Portland is a city teeming with local craftsmen, artisans, and vendors. I truly believe you can get just about any product locally. I also love giving local gifts to guests, friends and family. I am so proud of the abundance of amazing things coming from this city. When I heard news Providore Fine Foods was opening I thought it sounded neat, and attended the opening party. The minute I walked in I was impressed with the place. First, it’s beautiful. Vibrant colors in every direction. As you stroll the aisles you find unique, smile provoking and hard to find ingredients at every glance. As you make your way to the outside edges, you find glass cases filled with some incredible local foods. They have a wine bar, oyster bar, chicken window and more to come. It’s really quite impressive. I’ve been back a couple times now, and each time I discover a new treasure. The most recent time, I brought my friend Brooke, who is a Louisiana native. I heard her squeal with excitement from the next aisle. “Real Grits!!” she exclaimed. I must have had a confused look on my face, “DO you know how hard it is to find REAL GRITS?”
I had a chance to chat with Kaie Wellman, the Co-Owner of Providore Fine Foods to get some insider info on what makes Providore Fine Foods a Portland staple, and one stop shop for locals. Kaie is is an author, explorer, curator, designer and fifth-generation Portland native. She created the popular eat.shop guides series. Kaie oversees marketing, design and is a co-owner of Pastaworks and Providore Fine Foods and is also a buyer.
Q. What makes Providore Fine Foods special? (or different from other fine food retailers)
Kaie: There are so many things that make Providore Fine Foods unique, but the top of the list is the stellar group of local purveyors that make up our European-style marketplace. We believe that the best shopping experience is one where you can interact with deeply passionate, knowledgable owners. At Providore, each business has an owner, or in Pastaworks’ case, owners, on site interacting with the customers.
Q. What is the history of the space?
Kaie: The building was built in 1919, and was for many years the home of Alexander, Chrysler, DeSoto Dodge. Alexander family members recently visited and were delighted to see their family’s building reimagined.
Q. What are three items from Providore Fine Foods you can’t get enough of right now?
Kaie: The Pasticchio de Garmo at Pastaworks is a hearty, delicious pasta dish that the customers are l-o-v-i-n-g. Josh at Rubinette Produce sells locally-grown (yes, you read that right) kiwi fruit from Raindance Garden. And everybody in Portland seems to be in love with the Flying Fish Oyster Bar where you can find fishmonger Paul shucking Nevor’s Netarts Bay and Torkes Oysters every afternoon.
Q. Are there any special events, or future additions people should know about?
Kaie: Arrosto will be opening the second week of April, and we can’t wait to start selling our Mediterranean-style roast chickens. We’ll be selling whole or half chickens, individually or family-style with our chicken-fat crunch potatoes and Arrosto salad. Arrosto is a window on the West side of the building, where you can take the chicken to go or we’ll have a couple of tables out back for good weather. You can also bring your food inside the store and eat.
Q. Why the name Providore Fine Foods?
Kaie: Many of the small, independent, family-run specialty stores in Australia are called “providores” pronounced pro-vi-door. It basically means a provider, which fits exactly what we do and who we are: we are providers of delicious, thoughtfully-grown and made foods.
Q. Are there any items you know about exclusive to Providore Fine Foods?
Kaie: Providore Fine Foods is the essence of a specialty market: each of the businesses source items that are not readily found. All of our businesses take great pride in working directly with small farmers, fisheries, and food purveyors. All of the businesses specialize in local and regional relationships, and Pastaworks also scours the US and Europe for incredible products that are not available anywhere else in town.
Huge thank you to Providore Fine Foods and Kaie Wellman, for all the information and hospitality! I highly suggest you head over to Providore ASAP. My tip: Have an Oyster 🙂
Providore is on Facebook and located at 2340 NE Sandy Blvd.