Adam appeared on ABC’s The Chew to demonstrate The Country Cat’s famous Cast Iron Skillet-Fried Chicken and Biscuits in 2014, and Adam and Jackie both competed – and won! – on Food Network’s Chopped program in March 2015. The restaurant will also be featured on Travel Channel’s Food Paradise this summer.
More About Jackie
The daughter of a single mother and self-described “pie geek,” Jackie started experimenting with food at an early age and quickly fell in love with cookbooks, tackling her first recipe at just 10 years old – a puff pastry dessert from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” She studied the Anthropology of Food at the University of Oregon then moved to Portland in 1995 where she worked her way through restaurant kitchens as a savory chef including Wildwood Restaurant and Paley’s Place. She then switched gears to pastry – learning about and appreciating the preciseness and scientific aspects of baking – while working at Café Azul and Lauro Kitchen.
With no formal training, Jackie’s on-the-job education proved time, dedication and repetition were the keys to perfecting the craft. With a sole focus on pastries for over 10 years now, Jackie’s approach is warm and patient, but meticulous and infused with love. She simply could not live without her mixer and offset icing spatula. And while you’ll never find a microwave in her pastry kitchen, you’ll always find fresh vanilla beans and parchment paper. She loves to create whimsical takes on classic desserts, admitting a fresh pie coming out of the oven hugs her with a warm blanket of happiness that makes her smile. In her limited spare time, Jackie can be found on the soccer field with her sons or training for and running marathons.