Feast came and, like Fernet Branca zipping through an ice luge, it went. Chefs and hungry attendees alike descended upon Portland for the weekend-long food festival that spanned Rose City. Deputy dining editor Allecia Vermillion and myself (associate editor and Nosh Pit captain, if you must know) both made the southernly trek. We came, we saw, we have some takeaways...
Allecia Vermillion: I know the main events pack a lot of big chef names for the money, but if you actually want to interact with some of these badass chefs, it’s much easier to do so when they’re not head-down prepping (literally) 1,000 bites for people. The dinner series events have a significant price tag, but where else will you see Dominique Crenn lead an Aretha Franklin singalong, then instigate a full-on dance party with co-chefs Emma Bengtsson and Kristin Murray?
Rosin Saez: I’m not sure, probably heaven? Also of a divine nature: Maya Lovelace’s golden fried chicken alongside Dana Frank’s lineup of lambrusco at Bar Norman, Dana’s natural wine bar that opened this summer. Maya was frying chicken on the sidewalk like a boss, then she’d bring it to folks inside. She also made caviar-topped biscuits. And—what an actual angel on earth—it was her birthday.
AV: I also dig the somewhat-recent addition of the fun-size events, because chefs get to run with a more focused theme than at the marquee bite-dispensing extravaganzas and put out some really good food.
RS: Right, like Austin barbecue deity Aaron Franklin came and did a fun-size cookout, where it legit felt like a friend’s party. You had your tray, went through an almost cafeteria-like line, except instead of lunch ladies the city’s best chefs were serving you then and there—Aaron sliced you some brisket, Maya Lovelace doled out collards—it’s a much more homey dining experience than the main food events.
AV: How have I lived 39 years on this earth without eating a katsu hot dog? Ravi Kapur's (Liholiho Yacht Club in San Francisco) housemade spam katsu dog with kimchi and a King’s Hawaiian bun lingers in my happiest of dreams.
RS: It was so good, I hit that booth twice—and stomach real estate at food fest’s is as precious (and perhaps as volatile) as Seattle’s housing market.
AV: The Instagram bait just gets better every year (see: Beatrice Inn’s downright medieval row of chained-up Wagyu tomahawks dangling over flames at Smoked!).
RS: By nightfall I saw those tomahawks devoured by groups of usually four people passing around the aforementioned smoked meat batons like it was end times. Or, rather, it was getting very Medieval Times—but with a lot of neon signage!