Portland is a world-class food city, no question. Every time we visit, I’m impressed with the restaurants, the quality of the farmers market and with the humbleness of its chefs. While Feast Portland is a mainly a celebration of Oregon food and wine, the event attracts chefs and purveyors from the across the country. The city is a gracious host, happy to bring its sister city just up I-5, into the national limelight.
The Seattle contingent at this year’s event included Chefs Alex Barkley (Manolin), Tom Douglas (Dahlia Lounge & more), Edouardo Jordan (Salare), Mutsuko Soma (Kamonegi) and Rachel Yang (Trove, Joule, Revel), as well as Rachel’s Ginger Beer, Dry Sparkling, and Grand Central Bakery. While most Seattle chefs participated in Feast’s dinner series over the course of the four-day festival, Douglas joined two of the event’s marquee evening events, Sandwich Invitational and Night Market.
At Friday’s Grand Tasting, Chef Tom Douglas and Portland’s Vitaly Paley sat down with the Oregonian’s Michael Russell to hash out whether Pacific Northwest cuisine is a real thing and to share some observations about the food scenes in Seattle and Portland.
The consensus: More than dishes, Pacific Northwest cuisine is about ingredients. Paley described Portland as a very homemade city with a strong DIY culture. As a result, he sees Portland’s ingredient-driven approach as an avenue for creativity, unbounded by culinary traditions.
Douglas pointed to salmon as the heart and soul of Pacific Northwest cuisine and talked about the importance of “eating wild to save wild.” Douglas has been a vocal proponent of protecting sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska. “Northwest cuisine is about protecting the species still left, trying to revive the ones we’ve eco’ed out of existence, and being a partner in our food chain, rather than just taking advantage of the food chain,” he said.
At Thursday’s night’s Sandwich Invitational, Douglas served a nearly vegetarian sandwich featuring Dahlia Bakery pecan flax bread with a chanterelle peperonata, charred eggplant and zucchini pickles from Prosser Farm where Tom’s wife Jackie grows something like 100,000 lbs. of produce each year.
Other Seattle highlights include: