The third-annual Feast chefnado touched down in Portland from Thursday through Sunday, bringing with it an influx of roasted pig heads, fire-twirlers, caviar nachos and hashtags like #feastboner. After four days of all-you-can-eat-and-drink tastings, hands-on classes, expert panels and over-the-top after-parties, the smoke has cleared, the juice cleanses have commenced, and we've gathered our top-10 observations:
1) Hottest tables: Ox, for the second year in a row. So many visiting chefs flocked to the Northeast Portland hotspot that chef/co-owner Greg Denton kept track with a Hollywood Squares-style tic-tac-toe game in the kitchen, and his giddy Instagram post prompted the first use of the hashtag #feastboner.
2) Visitor with most impressive Instagram feed: Pastry chef Pichet Ong is a true culinary tourist, visiting at least 14 Portland favorites during his stay: The Sugar Cube, Maurice, Bakeshop, Little T Baker, Case Study, Salt & Straw, Portland Farmers Market (at King and PSU), Lang Baan, Ox, Blue Star Donuts, Nong's Khao Man Gai, Lardo, Sen Yai and Lincoln.
3) Most buzzed-about attendee: Former Gourmet Magazine editor and Twitter poet Ruth Reichl announced at the eleventh hour that she was coming to sign copies of her new novel "Delicious." After that, taking a selfie with Ruth was top on everyone's priority list. Portland Monthly's Karen Brooks took her on a culinary tour of the city, including Sweedeedee and Langbaan, but it was her visit to Ox that inspired her first post-feast blog post.
4) Surprising trend: Breaking into song. Media types rode the "karaoke bus" to Friday's Night Market, Lardo's after-party featured karaoke DJ Baby Ketten, and at Bunk Bar's Saturday night after-party, chefs Joshua McFadden, Phillip Krajek and Bon Appetit editor Julia Kramer were among those who took the stage to belt out tunes alongside a live band.
5) Thing that made us stabby: Patiently enduring long lines only to find the chef has run out halfway through the event. Yes, people can be pigs, but as the chefs high-fived and packed up, we couldn't help but wonder if it was a planned outage. Those who had plenty of food despite inspiring everlasting lines were our heroes. Rick Gencarelli of Lardo, Tyler Malek of Salt & Straw, Vitaly Paley of Imperial, and Lisa Schroeder of Mother's Bistro earned our high fives.
6) Marketing ploys we actually liked: With "seatings" every 15 minutes, the USA Pears pop-up gave attendees the chance to escape the hoards and enjoy three small courses from a top chef in relative peace. Tillamook's adorable VW bus stopped by the Brunch Village with warm cheese biscuits and a yogurt bar (bonus: It parked outside two after-parties with Tillabars and waffle-bowl sundaes). And Whole Foods' customizable canvas tote bags were silk-screened while you wait.
7) Legacies: The party's over, but several festival items live on. The epic canvas and leather swag bag provided by Will Leather Goods is available for $75. Flavour Gallery sells the soft and stylish Feast T-shirts. Imperial's juicy fried chicken with rooftop honey and compressed watermelon salad, one of the biggest hits at High Comfort, is now on the lunch menu. And the Salt & Straw/Cacao drinking chocolate affogato, a fave at the Grand Bounty, is available at the SW 13th Avenue store.
8) Longest lines: The demand for Salt & Straw's open-faced PBJ ice cream sandwich never seemed to end, especially after it was crowned the People's Choice at the Sandwich Invitational. At Friday's Night Market, Nong's Khao Man Gai earned longest-line honors, even though her signature dish is easy to get in town. At High Comfort, the line at Toro Bravo's booth snaked through the ballroom, moving slowly as guests got an explainer of chef John Gorham's "Spanish Kisses," essentially a bursting "olive puree sphere" that'd be comfortable on the elBulli menu. And Austin's Aaron Franklin inspires lines wherever he and his brisket go, and his tacos at Sunday's Brunch Village were no exception.
9) Best presentation: Alvin Cailan of Los Angeles' Eggslut served poached egg-topped kimchi fried rice in tin containers. Guests were encouraged to incorporate the egg by shaking up the container, an idea, Cailan says, he dreamed up while drunk.
10) After-party highlight reel: Bon Appetit's party sported cocktails with branded ice cubes. Portland Monthly's used roasted pig heads as tabletop decor. Eater's party in collaboration with Washington State Wines offered caviar nachos and a tattoo artist inking the brave with real tattoos. And an after-after-party at ChefStable featured a cafeteria-meets-frat party theme, with White Russians served inside adorable milk containers.