Table Talk: Boris Portnoy

Table Talk: Boris Portnoy

Boris Portnoy is the owner and creative director of Gray and Gray Bread and Wine — restaurant and wine bar that masquerades as lawyer’s office in Northcote, Melbourne. Boris has kept the wine bar’s original shop front complete with vertical blinds and gold lettering that reads ‘Gray & Gray Barristers & Solicitors’, creating a tongue-in-cheek energy that filters through to the Russian and Georgian-inspired menu.

As a child growing up in Moscow, Boris always knew he wanted to be a chef. After moving to the United States, Boris set aside his aspirations to study economics, and moved through Michelin star studded restaurants going on to win several awards as a pastry chef. Fuelled by a desire to move away from the fine-dining world, he realised that what he wanted was to create a place that served the community and opened All Are Welcome Bakery.


What makes Gray and Gray a special place to dine? 

At the wine bar we don't have a precedent of other wine bars that serve food of the Black sea, meaning we are free to set our path without any expectations.


Tell us about the recipe featured in your Food For Everyone poster - Georgian Village Fowl.

Such a simple concept; take village chicken, boil it until it is tender, which depends on the age of the bird, cover it with fragrant walnut paste, boil an egg and serve it all together. Most of these ingredients are easily purchased and as long as one has a rock and a bowl to mash the walnuts into a paste, and a way to boil water. It can all be made without the comfort of a kitchen and serve a dish that shows a commitment to flavour over appearances.



What is one of your happiest food memories?  

Once while I was camping, I refused to fetch water for my parents. In turn they said that I would need to fend for my own dinner. I mark this specific evening as the 'a-ha' moment when I learned that cooking for myself meant a freedom from conscription to chores.



Favourite season for produce? 

Stone fruit season hands down is the best season — fruit is life!



What are your most trusted kitchen tools? 

Sharp knife, a pressure cooker, and a Microplane