Working two jobs from the age of 19, Executive Chef Alex Diestra attributes his deliberate rise in the restaurant business to hard work and good luck; although the two jobs approach was more about wanting to learn and get more training than needing the work. With this strategy, Alex found himself in great kitchens with fantastic mentors, including Indonesian Chef Richard Van Rossum, who hosted a 2001 James Beard dinner in NYC with Alex at his side. James Porter of Petite Maison in Scottsdale, Arizona is also an inspiration and a great friend to Alex. Yet he cites his mother – a great cook – for having the most influence on him. With her appreciation for traditional methods, she coaxes distinct flavors from quality ingredients and makes bright, delicious, always memorable dishes.
This hands-on experience is complemented by Alex’s formal training at the Western Culinary Institute, now Le Cordon Bleu, in Portland. Alex has been a leader in the kitchen at Saucebox for years, working closely with Chef Gregory Gourdet and Chef Jason Neroni before he took the helm in early 2011.