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Chef & Farmer Tale

Meet Chef Matt Christianson of Urban Farmer in Portland’s The Nines hotel and Scot Laney of Laney Family Farms and Eat Oregon First. The two have been working together for five years, helping each other grow and enhance the city’s reputation as a culinary trailblazer.

Besides a mantle of local and regional awards, Urban Farmer was recently named one of Best Steakhouses in the U.S. by Travel & Leisure magazine. What makes it such a standout? Chef Matt says, “It’s the breadth of pedigree in our program that makes it unique. Grass fed, prime, dry aged, Japanese inspired Wagyu and our own red angus exclusives all stand out as a cut above.”

Chef Matt doesn’t take any beef. Scot Laney says he visited the farm over several months so they could come up with Laney Classics Beef, grass-fed and finished with brewer’s mash. He explains, “Matt wants and needs everything to be consistent since Urban Farmer is such a high volume restaurant.”

No kidding. Chef Christianson has 75 employees and produces as many as 2,500 meals a day. Not only does his kitchen serve the restaurant, it also provides The Nine’s catering and room service. According to Laney, it’s quite interesting to watch such a massive operation run so smoothly and that Matt buys the most farm fresh products in the state.

By the time Matt reached Urban Farmer, he was well versed in Farm to Table cooking. While at the San Francisco Bay area Lark Creek Inn, he was responsible for ordering much of the restaurant’s produce from the farmers market. He says, ‘I was given a budget and it was up to me to develop meaningful relationships, not only to get the best product but the best price as well. That’s what makes the culture of Farm to Table work. To sustain the needs of our guests, everything in the system needs to be sustained. I am just one piece of the web. Meeting the needs of the producer is just as important as those of the diner.” Those producers are so important to Urban Farmer they’re listed on its website.

Scot Laney’s family has been farming since the mid-18th century and in Oregon for the last 50 years. He’s been selling grass-fed beef to consumers for 30 years, but started getting interest from chefs about six years ago. Now, he provides beef, pork and eggs to 53 restaurants in the Portland area and butcher shops. To help his family and trusted partner farms distribute products more efficiently, Eat Oregon First was established with one goal: to make the highest quality local food available to the widest audience at the lowest possible prices. This includes beef, pork, seafood, grains and eggs.

Portland has always been known for its forward thinking residents, ahead-of-the-curve sensibilities and environmentally conscious lifestyle, so it’s no surprise that it was one of the leaders of the Farm to Table movement. But Chef Matt Christianson says this kind of eating is just a way of life now. He says, “At this time in my career and the food scene in PDX, farm to table is just ‘being a chef’. They are one and the same.”

We couldn’t agree more. Please keep up your great work!

-Farm Star Living