Coquin(e): [kō-'kēn] French. n. or adj. A mischievous child.
The word “coquine” is used to chide a mischievous little girl. When directed at a grown up, its meaning is something a bit more flirtatious.
Chef Katy Millard:
Katy began her culinary career as an American abroad in Paris in 2002. After graduating with a degree in Hospitality Business from Michigan State University, she headed to Europe for the summer. Following a meal at Michelin starred Restaurant Guy Savoy, she fumbled through a Lonely Planet French Phrasebook to find the words to tell Chef Savoy that she had just eaten the most spectacular meal of her life and, “I would like to work for you, I will wash dishes.”
He laughed in her face and told her show up at eight o’clock the following morning.
For the next five years Katy worked her way up through some of the best fine dining kitchens in France, starting with how to peel shallots. Her resume includes commis and chef de partie positions at: La Butte Chaillot by Guy Savoy in Paris; La Table du Lancaster by Michel Troisgros in Paris (one Michelin star); Le Château de la Chèvre d’Or in Èze Village with chef Phillipe Labbé (two Michelin stars); Le Grand Hôtel du St Jean-Cap Ferrat with chef Didier Aniès, MOF (one Michelin star).
Katy returned Stateside in 2008, drawn to San Francisco’s dining scene, she continued her kitchen training as Sous Chef at Daniel Patterson’s celebrated Coi Restaurant. Assisting with the planning and successful opening of his second venue, Plum, Katy gained valuable insight into the process of opening a new restaurant.
Portland presented Katy with an opportunity to be closer to her family, and to live in a region rich in edible resources. Here, she met Ksandek by chance, and fell for the way his strengths complement her own. Coquine was a natural next step. Since 2011, Katy has been cooking around Portland and the Willamette Valley’s wine country, befriending farmers, foragers and food lovers alike, as she and Ksandek share their commitment to sustainable practices and a completely visible food chain with dish after delicious dish.
He spent the better part of his childhood living abroad on his father’s diplomatic assignments and frequently found himself in situations where food was the only common language in the room. By the time he returned the the U.S. to study English and Psychology he carried the understanding that a meal shared with others is the most effective way to communicate goodwill. It is also the most rewarding. He moved to Portland to become immersed in the excitement of a rapidly evolving dining and wine culture. His interest in hospitality, and willingness to take on any task for the right team, landed him a position in the tasting room at Anne Amie Vineyards, a sustainably minded small winery.
Ksandek quickly rose to the challenge of directing the Hospitality Department. He spent the next five years building a successful front of house model, cooking for the crew and at events, working in the cellar, and whatever else required an extra set of hands. He also continued his education in wine, earning his advanced certificate from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. With an unpretentious and sincere sense of hospitality, and a belief that wine needs food, Ksandek created a program that consistently sold-out events ranging from fine-dining winemaker’s dinners held in the cellar, to an AVA wide tasting for 500 guests. From Counter Culture, a street-food festival featuring some of Portland’s favorite restaurants paired with wineries from around the world, to a steady series of Wine Club parties. The work was rewarding, and the wines are still consistently excellent, but he remained hungry for more.
After a chance meeting with Chef Millard, and a dinner prepared by her a few days later, Ksandek was in love. Her reverence for each ingredient’s source resonated with his background in terroir driven wines. They both also share a commitment to a fully visible food chain. He wears many hats in his roles played for Coquine, but all for the goal of sharing a truly great meal.