A mentor is rare in these days of long hours, high stress and constant interruption, especially in the restaurant business. A commercial kitchen atmosphere can be brutal, as we know from first person accounts like “Kitchen Confidential.” To find a mentor in this competitive arena requires a generous teacher and a bright student. Tucker Mortensen found his chef mentor in a family run, high end restaurant where he started his career washing dishes. Inquisitive and quick, Tucker soon found himself learning the basics of how to prepare fine cuisine under the stern eye of his chef boss. When his mentor died, the chef’s widow urged Tucker to get formal training in France at Le Cordon Bleu, one of the most prestigious cooking schools in the world.

Tucker went to France and attended Le Cordon Bleu while apprenticing for two years in a French pastry shop or patisserie. When he returned to Portland, Tucker’s experience provided entré into some of the best known pastry shops in the city, including St. Honoré and Papa Hayden’s. He then added more experience to his resume by working in several elite restaurants including, Lucier.

Ready to run his own establishment, Tucker opened Chef Tucker’s Patisserie, a classic French pastry shop offering a full breakfast and lunch. Dinner was soon added to the menu. But, expansion bred longer hours, more capital outlay and huge stress.

“Owning a restaurant is a huge commitment of time, energy and passion. It is one of the toughest jobs in the world,” explains Tucker.

Deciding to close the restaurant, Tucker then began a catering business with a focus on delivering innovative menus to regional wineries. However, this was seasonal business and he needed to support a new family.  Tucker desired a position where he could utilize his wealth of experience in catering while maintaining regular hours and salary. He found the opportunity with Global Aviation. Hired by Global’s Head Chef, Elaine Frances, Tucker will assist with aviation catering and special events. He also provides personal chef services when required.

“I like the challenge of creating menus for a broad range of tastes and diets,” states Tucker. “There is flexibility here for creativity and also for the chance to learn more about the business side of catering for an FBO. I would like to help expand the business with new clients and services.”

Tucker is married to Jennifer, who traveled to France and shared both his French pastry and life experiences there. They have a 20 month old daughter, Gloria. When he is not in the kitchen, Tucker enjoys road cycling, which he started a few years ago after knee surgery. “It’s a great stress reliever…when I can get out,” laughs Tucker.

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