Oregon is a respected food and wine destination year round, but for a gastronomic pilgrimage of epic proportion, Feast Portland might just be mecca. With Bon Appétit as a major partner, the event has drawn renowned chefs from all over the United States, plus a few international guest appearances. In fact, 2019 hosted a total of 47 events, 131 chefs and 21,382 hungry attendees!
The purpose of Feast is to not only celebrate the state and city’s food community, even more important during these times of industry uncertainty, but also promote a charitable mission. The event has raised $523,590 since inception for Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, and redistributing food products through Urban Gleaners.
Events are organized into main, fun-size, dinner series, drink tank panels and classes. The five main events include Big Feast, held both Saturday and Sunday afternoon. This event, held in the spacious Waterfront Park, not only showcases local artisan products and food samples but is where you will find the largest wine tasting of the festival (beer, cider and spirits are generously poured too).
The other main events are all outdoor evening soirees. Thursday night “Versus” seems to hold the underdog card, but is always more than worth the ticket price. Last year’s East Coast vs West Coast included the title match up of a classic lobster roll from Boston’s Eventide Oyster Co versus a crustacean slider from Burger Stevens in Portland. However, wild cards such as roasted pork belly from Laurelhurst, and tritip steak tartare with sea urchin from Ringside Steakhouse, both in Portland, helped the west coast earn the title.
Nights at Feast Portland
Friday night is Night Market, inspired by global street food, with 2019 focused on Southeast Asian cuisine. The crowd chills along the south waterfront, mesmerized by Buddha bar beats spun by a DJ suspended overhead and the rainbow coloured lights illuminating the plethora of bridges spanning the Willamette River.
Smoked is always a quick sell out for Saturday night. A cloud hovers over The Fields Park in the Pearl District as chefs stoke live fires, cooking up not just carnivorous treats but an ever expanding selection of vegetable focused dishes. The status symbol of gnawing on a signature tomahawk bone of previous years was replaced in 2019 by a chewed off corn cob or the tips of charred long bean tom tuah on a plate.
Feast Portland’s Sunday Brunch
The main events are rounded out by a legendary Sunday brunch. The opportunity to carb load on treats both sweet and savoury is a fine segue into an afternoon nap. The charcoal pavlova from Proud Mary Coffee and Bananas Foster La’ssant from Nola Doughnuts were top picks amongst a selection of unique flavour combos.
The fun size category consists of events with 200-400 guests, perfect for those who prefer a little smaller crowd. They too are generally held outdoors and 2019 saw themes from Vegetables, A Love Story to Aaron Franklin and Friends Backyard BBQ.
For even more intimate experiences, two to three dinners per night are held in top restaurants with multiple courses prepared by teams of chefs and pairings presented by local Oregon wineries.
Try New Things at Feast Portland
There are plenty of opportunities to learn new things at the festival. Drink Tank consists of a series of seminars led by a panel of expert speakers disseminating their knowledge and bantering about topics from booze trends to cannabis infused cocktails, while attendees enjoy beverages of topic alongside curated snacks like local charcuterie, cheese and nuts.
Classes are also available daily, with topics ranging from cooking demonstrations to coffee cupping and food photography.
But Feast is not just all about food and booze, with the number of wellness related opportunities increasing. The Zero Proof dinner, hosted by six abstaining chefs, sent a sobering statement when it sold out for the second year in a row within minutes. As well, 2019 was the launch of family friendly events including Melty Fest and kids play areas.
Drink panels on alternative beverage options, “before parties” consisting of guided runs or yoga, and abundant still and sparkling water stations at every event make sure the experience is well rounded.
Plan to Attend Feast Portland
Check out this 2019 report on Feast Portland from KGW News.
The ninth annual four day food festival is planned for September 17-20, 2020, with confirmation likely dependent on the long term impact of COVID19 and potential public gathering restrictions.
The full schedule of events is released and tickets go on sale usually in early June. Many events such as the dinner series and Smoked sell out within minutes, so make sure to get ready by planning ahead at Feast Portland!
Learn more about Feast Portland at: https://www.feastportland.com/ Note that the Feast won’t be held in 2020, due to restrictions on large gatherings, but will return in 2021.
About the Author
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About the Photo
The photo in the header above was taken by BJ Oudman at the Big Feast Entrance at Feast Portland in Portland, Oregon, USA.
About the Author & Photographer
BJ Oudman is a travel writer who has visited 25+ countries.
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