Chef/Co-Owner of Coquine
Katy Millard is chef and co-owner of Coquine, an ambitious, full service restaurant and neighborhood café in Portland, Oregon serving a sophisticated, unfussy menu in a distinctive yet welcoming space. Millard’s foundation in French technique brings focus and intention to her cooking; striving for consistency, perfection and purpose in every dish. Her playful, casual style shines through to create unpretentiously elegant food you can – and want to – eat every day.
Millard was born in Zimbabwe to a Portuguese mother and a father who lived in Africa most his life. She spent her childhood in Alabama and New Orleans, and both the global and domestic influences can be seen in striking ways in her cuisine. Millard’s parents have always been great home cooks, instilling in her a passion for cooking from a young age, as well as the need for a great herb garden wherever she lives.
Though she had worked in restaurants since high school, Millard began the classical training of her culinary career in Paris at age 22. During her last semester of college, a house fire left her with few belongings, so she decided to buy a one-way ticket to Portugal (where she has dual citizenship) and backpack across Europe until she ran out of money, expecting to stay only a few months. When her father was in Paris for a conference, they met for lunch at the Michelin–stared Guy Savoy restaurant, and after an inspiring meal and some encouragement from her dad, she said to Chef Savoy in broken French, “I want to work for you, I’ll wash your dishes.” Savoy did not let her wash the dishes, but he did let her stage and then gave her a job at his bistro.
Her time at the bistro under the tutelage of the Chef de Cuisine was instrumental in her growth as a chef. She then got a job with Michelin-star chef Michele Troisgros, a pioneer in French cuisine who taught her how to incorporate acidity to brighten and balance a dish. Over the next five years, Millard cooked her way through some of the best fine dining kitchens in Europe including Mirabeau in Monaco and Le Château de la Chèvre d'Or in Eze.
In 2008, Millard moved to San Francisco, and at the recommendation of a friend reached out to Chef Daniel Patterson of Coi where she worked as sous chef a year and half and later helped him open Plum. Millard moved to Oregon in 2010 where she worked in respected kitchens including Bollywood Theater, Sauvage, and The Woodsman Tavern. Oregon is also where she met her husband, Ksandek Podbielski, who now leads the stellar beverage program and approachable front of house service at Coquine. The two were serendipitously paired next to each other at a Portland Taste Of The Nation event in 2011 and bonded over a shared history of world travels and passion for food and drink.
With Millard’s culinary mind and Podbielski’s encyclopedic wine knowledge and natural penchant for hospitality, the couple hosted a celebrated pop-up dinner series called Coquine for three years in Portland until they found the perfect brick-and-mortar space to open their restaurant by the same name in summer 2015. The French word “coquine” is a lighthearted chide for a mischievous little girl or means something a bit more flirtatious when said to a grown up. With Millard and Podbielski grounded in their dream restaurant, Coquine the restaurant embodies this feeling – the location, the ambiance, the drinks and the cuisine emanate charm and confidence but always with a playful wink.