Featured Chefs and Restaurants of Cork & Barrel 2016 2017-04-13T11:47:08+00:00

Featured Chefs and Restaurants of Cork & Barrel 2016

2017 Guest Chefs Coming Soon!

OJ Robinson – The Benson Hotel, Portland, OR      (Thursday Winemaker Dinner and Friday Sip of Cork & Barrel)

Chef OJ Robinson is no stranger to the kitchen, having started on a cooking line at the age of 15. Chef Robinson studied at the Cascade Culinary Institute in Central Oregon and has accrued 15 years of kitchen experience, including executive chef positions in Oregon at Seventh Mountain Resort and Conference Center in Bend and The Resort at the Mountain in Welches.

Over the years, Chef Robinson has developed his ability to truly define a restaurant and fine tune its story through his menu. He enjoys the camaraderie of a culinary team and working together to deliver memorable experiences for guests. As Executive Chef at The Benson, A Coast Hotel, Chef Robinson oversees all food service operations in catering and The Palm Court restaurant. He defines his style as upscale American with dishes that are simple, use quality ingredients and are great tasting. Being a part of the iconic Portland, Ore. hotel is the highlight of his career and his ultimate goal is to make guests happy and create memories through food. His signature dish is molasses and red wine braised pork cheeks with crispy polenta and pickled shallots.

When not creating mouth-watering dishes in the kitchen, Chef Robinson enjoys golfing and exploring new places with his girlfriend and Jack Russell Terrier. He also spends time using his culinary skills to volunteer, having worked for Family Kitchen, serving dinner to the homeless, as well as The Candle Lighters of Central Oregon, creating a Christmas dinner for children and families affected by childhood cancer.

Chef OJ Robinson

Cliff Eslinger – 900 Wall      (Friday Sip of Cork & Barrel)

Executive Chef Cliff Eslinger started working in restaurants in upstate New York as a teenager. After moving to Colorado, he worked at the Flagstaff House in Boulder and discovered that the best path to fulfilling his career goal was to head to the Culinary Institute of America. After graduation, Cliff moved to Bend where he became involved with the opening of Merenda as a Sous Chef.  Cliff was exposed to the tremendous abundance of local product throughout Oregon and solidified his commitment to responsibly sourced ingredients. After 5 years at Merenda, Cliff was presented with the opportunity to be Chef de Cuisine for a new Japanese-inspired restaurant in downtown Bend called Deep. At Deep, Cliff learned new techniques and gained recognition for utilizing challenging ingredients in a thoughtful manner. After leaving Deep, Cliff joined Katie and Marcus in opening 900 Wall as Executive Chef.

At 900 Wall, Cliff has continued to build his reputation around the core value of responsibly sourced and seasonally appropriate menus. Cliff’s menus feature a wide-ranging style described as modern American with strong influences from Italian cuisine. Cliff’s cooking and commitment to emphasis on seasonal and sustainably produced ingredients has earned him national attention, and he was one of ten regional chefs highlighted in the Best Chefs of America book. Cliff has also been recognized locally as an industry leader by being included on the advisory board for Cascade Culinary Institute.  Cliff’s desire to bring joy through thoughtfully prepared food continues to motivate him at 900 Wall.

Joe Kim – 5 Fusion and Sushi Bar      (Thursday Winemaker Dinner and Friday Sip of Cork & Barrel)

Chef Joe Kim kicked off his career at the Take Japanese Restaurant in Oakland, CA as the apprentice of Toshio Togoshi, Master Japanese chef.  Joe then served as chef at Yoshino Sushi in Alameda under renowned chef Kazu Yamaguchi.  Most recently, Joe worked with Master Chef Tadashi Kirmura at Kyoto Restaurant and as chef at IKudon in San Francisco before joining 5 Fusion and Sushi Bar.

Chef Joe has built an environment at 5 Fusion that is filled with passion, creativity, and a true desire to push the limits of cuisine in Bend.  In a nod to his talents, he was recently nominated for the second time for a James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef in the Northwest – the first Central Oregon restaurant to receive this honor.  Under his direction, 5 Fusion was selected the 2012 Central Oregon Restaurant of the Year, and the 2012 Source Weekly Reader’s Choice Restaurant of the Year.  He was invited to represent Central Oregon at the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting at Portland’s FEAST event last year.  Additionally, Chef Joe won this 2012 Central Oregon Top Chef competition at the annual “Bite of Bend” event and was recognized by his peers as one of the Best Chefs in America for 2013.

Executive Chef Kevin Linde, Pronghorn Resort (Thursday Winemaker Dinner)

Chef Linde grew up helping his family raise animals and grow vegetables, developing a deep respect for where food comes from. At Pronghorn, he works with a network of local Central Oregon farmers and friends to source fresh regional ingredients. Then he interprets those ingredients into inspired and approachable culinary experiences.

Before arriving at Pronghorn, Chef Linde was the owner and Executive Chef of his Northwest inspired restaurant Porta on the Oregon Coast. He is a graduate of Seattle Central’s culinary program and also Washington State University’s hospitality program. Chef Linde has worked in restaurants in Washington, Arizona and Oregon, including Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

“I take pride in adding a personal touch to every plate that leaves the kitchen.”–Executive Chef Kevin Linde

Executive Chef Zac Hoffman,  Tetherow Golf Club      (Friday Sip of Cork & Barrel)

It’s been a busy past several years for Zac Hoffman as the Executive Chef of the “The Row,” Tetherow’s pub-style restaurant, and Tetherow Grill.

In between menu planning, hiring and prepping for summer events, he’s successfully managed the kitchens for both, while working on the concepts for the wine bar and café coming in with Tetherow’s exciting new events pavilion.

Bringing humor to the kitchen and a delicious twist to every dish he creates, Hoffman has felt the calling to cook since childhood. An Oregon native, he proudly uses locally sourced products whenever possible.

Zac was the primary chef for the main Cork & Barrel dinner for the first three years. He’s excited to take part in “Sip” this year, spending more time talking to guests and wowing them with his amazing bites.

Chef George Tate, Tate & Tate Catering

(Saturday Grand Cru Dinner)

In 1994, George and Barb Tate left behind the hectic big city Portland life for a calmer existence in Redmond. Natives to Central Oregon, and high school sweethearts, it didn’t take long for George and Barb to re-establish their roots.

George’s passion for food has followed him throughout his life. From his first taste as a restauranteur at Redmond’s old 86 Corral, to days spent sharpening his skills at the Culinary Institute of America, to achieving stature as Executive Chef at Portland’s esteemed Heathman Hotel, George simply loves to cook.

Not one to sit idle, George played in the couple’s home kitchen preparing small care packages of freshly made soups and breads for friends and family. Before long, what started as a fun way to pass the time, sprouted into Tate and Tate Catering. Word quickly spread of George and Barb’s fine attention to detail and delicious food. Now the catering business is considered one of the finest Central Oregon has to offer.

George and Barbara are heartfelt supporters of their Central Oregon community and are thrilled to support KIDS Center through Cork & Barrel.


Executive Chef Steve Helt, Zydeco Kitchen and Bistro 28      (Saturday Grand Cru Dinner Reception)

Chef Steve Helt was born in upstate New York. His love of cooking began almost immediately as a family hobby. He began to cook professionally at the age of sixteen. After graduating High School he attended Michigan State University and graduated with a Hotel Restaurant Institution Management Degree.This aided him in facilitating a professional restaurant management career; during which time he managed Houston’s and J Alexander’s Restaurants across the country. He ended his corporate career in 2004 to open his own restaurant in Bend Oregon; Zydeco Kitchen and Cocktails.

Zydeco is a from scratch kitchen focusing on healthy local ingredients, Steve uses organic ingredients when they are available. Local beef and lamb are proudly served at Steve’s establishment. Zydeco is a upscale casual American restaurant with flavor profile that is influenced by south. A source of pride at Zydeco is the education the staff receives with regards to every ingredient used and their sourcing. This knowledge allows Steve to run a kitchen extremely adaptive to the guests needs, including allergies and food sensitivities.