Founded in 2003, Andina has emerged as one of the region’s leading Peruvian restaurants and continues to generate wide appeal within the food communities in and around Portland, as well as further afield. Andina draws inspiration from the native culinary traditions of Peru, as well as from the contemporary cooking of Peru’s leading chefs. Owner Doris Rodriguez de Platt collaborates with Andina’s kitchen team to develop a menu that celebrates her family’s Andean roots, interweaving the ideas and techniques of both Criollo and Novo-Andean cuisines.
As a cultural ambassador, Andina’s mission is to prepare both a table and a feast around which all guests can gather and find the warmth and richness of the Peruvian spirit in its truest forms. The dishes and flavors carry stories of their own; as do the music and art. Above all, the staff at large convey what is most essential about Peru: its profound hospitality, a delight in sharing its stories, and pride in presenting food born out of love.
Inspired by travels within Peru as well as by conversations with a fellow Peruvian in Oregon, Peter Platt founded and opened Andina in 2003. Within a few years, the restaurant welcomed the co-stewardship of his parents, John S. Platt and Doris Rodriguez de Platt, as well as his brothers, John (Jr.) and Victor. In many ways, the spirit of the restaurant resides in the family’s history, which began when John and Doris first met in Peru in the late 1960s.
The eldest of four siblings, Rodriguez de Platt came of age in the northern Andean city of Cajamarca, near to her ancestral homes of Sucre and Jose Galvez, two small villages in the province of Celendín. As a child, Doris saw and tasted the fruits of the seasonal harvest and partook in the preparation and celebration of food. Today, she shares her recollections and her joys with guests and staff at Andina. Many of these stories have been beautifully recorded in writing as well (see the Andina newsletter).
In the mid 1960s, Rodriguez completed her studies in Pharmacy at the University of Trujillo, and returned to Cajamarca – to the life and places she knew so well, including her childhood alma mater, Santa Teresita, where she went on to teach for several years. In 1967, Portland-native John Platt arrived in Cajamarca as a member of the Peace Corps. He was assigned to teach physics at the local university and English-language lessons at a community cultural center. Doris’ father and his four children attended John’s English lessons, and though brief and formal, this was John and Doris’ introduction. Two years later, in 1969, they met again, very briefly, at a summer science program in Lima. Then in 1972, they found themselves together as colleagues working at PRONAMEC, a UNESCO-funded science institute, in the adjacent departments of chemistry and physics. It was here that their courtship began, and in 1975, eight years after their first meeting, they married.
Their first two sons, John (Jr.) and Peter, were born in Lima. In 1978, when John and Doris moved to Oregon to raise their family, they carried toddlers who were fluent in Spanish, and spoke no English. In the year following, John Sr. began his graduate studies at Oregon State University and their youngest and third boy, Victor, was born. All three boys learned and relearned each of their parents’ native tongues.
Family visits to and from Peru remained a constant for the Platts and contributed to their growing sense of how much each culture could give to the other.
Today, John Platt (Jr.) teaches mathematics at the Lakeside School in Seattle, WA, following a long and happy tenure teaching at Portsmouth Abbey in Rhode Island. He has travelled with his students twice to work in rural communities in the Dominican Republic. A trip to Peru may one day come about. While continuing to provide the same dynamic and visionary leadership with which he started Andina nearly 10 years ago, Peter Platt took time to complete an MBA at the Yale School of Management. In creative collaboration with his family, management, staff and vendors, he leads Andina in its commitment as a social enterprise to build a more sustainable food system in both Portland and Peru. After two years spent working on small family farms in Alexandria, MN and Gales Creek, OR, Victor has returned to the restaurant as a manager of projects large, small and everything in between.
With master’s degrees from OSU in engineering physics and electrical and computer engineering, John Platt joined Hewlett-Packard in McMinnville (and later in Corvallis), where he worked until his retirement in 2005. He has now assumed the very full-time roles of being Andina’s Financial, IT and R&M Departments. Once her own children had entered college, Doris returned to teaching, offering Spanish language classes to Corvallis’ home-school community and at the local community college, where she continues teaching to this day. Her role and presence at Andina have never been less than essential: The strength of Doris’ connection to her home country serves as the keel and sail for the enterprise as a whole.
Through the rules of chemistry and the laws of physics, a woman from Peru and a man from Portland came together. Their marriage was not only that of two young people in love, but a melding of North and South American cultures, one which led to three children and, now, a special place called Andina.