Humanizing Chefs: Porter Lewis

Cincinnati Chefs
4 min readSep 20, 2023

Name — Porter James Lewis

Where do you Cook? — I’m the Chef de Cuisine of The Bakers Table in Newport, Kentucky

Where are you from originally? — Maryland, but i moved here from Oakland, California about three years ago

Favorite Food(s) — Ramen, Bucatini all’amatriciana (my spirit pasta), birria tacos, al pastor burritos, bagels with schmear, matzo ball soup, blue crabs with an unholy amount of old bay on them, Smash burgers, fried rice, chankonabe, chicken al mattone, tomato salads with cranberry beans, just like simple roasted vegetables tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Favorite Chef(s) — Beau Schooler, Ivan Orkin, Tara Lewis, Emeril Lagasse, Alton Brown

Favorite Cincy Restaurant(s) (Past or Present) — Mochiko, Kiki, Olla Taqueria, Nolia,

Favorite Food Memory or Meal — So I grew up in Maryland and every summer my dad would pick up a bushel of blue crabs and we’d have a massive crab feed with friends and family. As soon as those crabs were dumped out onto the newspaper lined table, it was gosh darn go time. I’m a eat as i smash kinda crabber. I don’t have time to make a pile. Gently using my wooden mallet to crack open arms, ripping apart the shell, pulling out meat with fingers absolutely smothered in Old Bay, and crushing sun tea my mom had put out the day before are some of my most cherished childhood memories.

I first knew I wanted to be a chef when — Probably when I moved away from Maryland after my sophomore year of high school. I went to a vocational school that had a culinary program. I didn’t think i’d miss it so much. I just wanted to be able to know how to cook some basic dishes, so that when I went to college I wouldn’t end up just eating instant ramen and frozen meals. I ended up getting accepted into the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone right out of high school. Now Ramen is a passion project of mine.

If I weren’t a chef, I would be — I don’t think the alphabet boys would like my answer.

My first job was — Sandwich maker and dishwasher at Le boulanger

Why I love my job, in three words — Passion, Joy, Fire

If I could have dinner with anyone, past or present, it would be — My friend Andrew Pummer, He passed away 5 years ago. It’d be amazing to eat, drink, and laugh with him again.

My favorite book is — Slaughterhouse 5

Favorite thing to cook after a busy service — Pasta with miscellaneous mise en place with a salad mixed in with it

Favorite Movie(s) — The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Fellowship is probably my favorite though), Commando, Star Wars Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars Rogue One, The Fifth Element, Wayne’s World, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, Rambo: First Blood Part 2, The Witch, The Lighthouse, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Hawk Down, Mandy, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, John Wick, Empire Records, The Silence of the Lambs, Blade Runner

Favorite TV show(s) — Trailer Park Boys, South Park, Band of Brothers, Ancient Aliens,

Favorite Song(s) –Beyond the Sea, One of these days, Never Fight A Man With A Perm, If I were a Rich Man, She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles), Con te Partiro, Smoko, Star Rider, Holiday in Cambodia, Tribute, Rasputin, Eye in the Sky, Poison, Wet Dream, Island in the Sun, Beautiful Ride, War Pigs, Highwayman, Panama, Urgant, Satan’s a Woman

Favorite Band or Musician — Idles, Tenacious D or Pink Floyd, that’s a tough choice

Favorite Place to travel — Anywhere on the west coast. My family and a lot of my friends are in California and Oregon.

Favorite Hobby(s) — I play a lot of video games, which is probably my favorite form of escapism. I also love geeking out on history and delving into youtube videos and wikipedia articles.

Favorite Quote — “So it goes.”

Biggest pet peeve — I don’t need a story, just tell me what you need on the fly.

Your motivational quote for other cooks/chefs- It’s alright to make mistakes, just recognize them, fix them, and keep pushing on.

My advice to future culinary pros — Figure out how to have a work/life balance. This career can eat up any and all the time you have. Recognize toxic kitchens and remove yourself as quickly as you can. It’s not worth it for a “resume builder” if you’re dreading going to work. Always remember, it’s just food.

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Cincinnati Chefs

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