Chef & Owner Vitaly Paley: Paley’s Place,  Imperial, The Crown & Headwaters

Chef & Owner Vitaly Paley: Paley’s Place,

Imperial, The Crown & Headwaters



Critically acclaimed chef, accomplished restaurateur, and noted cookbook author Vitaly Paley has cemented his place as a leader in the American culinary scene and a trailblazer within the fast-growing Portland, Ore. food community through his award-winning food, unmatched creativity, and superior technique. With some 25 years experience, a 2005 James Beard Award for “Best Chef Pacific Northwest,” and an April 2011 winning battle on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” under his belt, the Russian-born and French-trained Paley believes cooking is as much about soul searching and mood as it is about rigorous technique and constant repetition. As the chef and co-owner of Paley’s Place Bistro & Bar – consistently recognized as one of America’s Top Restaurants by Zagat – as well as Imperial and Portland Penny Diner, Vitaly has been instrumental in defining regional Northwest cuisine and is well-known for his clean preparations of local, sustainably-grown ingredients to produce seasonal, perfectly-executed dishes. Imperial was named one of 2013’s Top 11 Barbecue and Grill Restaurants in the Nation by Huffington Post’s Steve Raichlen and, one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Bars in America for 2013, with the article highlighting the bar’s “clever culinary twists to drinks.” Always creating, Paley returned to his childhood roots with a series popular Russian pop up dinners in 2014 called DaNet, which contributed led to Portland Monthly’s Restaurant Critic Karen Brooks naming Russian “Cuisine of the Year.”

Born near Kiev in the former Soviet Union, food has always played a special role in Vitaly’s life as he was raised on extraordinary and wholesome meals prepared by his grandmother with fresh ingredients – tomatoes and strawberries straight from the garden, milk from the weekly delivery, handmade cheese, among others. Vitaly and his parents immigrated to the United States in the late 1970s for a chance at a better life and more opportunity. The artist-like touch Vitaly now brings to cooking stems from his extensive training as a concert pianist. After attending The Julliard School Vitaly decided to shift his focus away from music to food. He landed at World Yacht Cruises where he met French Master Chef Michele Bordeaux who encouraged him to continue his culinary education. Vitaly then earned a Grand Diploma from the French Culinary Institute where he was personally influenced by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin and then honed his skills under a diverse group of some of the best culinary talents in the industry including Danny Meyer, Michael Romano, and Francesco Antonucci. He and wife Kimberly together apprenticed at the two-star Michelin restaurant Moulin de la Gorce near Limoges, France. 

When a basket of perfect morel mushrooms arrived all the way from Oregon, they knew it was a sign. Upon returning home to New York, they were at once lured to Oregon by the bounty of Pacific Northwest in the fall of 1994. In February 1995, they realized their dream and opened Paley’s Place, which boasts Vitaly’s seasonally inspired American menu with Southern French and Northern Italian influences along with an acclaimed wine program run by Kimberly who also serves as the restaurant’s general manager. Vitaly also developed Handmade at Paley’s Fruit & Nut Bars through which he re-energized the “typical” sports bar with new flavors and wholesome organic ingredients. Served to complement cheese or enjoyed on their own, the unique bars are now sold at select specialty stores nationwide.

In October 2008, Vitaly and Kimberly published their first cookbook, The Paley’s Place Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from the Pacific Northwest (Ten Speed Press). Well-matched wine pairings, evocative photography and features on local food producers round out the book, which has received both national and local media recognition including “Best Regional Cookbook” ( and “Top 15 Cookbooks of 2008” (AOL Food).

Vitaly Paley and Vitaly Paley Restaurants have earned recognition in national media outlets including Food & Wine Empire Builders 2012, Saveur Magazine’s “Top 100,” The New York Times, appearing on The Martha Stewart Show, Wall St. Journal, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Wine Enthusiast, GQ, Oprah Magazine, USA Today, Travel & Leisure and Food Arts as well as local support and accolades from local media outlets such as The Oregonian, Portland Monthly, Willamette Week, and Wine Press NW. 

In addition to the above-mentioned accolades, Vitaly was nominated as a 2012 and 2013 James Beard Foundation Semifinalist for Outstanding Chef and was named the 2011 Portland Rising Stars "Chef Mentor of the Year” exemplifying his dedication to giving back to the culinary community. He has been featured at industry events including dinners for the James Beard Foundation, the International Pinot Noir Celebration, and International Association of Culinary Professionals while also devoting time to countless national, regional and Portland-based charity events.

Follow Vitaly Paley on Twitter @ChefVitalyPaley & Instagram: