- Published in Food + Drink
You never know if a meal is going to make your “top five” list, and this one surpassed all expectations. I hesitate to call what I experienced “dinner theatre”; that conjures up memories of bad theatre in the ’80s. On the other hand, it was by all counts theatrical.
I was telling a well known Portland blogger about my plan to write this piece and he replied, “I’m happy to hear someone is willing to say it isn’t so.”
Having been born and raised in Brooklyn; experienced its renaissance and recent international attention, I would have to answer, “no” to this question. Portland is a beautiful and dynamic city and it should not be compared to Brooklyn for many reasons. There are a few considerations when pondering the comparison. For one, Brooklyn boasts a population of nearly 3 million people; that’s at least two times larger than the entire state of Maine. Brooklyn is connected to the borough of Manhattan; Manhattan is the center of the free world’s financial market. Brooklyn has a subway system and is one of five boroughs that make up the city of New York City — technically, Brooklyn is not even a city. However, these are big picture facts, the truth of the matter is that the two cities have very little in common.
Emilitsa on Congress in in the process of a culinary makeover, and that’s good for all of us. This splendid Greek restaurant has been a part of Portland’s dining scene for six years. I have enjoyed eating at Emilitsa since the day after I arrived here from Brooklyn. Though I’m not Greek, I believe my ancestors might be — what else could explain the “Papa” in my last name? In Greece, family is everything; very similar to the Italian culture I was raised in.
My name is Christopher Papagni. I arrived here last winter after spending 16 years at the French Culinary Institute (FCI) in New York City. The last position I held at the school was Executive Vice President. After completing a Ph.D. at New York University in Education Administration, it seemed logical to marry my love of food with education. FCI was where chefs like Bobby Flay and David Chang went to school to learn basic French technique. While employed at the school I became involved with the James Beard Foundation, The American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF), The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), The Culinary Trust, Spoons Across America, and other culinary foundations and organizations. I have settled here in Portland to enjoy all that a city by the sea has to offer. This is how and when my love affair with food began.