France is famous for its art, literature, fine cuisine and opinionated people like my great uncle Gilbert, or Gilby as I call him. He was born in the Northeast of France in the Alsace region. Some things he loved to do as a child were to play le Belon et le Prisonier, which means the ball and the prisoner. It’s sort of like tag. His dream was to come to the States and play cowboys and Indians or join the mafia. These dreams were formed by watching US TV reruns. Fortunately, these dreams did not come true. As a child, Gilbert also wanted to be President of the world but instead went to trade school to learn how to be a chef and sausage maker. Gilby learned to cook some of the dishes that France is famous for, like escargot (snails), truffles, creme brulee. His house growing up was made of stucco-like most of the houses around France.
Gilbert moved to the US when he was 27 years old to be with his future wife Susan, my great aunt. His most prized possession was his saxophone. He played it a lot when he first came to the US, he wouldn’t have left France without his saxophone. Once he arrived in Portland he found that the climate in Oregon was the same, which was surprising to him because he thought it would be different. But it turns out the seasons are the same in France as they are in Oregon. Perfect weather for his other passion, cycling. He can ride for miles and miles. Gilbert opened a French seafood restaurant in Portland and after several years he closed it and moved to the Oregon wine country. He ended up in Carlton and opened another restaurant called Cuvee. Today Gilbert lives in his happy home with Susie and his dog Duncan. You can find him either on the road riding his bike or most likely at the restaurant any time of day serving up French dishes like creme brulee, escargot along with champagne and cheese! And of course, his strong French opinion!
– Written by Chef Gilbert Henri’s 9-year-old niece Riley