It’s one of the country’s newest food fests, having just completed its third year. But Feast Portland quickly became the most buzzed-about eating orgy in the nation. Though 2014 is a wrap, here are 8 reasons why it will be next year’s hottest ticket, too.
1. Collaborative cooking! Each year, Portland locals pair up with visiting chefs for one-of-a-kind, multi-course dinners. This year’s roster read like fantasy football in the kitchen, with Departure’s Gregory Gourdet welcoming NYC’s Anita Lo and Pichet Ong; San Francisco’s Charles Phan teaming with Andy Ricker at Sen Yai for a “DIY feast;” Louisville’s Edward Lee partnering with Jenn Louis at Lincoln, preparing an onslaught of meat cooked in a caja China; Chicago’s Paul Kahan, James Beard Foundation Best Chef honoree, with Jason French at Nedd Ludd, among others.
2. Anything can happen at the kickoff event, the annual Sandwich Invitational, which welcomes 14 chefs to compete for title of “best sandwich.” You might be standing on line behind, oh, Ruth Reichl for Cathy Whims’ lamb ham sandwich or Paul Kahan’s gyro. And an ice cream sandwich might take the prize (which it did). Salt & Straw’s PB & J, peanut butter Cap n’ Crunch ice cream, whipped cream and jam wedged between buttered bread took the People’s Choice prize. Local Russian spot Kachka took the Judges’ Prize with smoked sprat, egg and sour cream on fried toast.
3. The after-parties. And the after-after parties. And the after-after-after parties. For those who craved no sleep, the entire weekend was one long party. After Sandwich Invitational, roasted pig’s heads served as the evening’s décor during “Pork of Ages” at Rontom. There was a hot dog cart, a photo booth, and plenty of baskets to shoot at Spirit of ’77 on Friday night; and nachos with caviar stole the show on Saturday at the Eater “Go Out Big” party at Cooper’s Hall.
4. Night Market’s new setting at Zidell Yards turned on a slew of people to a burgeoning, riverside neighborhood. The former shipyard will be connected in 2015 with Portland’s new Tilkum Crossing, “Bridge of the People,” a car-free span for pedestrians, cyclists and streetcars. It was also the site of some of the most original, tasty food of the weekend: Jose Chesa’s rabbit pintxos, with Serrano ham, nori, and ginger-soy aioli; Andina’s alfajores, cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche; Brad Farmerie’s blood popsicle with chili jam and peanut powder; and Clear Creek Distillery’s whiskey cocktail based on duck sauce.
More delicious moments from Feast Portland, next...