As passionate about slow-cooked pot roast and homemade pie as she is about perfectly seared scallops, Lisa Schroeder is a mother, grandmother, chef, restaurateur and author devoted to providing better-than-authentic renditions of traditional home-cooked dishes at one of Portland’s most popular restaurants, Mother’s Bistro & Bar.
In 1992, while juggling a marketing career, catering and raising her daughter, Lisa realized there was no place that served the kind of food she would make if she had the time. She concluded what the world needed was a place which served “Mother Food”—slow-cooked dishes, such as braises and stews, made with love. From that moment on, Lisa was determined to open such a restaurant and spent the next eight years working toward that dream.
Lisa soon gave up her business career and enrolled at The Culinary Institute of America. While there, she was selected as one of the Top Ten Student Chefs in America by Food and Wine Magazine. After graduating with honors in 1995, she continued honing her skills at two four-star restaurants in New York City – Lespinasse and Le Cirque. Her education continued with apprenticeships in Provence, France at Roger Verge’s Moulin des Mougins and at Mark Veyrat’s L’Auberge de L’Eridan in Haute Savoie. In addition to this invaluable training, she toured France, Italy, Spain, Morocco and Switzerland where she gained an understanding of regional cuisine and indigenous products, affirming her belief that some of the best regional meals are not found in restaurants, but in homes, made by mothers.
Searching for a new beginning, Lisa returned to the states and relocated to Portland, Oregon in 1998. She was the Chef at Besaw’s Café for two years while continuing to plan her restaurant-to-be; gathering and testing recipes, refining her menu, and planning her décor when she was away from the stove.
In 2000, Chef Schroeder’s dream came true when she opened Mother’s Bistro & Bar in downtown Portland to rave reviews, receiving the “Restaurant of the Year” award from Willamette Week. Drawing on classic cooking techniques combined with years of experience, her menu offers refined versions of traditional home-cooked dishes. Much more than simply comfort food, this “mother food” is based on made-from scratch, slow-cooked recipes, utilizing the best available ingredients. In addition, Lisa celebrates the cuisine of a different mother each month, lovingly referred to as the “Mother of the Month” (or “M.O.M.”) menu.
In 2002, Mother’s Bistro & Bar was recognized by Food & Wine Magazine as one of America’s Top Restaurant Bargains. With lines literally out the door on weekends, it came as no surprise in 2004 when Mother’s Bistro & Bar was voted Best Brunch by Portland Monthly Magazine, Willamette Week and Citysearch.
In 2009, Lisa released her critically-acclaimed cookbook, Mother’s Best, and appeared on the Today Show, QVC and along with many others. She is the recipient of the Portland Business Journal’s Businesswoman of the Year award and IACP Chef/Restaurateur Award of Excellence. Chef Schroeder nurtures her community as well as her guests. She is a member of the Downtown Portland Retail Council, Chef’s Collaborative, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, Slow Food, and International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). Lisa participates in numerous charities and causes including Share Our Strength, The Oregon Food Bank, Basic Rights Oregon, Our House, the Raphael House and Bradley Angle House.