If you don't know who Gary the Foodie is, he's the kind of guy who dines all over Portland and takes regular eating trips to New York, San Francisco and Chicago, documenting everything he consumes along the way. Every chef loves him. He has no connection to the restaurant industry beyond his adamant love of food. And he might be this city's greatest tastemaker, possibly even edging out the critics.
This morning the Right at the Fork podcast conducted the first-ever live interview with notoriously media-shy Gary the Foodie, a.k.a. Gary Okazaki. Here are the key takeaways.
1) On how he remembers everything he eats: "You remember because you pay 40 bucks for a few bites."
2) On where to direct out-of-towners visiting Portland: Castagna, Le Pigeon, Langbaan, Aviary, Nodoguro, Renata, Ox, Ataula, Roe, Kachka, Little Bird, Davenport, Clyde Common and Park Kitchen.
3) On "The most important restaurant in the last, maybe, 20 years": "[It] was Zefiro" because it was "the one that started it all" and "begat" Wildwood, Paley's Place and Higgins.
4) On consistency: "I wish the cooking in Portland were more consistent," mainly because of the high line cook turnover rate in many kitchens. However, Okazaki says Aviary and Castagna are always on-point. NB: At the latter, look for him at table 4, post-workout eating dessert.
5) On his wardrobe and what's in his signature fanny pack: "You've got the iPhone 6 plus; I've got my keys; I've got my Purell [because] I pet pets. I've got a flashlight. I look like a fucking asshole with a fanny pack, but I don't care!" he says. "When I leave the city and go travel, no fanny pack."
6) On being out-eaten: Once, at Mi Mero Mole, for its flat-fee all-you-can-eat taco challenge, his friend Carrie Kissell — whom he describes as a "90-pound, 5-foot, two-inch woman" — ate eleven tacos to his ten. Although he thinks they actually tied since they got ice cream after at Rose's, where he out-ate her three scoops to one. FWIW the current record for tacos eaten at Mi Mero Mole is 14.
7) On being interviewed: "I'm not sure if I'm more nervous now, or when I had my colonoscopy a few weeks ago."
Listen to the lively hourlong discussion here.
For more information on past show, visit RATF's homepage.