Stephanie Pearl Kimmel
A native of Texas, Stephanie grew up living and traveling around the world. Her father was a career Air Force pilot who was stationed in Japan, Europe and North Africa, as well as in many regions of the United States. Her parents, both enthusiastic cooks and cultural explorers, engendered in her a love and appreciation for diverse traditions, especially those involving food. Stephanie’s formal education was in English literature and French cultural history, with degrees from the University of Oregon and the Sorbonne. As a graduate student in comparative literature, she took her first restaurant job to help pay for educational expenses, and it was there that she discovered her true passion. Her lifelong interest in cooking evolved into her métier.
In 1972, she opened the Excelsior Café in Eugene, Oregon, pioneering a Northwest culinary movement with her use of seasonal menus that celebrated the bounty of the region. The restaurant was also the first in Oregon to feature the wines of the young Oregon wine industry. During her tenure there as chef and owner, the Excelsior Café was featured in many national, regional and local publications including Food & Wine, Gourmet, Travel and Leisure, Bon Appétit, The New York Times and Sunset.
After selling the Excelsior Café in the spring of 1993, Stephanie took an extended trip to France to explore the regional markets and vineyards, an experience that further sharpened her focus and commitment to market-oriented cooking. In the fall of 1993, she was chosen by King Estate Winery to develop an intensive culinary department as an integral part of their national marketing plan. Her responsibilities as culinary director included supervising a full-scale hospitality program; planning the organic vegetable and flower garden, berry patches and orchards; developing a line of food products from the property; doing food and wine events around the country; and writing about food and wine pairing.
In 1995, Stephanie compiled and edited the King Estate Pinot Gris Cookbook, and received highly favorable reviews in a number of food and wine publications. In 1996, she followed up with the King Estate Pinot Noir Cookbook. Stephanie was the culinary director of a 13-part cooking series called New American Cuisine, which has been shown on public television stations nationwide. New American Cuisine was nominated for the prestigious James Beard Award for best national cooking series in 1997.
In 1997, Stephanie turned her attention to downtown Eugene and the historic Fifth Street Market complex. She opened the casual, French-inspired Marché Café in December of 1997. Marché, a full-service restaurant and bar serving market-driven regional cooking, opened to an enthusiastic audience in September of 1998. Since then, the restaurant has flourished under Stephanie’s care and emerged as one of the Pacific Northwest’s culinary destinations. In 2006, she proudly opened Marché Provisions, a european-style food emporium that includes housemade ice cream, pizza, espresso, charcuterie, a line of specialty foods, retail accessories and a wine bar. The opening of the Inn at the 5th in 2012 began another new chapter for Stephanie and Marché, with an expanded bar, the addition of breakfast service at Marché, and room service for Inn guests.
Stephanie is active in the community, having served on a variety of boards and commissions over the course of her career. She was a representative on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, and a board member for the International Pinot Noir Celebration, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, the Oregon Truffle Festival and the Oregon Restaurant Association–in addition to being an active member of the Chefs Collaborative and Slow Food. Most recently, she has turned her attention to school food advocacy, working to bring Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools program to Eugene’s schools, and improve school lunches throughout the district.
Throughout her career, Stephanie has been recognized as a pioneer in the movement to support and celebrate regional, seasonal cuisine. She was a finalist for a James Beard Award in 2006, and honored for lifetime achievement by Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, the Cascadia Culinary Conference and many more.