When Jehnee Rains ’93 opened Portland’s finest creperie, Suzette, on Southeast Belmont Street in 2012, she brought with her a certain visual aesthetic—wry and wonderstruck and informed, it seems, by bemused chats outside Reed’s beloved studio art building. In the front window of Suzette, there’s an ancient typewriter and an adding machine. Inside, there is a jumble of red leather theatre chairs and church pews, making, somehow, for a pleasant and homey refuge.
Jehnee was an art major at Reed, a painter who did works in oil on glass. But after graduation, as she made plans to pursue an MFA, she got a job in a bakery. “I never looked back,” she says. “When I was painting, I always struggled with what I wanted to paint. But with baking, I always knew what I wanted to eat and explore.” Suzette’s menu is at once curious and cosmopolitan. The Goat Fig Pig crepe, for instance, combines goat cheese, marsala-soaked figs, and prosciutto. The Smoked Salmon Afrique is filled with a roasted garlic-chickpea spread and harissa. And every crepe at Suzette is infused with a little enchantment. “There is something very compelling to baking,” says Jehnee. “You take some raw ingredients—sugar and eggs, say—and then you heat them and something magical happens. You suddenly have a birthday cake, a crepe, a pie: You’ve made something new.”