Celebrity chef star power was everywhere at the fifth annual Feast Portland, with local star chefs like Gregory Gordet (Departure) and Naomi Pomeroy (Beast) and visiting chefs Hugh Acheson (Punch Bowl Social, Top Chef Judge), Paul Kahan (Publican), and more in attendance. Aside from the main Feast events, Kachka had some of the hottest chef sightings, including Andy Ricker (Pok Pok), NYC-ramen-master Ivan Orkin (Ivan Ramen), and San Francisco’s Danny Bowien (Mission Chinese Food).
—Kicking things off on Thursday evening, the Sandwich Invitational proved high-brow-low-brow mashups remain king. Kim Jong Grillin’ won first place with a stacked Bulgogi Club sandwich involving Korean grilled beef and American cheese. On the other end of the sandwich was Nomad.PDX’s modernist Filet-O-Fish, which looked so much like McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish many attendees passed it by. This was a mistake, as that filet was a compressed mousseline of local black cod with American cheese and a house-made tartar sauce involving Kewpie mayo on hand-formed rolls. But it gave chefs Ryan Fox and Ali Matteis time to play a game of giant cornhole.
—As future grandchildren will tell their future grandchildren, Bon Appetit’s Friday afterparty at Clyde’s Prime Rib was the day the #ShrimpDick appetizer was born. It came out smoking-cold:
—Saturday’s Smoked! event proved that Portlanders have no trouble handling the rain, but how about out-of-towners? Sopping, squishy footwear was à la mode.
—In consolation were 25 chefs lording over 25 open flames, filling the skies with smoke like an ancient Roman army encampment. The Country Cat’s Adam Sappington grilled pork ribs on a massive cauldron and Coquine’s Katy Millard made salted caramel, smoked almond, and chocolate chip cookies. Park Kitchen’s David Sapp pushed boozy ice cream to the limit: Six 750 ml bottles of Henry McKenna bourbon went into every eight gallons of his ice cream.
—Washington State Wine and Eater’s Saturday afterparty at Irving Street Kitchen was stuffed with spectacles. First, burlesque dancers performed an incantation around the #LordOfTheFlies pig head.
—Then, Anonymous Feast Godzilla showed up on the scene, attacking a volcano of nacho cheese.
—Finally, Anonymous Feast Godzilla got its groove on on the dance floor (rumors report Anonymous Feast Godzilla was later seen leaving the party with a gaggle of Feasters and the nacho cheese volcano).
—The chefs at the next day’s Brunch Village outdid themselves, with highlights including Elias Cairo’s (Olympia Provisions) pancake-battered breakfast sausage Monte Cristo served with maple syrup and jam and John Gorham’s (Toro Bravo) pimento, egg, and fried chicken biscuit sandwich. Chef Johanna Ware served a nourishing breakfast congee, with black bean sausage, honey, black vinegar, and scallion — driving the nail into the fact that Smallwares will be sorely missed when it closes after service this Saturday.
—Brunch Village also brought Feast 2016’s standout marketing gimmick: Reykah Vodka’s human vending machine, which handed out pizza or sunglasses.
After the last Olympia Provisions-salami-topped bloody mary was downed, Feast 2016 wrapped up. Hopefully those visiting Portland liked this little city’s craftsman cuisine enough to come back for more. And those lucky enough to call this city home have an entirely new bucketlist of restaurants to tackle.