Countdown to Feast Portland: The Inside Scoop

Ladies and gentlemen, we are only one week away from Feast Portland
Photo Credit: Bon Appetit
I recently shared some information about this world-class event and I’m getting very excited about attending next weekend. In preparation for Feast Portland, I had the privilege of chatting with one of the event’s founders, Carrie Welch. Honestly, I was a little nervous before our interview because it’s like “Hey, I’m a random person and I’m going to ask you some questions, mmmk?” However, Carrie’s passion for food and Portland immediately put me at ease and meant we had lots to talk about! I really enjoyed getting her inside perspective on Feast…here’s what she had to say:
Photo Credit: Feast Portland
JG: So what inspired you to start Feast?
CW: I moved to Portland three years ago, and it’s the incredible food scene that brought me here. After many years of living in New York City and working for Food Network, I really enjoyed being part of this community of creative artists in the food world who want to cultivate something original that tastes really good too. When I got out here, I originally thought I was going to open a restaurant in Portland, but many celebrity chefs I had gotten to know at Food Network strongly advised against that path. I ended up having a short stint as a server when I moved here in 2010, but quickly realized that I was much better at talking about food than serving it. While getting settled into life in Portland, I got coffee with Mike Thelin, a event producer who’s a mover and shaker in the food scene. I asked him when the “big” food festival was in Portland, and he said that Portland didn’t really have a flagship food festival. So that’s what got the ball rolling, and we decided to create this thing together. We really started working on Feast in 2011, and then the festival started last year, in 2012.
Photo Credit: Feast Portland
JG: Why have Feast in Portland?
CW: Portland is such an livable city that really has a closeness and intensity that you don’t find other places. One of our goals with Feast is to really show the country and the world what makes Portland awesome and exceptional and different. And not only that, Portland is a great city but outside the urban growth boundary is this whole amazing state of Oregon that has such a bounty of amazing ingredients and Feast really showcases that throughout the various events.
JG: Why childhood hunger?
CW: During my time with Food Network, I worked closely with Share Our Strength and their mission to end childhood hunger became a personal passion of mine. Feast Portland is such an over the top festival full of decadent food; it would be really senseless for the event not to have a larger purpose, especially in a place like Portland where people are so charitable and really want to give back to their community. Oregon is one of the top five hungriest states in the nation, so we were really glad to be able to donate $46K from our festival’s first year that went towards changing that.
Photo Credit: Feast Portland
JG: How has Feast event evolved in its second year?
CW: This year’s event is bigger and more expansive, which is really exciting. We’ve got chefs coming to Portland from a much larger geography than last year as well. A lot of the daytime events are showcasing different trends taking place in food, and they’re a great opportunity to learn. For example, one of the tasting panels is covering the topic “The Best Northwest Wines You Aren’t Drinking” where you can discover and learn about the variety of amazing wines being grown right here in Oregon. And then you can you can attend the evening events where those wines will be served and it really helps put these trends in a larger context. Our goal with Feast is to be sort of the SXSW of food, where we’re not only having an amazing event but also sparking a larger discussion. This year, we’ve got some awesome speakers lined up who will be talking about things like GMOs and the role food plays in the future of healthcare, and these are topics that people in Portland really care about.
Photo Credit: Feast Portland
JG: Wow, it sounds like it’s going to be a great weekend–are there any other events that you are particularly excited about?
CW: There are so many awesome events taking place over the course of the weekend, it’s hard to choose! I  already mentioned the Tasting Panels, but I think they’re really a hidden gem at Feast. For example, we’ve got a panel on “White Wines and the Shoreline” which is going to teach people about pairing white wines with the seafood, both of which are abundant here in Oregon. There’s another panel called “Baby Got Beer-Back” which is all about how bourbons pair with craft beers, something that’s a really growing trend. And then I’m am really excited for the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting, which is the giant tasting in Pioneer Square on Friday and Saturday. As the name suggests, it’s all about the abundance of incredible food and wine that we have here in Oregon. It’s really a “choose your own adventure” sort of event and one of the best ways to see and taste what Feast is all about. Plus, there’s a great line-up of chefs who will be doing demos during the Grand Tasting: 
Friday, September 20th
• 1-1:45pm – Jenn Louis, Lincoln Restaurant
• 2:30-3:15pm – Duff Goldman, Charm City Cakes
• 4-4:45pm – Matt and Ted Lee, The Lee Brothers

Saturday, September 21st
• 1-1:45pm – Naomi Pomeroy, Beast
• 2:30-3:15pm – Gabriel Rucker, Le Pigeon
• 4-4:45pm – Chris Cosentino, Incanto

Photo Credit: Feast Portland
JG: That sounds amazing! So what can a first-timer like me expect from attending Feast?
CW:  Do some stomach calisthenics! Feast is truly an opportunity to experience a lot of food you’ve probably never seen or tasted before. As a first-timer, it’s really important to pace yourself because there are so many incredible events to enjoy over the course of the weekend.
I really appreciate that Carrie took the time to speak with me about Feast, and now I’m even more pumped to check out all these awesome events that will be taking place in Portland next weekend! I’m really looking forward to the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting, and plan on going both days. You can find out more about this exciting event here, and tickets are still available. Don’t miss out on the fun! 

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