Feast Portland, the whoa-this-is-serious new food festival backed by Bon Appetit magazine, kicked off last night in Portland's Director Park. The weekend includes seminars, tastings, demos, and fancy collaboration dinners between Portland chefs and their big-name counterparts from other cities. But the first event on the roster was the sandwich invitational, where 16 chefs took on this humble, yet obsessionworthy, staple. The line to get into this thing would even put the queues at Crumble and Flake to shame, stretching down two blocks right before doors opened.
Some contenders are known for their sandwiches, like the guys from Portland deli Kenny and Zuke's and while other chefs usually concern themselves with fancier fare. Ace of Cakes TV personality Duff Goldman whipped up a triple-pork take on the Egg McMuffin (yes, he did call it the Egg McDuffin). Despite the long line at his booth, still found time to to take photos with fans, flashing that bro-ey thumb-and-pinkie-extended hand gesture. Is there a name for that?
The sandwich invitational is Seattle's lone moment at Feast. Ethan Stowell and Molly Moon Neitzel both journeyed down I-5 to compete, the familiar blue of the Molly Moon's truck, an unexpected sight in a different city. Neitzel and company served up three silver dollar-sized ice cream sandwiches--melted chocolate, stumptown coffee and vanilla bean. They lost 600 of these tiny sandwiches in a freezer malfunction earlier in the week, forcing Neitzel to pull an ice cream sandwich all-nighter. This was the first time Neitzel and company had attempted sandwiches so tiny. And maybe the last after the freezer episode. Soft, pliant, noncrumbly cookies are key to ice cream sandwich perfection. Neitzel uses sour cream in hers.
Stowell and Staple and Fancy chef Branden Karow crafted a sandwich of pork belly porchetta, Bosc pear, and onion mostarda. Stowell apparently didn't get the memo that sandwiches were supposed to be tiny.
For the record, Beast chef Naomi Pomeroy won the night with a maple-glazed pork belly.