Early this year, Ingrid Rohrer moved to Central Oregon with her husband. Her story isn't uncommon: Her husband likes to hunt and fish, and they both wanted to get away from city traffic. The change—and the opportunity to take over as head chef at the upscale restaurant 10 Below—also was a chance for her to be more particular and precise with her cooking. And, she adds, "A chance to challenge Central Oregon eaters."
A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Rohrer brings with her a San Francisco sophistication in her food choices—a style that matches well with 10 Below's chic appeal. But she also has a down-to-earth sensibility, which also matches area diners' sensibilities. An early adopter of organic ingredients with restaurants a quarter-century ago in Santa Cruz and Carmel, Calif., Rohrer has stayed true to that farm-fresh and flavorful approach to cooking. About a decade ago, though, she moved into a corporate position with the massive catering company, Bon Appetit, preparing meals for Intel employees in Hillsboro. She was there for eight years before deciding to return to her cooking roots.
Now, almost a half-year into her new position, Rohrer is "settling into a routine," she says. The transition has been a big shift, but welcome. She went from a 70-person staff to 10, and from high-traffic lunch service to precise, delicate dinner preparation. "It is interesting to go from 1,500 a day, to going back to fine dining," she explains.
That change seems to better fit her style and attitude.
"I'm laid back, but particular about food," she insists.
Rohrer has wiped clean the menu at 10 Below, and replaced most of the dishes with "high-end comfort food with an ethnic twist," primarily Thai and Indian influenced. (Although, she admits, she brought back 10 Below standards, bread pudding and BTLA, a popular bacon, lettuce, avocado sandwich on grana padano pamesan toast.)
For the Bite of Bend, Rohrer was cagey about the exact meal she will serve, but offered that it will be "out of the box," and even tipped her hand a bit to say it will be "a wild game dinner."
Top Chef Competition
Noon, Saturday June 28 and Sunday June 29
Minnesota Avenue, Bend