Feast! We’ve seen the logo, heard talk of it and now that it’s less than a month away, it’s time to get serious about the festival. Between September 20-23, the whole world will be arriving in Portland to celebrate the bounty of Food City U.S.A. (That’s right Portland is to Food as Nashville is to music). Chefs, Authors and Cookbookers Duff Goldman, Mark Bittman, Gabrielle Hamilton, Amanda Freitag, Nancy Silverman and other foodarazzi will be joining locals chefs and food artisans, including PFM’s Sarah Hart from Alma Chocolates and Eric Finley of Chop along with PFM alumni Cheryl Wakerhauser (Pix) and Rodney Muirhead (Podnahs) for good food all the while talking about what to eat next.
The events range from seeing Mark Bittman (NY Times/Cooking Channel) speak about the Future of Food at the Schnitz (Tickets start at $15; Thanks Literary Arts!) to full-on dinner series that will leave participants talking about these meals for years to come, all featuring the bounty and talent of Portland. The full schedule can be seen here and you can check for the availability of tickets here.
Feast founders Carrie Welch and Mike Thelin took a few minutes from organizing the first annual Feast (they’ll be back next year) to talk about what makes Portland special, where they developed their taste buds and which small part of Portland’s food scene they would show to our out of town guests.
With people coming in from all over the country to cook with local talent and local ingredients, is our secret as N. America’s premiere food destination out of the bag?
Mike: I wouldn’t say the secret is out as much as the reputation for Portland and great food is growing and continues to grow—and the timing is great. Right now the entire nation happens to be obsessed with food, and that’s the thing that Portland does best—both by virtue of its natural bounty, and the fact that there are many talented people here growing and making food and drink. Food is a conversation between nature and culture, and Feast Portland aims to celebrate that. It’s our opportunity to play host.
Carrie: The secret is out of the bag, but in a great way. The world is discovering how amazing the food, drink, ingredients, and creativity around all of the above is in Portland and our city is on the map. Feast Portland aims to make Portland the center of the food universe for one weekend each year and bring in chef collaborators to elevate and expand it all for a few days and have fun around food.
Where are you from, how is the Portland Food different from where you grew up?
Mike: I grew up in rural Oregon picking berries and fishing. We had a next door neighbor from Korea who taught my mother to make kim chi, and a family friend from Syria who shared her recipes for stuffed grape leaves, tabouli, and lamb. Nature provided the goods, the social circle the know-how. Portland, like all great food cities, are the same on a bigger level. We have amazing products, and lots of talented people with different ideas about how to prepare them. Our food is a reflection of us.
Carrie: I’m from Connecticut, an East Coast girl at heart. I grew up with parents who owned their own business, worked out of our house and a mom who put a full dinner on the family table almost every night. There was only one farmers market and you had to seek it out, but my mom always did and as kids we ate our wheat germ on our cereal in the morning but were allowed Entemann’s chocolate chip cookies in the afternoon. It’s all about balance! Food in Portland is much closer to the farms it came from than where I grew up which is still amazing to me. The farmers markets here are unlike anything I’ve seen before, and the care everyone takes with food is.
What event are you most looking forward to?
Mike: There are many great events, but the most unique is probably the Whole Foods Market Speakers Series at the Gerding Theatre on Saturday the 22nd. There will be a great line-up of thinkers examining America’s food culture—from Lucky Peach founder Chris Ying to Gabrielle Hamilton to Sean Brock to Randy Gragg. For food geeks, this is not be missed.
Carrie: I am looking forward to Feast Portland, in its entirety, happening. This is something we’ve worked on with an incredible team of people for over a year and it’s go time.
Question 4. Lightning Round
Beer or Wine; bread or cheese; chopsticks or fork; espresso or pour over?
Mike: I love both beer and wine, Definitely cheese over bread, usually a fork, and always an espresso.
Carrie: Wine, preferably white. Cheese, preferably stinky. Fork, although I love chopsticks. Pour over, discovered them when I moved here and they are the best cups of coffee I have ever had.
With all the notables coming from out of town, if you could show one person, one Portland food, who would you take and where would you take them?
Mike: I’d love to take Sean Brock for fried chicken at Country Cat.
Carrie: I’d like to take Duff Goldman to Bunk Sandwiches or Bunk Bar and reunite him with his rightful Portland family.