The third annual Feast Portland is underway. It kicked-off last night around 6 p.m. with the popular carbfest known as the Sandwich Invitational.
For me, I’m wrapping up a three-day pre-Feast media trip that has been more educational than I had imagined, the focus being on where many Portland chefs source their food and produce. There have been tastings at wineries, bike rides through farmland and zip lining through forests. It’s been exhausting, but also so interesting to get a different kind of taste of Oregon's bounty.
And that really was the gist of the whole trip: Feast is not so much about hedonistic eating and drinking (at least not intentionally), it’s a celebration of the chefs and farmers participating. That message was delivered loud and clear on the first stop on our trip during lunch Tuesday afternoon at Boondockers Farms in Beavercreek. There, in the middle of grazing cows and heritage breed ducks, chef Jason French of Ned Ludd prepared a family-style farm lunch using produce and meats from farmer Evan Gregoire. The menu featured grilled tomatoes with shirred duck eggs and salsa verde; Arcona duck, stewed beans and squash; and roasted peaches with sweet chevre. It was a feast.
French gave an impassioned talk at the table about how excited he is that food has emerged into its proper limelight after decades of being mostly thought of as a simple convenience (tv dinners, canned foods, etc.).
“You can see where people veered off,” he said, “and unfortunately, what I think wasn't kept in check was the aspect of food being so primary, so essential to who we all are—ethnically, regionally, demographically—but also, how are we taking care of ourselves and taking care of future generations?”
“No one has it easy because [farming] is tough business and the marketplace is really packed right now with a lot of high quality products and super talented people, but there's something in Oregon that Feast celebrates really well, which is someone's commitment to coming onto land and deciding to take a stand for themselves and what they believe in.”
Heading to Feast this weekend? Make sure to check out our survival guide.