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IACP Co-chairs Talk About Why Portland Matters to Food World

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In just over a week, the foodie world will descend on Portland for the International Association of Culinary Professionals' annual carnival. EaterPDX checked in with Portland conference co-chairs Mike Thelin (above right) and Ken Rubin (left) to get the latest and greatest.

What does it matter to Portland that IACP is in town?

Mike Thelin: In the food world, the nation looks toward Portland. And for one week, the world of food will come to Portland. It’s excitement around food, the pleasure of eating, and a strong reminder of why we even bother with it all in the first place. Eating things that taste good reminds us all how great it is to be a human being, but when you reunite colleagues in a place like Portland, who is at the table becomes just as important as what’s on it. In the case of IACP, the table just happens to include some of the most influential food photographers, writers, authors, thought leaders, and marketing professionals in the world.


Ken Rubin: You could be having breakfast and meet a photographer from Sicily, and after 10 minutes over orange juice and coffee, you find that you both share same favorite Polish bakery in Chicago. When you bring together people whose primary passion and reason for getting out of bed in the morning is food in a dynamic food town like Portland, the response is visceral and magic.

Which celebrities are coming to Portland?

Thelin: On top of all the talent we have here, more than 1,000 are coming from more than 40 countries. From Julia Child’s editor Judith Jones to the always delightful Madhur Jaffrey, to New York Times writer Kim Severson and renowned authors Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, whose Flavor Bible is one of the greatest books on food ever. Ruth Reichl changed the game in how (and which) restaurants are professionally reviewed in this country, and she’ll be here too. So will Michael Ruhlman, Deborah Madison, and more.

Rubin: There are also amazing people that you might not have heard of whose stories are rich and incredible. There’s the provocative Bryant Terry, a cook and writer who has redefined African-American Southern cuisine to a butcher from France who has helped train many Portlanders—including our own Camas Davis.

You mentioned marketing professionals.

Thelin: If you spend any time in the food world, you start noticing that most successful food writers and marketing professionals are often IACP members. I first learned about IACP when I worked with local marketing strategist Lisa Donoughe, who actually also introduced me to Ken.

Who else locally are members?

Rubin: Our collective mentor Robert Reynolds has been a longtime member. Portland’s Emily Crumpacker and Janie Hibler were among the founders. Food photographer John Valls, Mix editor Martha Holmberg, In Good Taste's Barbara Dawson, chef Cathy Whims, writer and educator Heidi Yorkshire. The list is long.

What happens at conference and why should the general public care?

Rubin: IACP is where cookbooks are born. It’s the only place you can get people from every discipline in the world of food to talk about contemporary issues—from heads of large corporations to that butcher from Gascony.

Thelin: The opportunities can literally change the course of your life, and the outcomes of conference affect what you eat and read—regardless of whether you even attend. And this year, the backdrop just happens to be Portland.

Are there any events open to the public?

Rubin: For the first time in our history, yes! You can get tickets for the Cookbook Expo here, a book signing featuring 50 cookbook and food writers—from Ruth Reichl, to Madhur Jaffrey to Lisa Schroeder, who owns Mother's Bistro and Mama Mia’s Trattoria, to Diane Morgan, a prolific Portland writer who has authored 16 cookbooks. Best of all, it’s only $10.
There’s also a fundraising dinner for the Culinary Trust hosted by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page featuring Naomi Pomeroy, Jason French, Adam Sappington, plus wines by Erath and Willamette Valley Vineyards. [More on the dinner from EaterPDX here.]

The IACP was here in 1998?

Thelin: And it changed Portland. Chefs still talk about Julia Child in their restaurant. That one conference and its impact did more for Portland’s reputation as a food town than any other single item. And whether you participate, attend, volunteer, or attend an optional dining event, this is your opportunity to participate.

Can people volunteer?

Rubin: Yes, please email our volunteer coordinator Blake Van Roekel.

· All previous IACP coverage [EaterPDX]
· IACP [Official Site]