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La Ruta PDX Moroccan Feast
a benefit for p:ear

6:30PM Friday, May 24th at PLAZA DEL TORO. 105 SE Taylor


Join us for dinner at PLAZA DEL TORO, as Toro Bravo Chef John Gorham and Chef Michael Kessler prepare a sumptuous 5-course meal inspired by their culinary travels to Morocco. Mediterranean Exploration Company and Shalom Y’All’s Magical Bar Mastermind, Jamal Hassan, will be mixing specially paired and crafted cocktails for each course, pushing the boundaries of the unique flavor profiles of this Moroccan Feast, with DJ Mixed Messages spinning your favorite tunes! Presented by La Ruta PDX.

PLAZA DEL TORO will donate 100% of proceeds to p:ear, a nonprofit creatively mentoring homeless youth in Portland. Tickets are not tax deductible.



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Photos from PLAZA DEL TORO Chef Michael Kessler’s recent trip to Morocco that inspired this feast.


About p:ear

p:ear builds positive relationships with homeless and transitional youth through education, art and recreation to affirm personal worth and create more meaningful and healthier lives.

p:ear regards youth homelessness as a critical human rights issue that needs to be addressed through a lens of dignity and respect. These youth come from a variety of backgrounds and often face debilitating challenges including familial abuse; mental health challenges; incarceration; sexual minority issues; substance abuse; mental, emotional, physical and sexual violence; failure of state care systems; absent or rotating caregivers. They enter young adulthood feeling victimized, isolated and distrustful. Their stories are not just personal tragedies, they are a tragedy for our entire community.

The youth at p:ear lack job and life skills, work experience, training and confidence to find meaningful ways to gainful employment. While many factors lead to their homelessness, the overwhelming contributor is a lack of connection to a supportive community. These kids deserve opportunities and experiences in which to gain the confidence, skills and pride required to establish necessary economic stability while transitioning into a contributing adult members of our community.

p:ear has identified a strong model for helping people end their homelessness. p:ear assists youth to recognize themselves as strong and capable people, while providing them with supportive relationships and engaging opportunities.

Besides providing a foundation of food and safety for these youth through the Food and Kitchen Program, p:ear has 3 Main Areas of Focus: Education, Arts and Recreation. From interdisciplinary custom workshops and mentoring to our p:ear works job training programs (including the p:ear barista school, p:ear prints and the bike mechanic school), youth are guided through increasing levels of depth, engagement and responsibility, with an emphasis on the social, fiscal and practical skills that will serve them in their future.

To learn more about p:ear visit

Chef John Gorham

John Gorham


John Gorham is Co-Owner and Executive Chef of iconic Portland restaurants Toro Bravo, Tasty n Daughters, Tasty n AlderMediterranean Exploration CompanyShalom Y'all, and PLAZA DEL TORO. Gorham believes that a chef’s cuisine and style is influenced by a trade route composed of travels, past work, cities lived in, and foods that their family made growing up. A ‘chef of the people’, Gorham celebrates a range of global cuisines at his influential restaurants; each with a unique identity but all embodying the quintessential Portland dining experience of family-style dishes, house-made charcuterie and seasonal sustainably-sourced ingredients.


Chef Michael Kessler

Michael Kessler

Chef de Cuisine

Michael began his culinary career volunteering part-time at a sushi bar on the weekends until he was good enough to accept the lofty title of “Sushi Apprentice” for $7 an hour and eventually became the head sushi chef at Aubergine in San Diego. 

After 15 years of sushi in the San Diego area, he left California for culinary school in Las Vegas, where he started working for his first Michelin-starred restaurant, the acclaimed Andre’s French Restaurant. From Andre’s he worked at Koi in Planet Hollywood, RM Seafood in Mandalay Bay, and opened Bar Masa in Las Vegas, which soon moved him to the 3 Michelin-starred Masa in New York. Michael went on to work for April Bloomfield, David Burke, and was a sous chef for Masaharu Morimoto. 

Kessler traveled to Portland with his wife for a two week visit in 2011 and never left. Michael says: “I’ve been looking for this job and this place for a long time. Found the right boss. The right job. The right city. Everything has just kind of come together in a perfect sequence of events.” 

In his spare time, Michael enjoys cycling, going to the gym, and preparing for the zombie apocalypse at Washington Park Archery Range.



a gastronomic society

PLAZA DEL TORO is a private event space, gastronomic society, and modern test kitchen in Portland, Oregon’s Central Eastside Industrial District created by restaurateur John Gorham, chef/owner of Portland’s celebrated Toro Bravo, Tasty n Daughters, Tasty n AlderMediterranean Exploration Company (MEC), Shalom Y'all, and Bless Your Heart Burgers. Gorham envisioned a space where he and his staff could have unconstrained culinary creativity as they develop new recipes for his properties, as well as experiment with new and innovative dinner concepts inspired by the legendary Portland supper club that Gorham founded, Simpatica, and the gastronomic societies of San Sebastian, Spain.

The beautiful 4,000-square-foot space can accommodate events of all kinds from a large-scale dinner for 90 guests to a cocktail party for 150. The beautifully renovated industrial space features an oyster bar, a professional DJ booth, and noise-dampening, double-paned, floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of passing trains. The kitchen boasts a large Combi oven and a six-foot grill with whole animal rotisserie inspired by Getaria, the mesquite grilling capital of Spain. PLAZA DEL TORO also serves as home base for pastry chef Ashley Claybaugh who develops all Gorham properties dessert programs. To inquire about hosting a private event, contact