Feast Portland is coming, guys and dolls! September 18-20th, I’ll be lucky enough to hang out at one of the best food festivals around, sticking my camera where it may or may not belong. I’ll be sure to follow up with a recap post, but if you want to keep up in real time with what I’m eating and drinking and what I’ve managed to spill on my shirt this time, you can always follow along on Instagram and Twitter.
I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks and I must tell you about it, because just in case you’re around these parts, I’d love to see you there. (And if you’re not around these parts, that’s why Beyonce invented planes, trains, and automobiles.)
Feast Portland has been around since 2012, making this the fourth installation of a big, bold event. The festival organizers have partnered with Bon Appetit since the beginning and featured the likes of Mark Bittman, Gabrielle Hamilton, April Bloomfield, Danny Bowien, and many others, along with local talent (hello, Gregory Gourdet, Cathy Whims, and Andy Ricker).
Yet, despite all the national (and international) starpower, it’s thoroughly focused on Oregon and Portland: the culture, the ingredients, and the talented chefs and artisans that make Oregon and Portland a food lover’s dream destination. It’s been called the best food festival in the United States by Thrillist. Fodor’s basically calls it perfection. Seattle is a little jealous. In summary: Feast Portland is kind of a big deal.
There are two things about this event that push my happy buttons. The first is all the booze. (Which sounds a little uncouth but hey — to thine own self be true.) Between the wine, the beer, the cider, the spirits, and the cocktails, there is so much interesting stuff going on that you might as well be at a beverage festival. There is no separation of food and drinking in Portland, and this town is obsessed with both in equal measure. On the agenda this year is a series of panel discussions under a collective “Drink Tank” title, including “Shaken, Stirred and Buzzed: Why We Really Like Booze,” “I’m in a Cult,” (it’s about rare beers, not your creepy neighbors), and “Margarita’s Moment.” Naturally, I’ll be there at all three, and I’ll be following that up with a stop at the Night Market event, which is essentially every one of our global street food dreams coming true, simultaneously.
All this exciting talk brings me to second thing I love about Feast: It’s not just a bacchanal of indulgence. There’s a central mission at the heart of the whole thing: ending hunger. Feast supports Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon (PFHO) and Share Our Strength, a national organization, and has raised over $162,000 since the festival’s inception to strengthen efforts to end hunger locally and nationally. PFHO has connected at-risk kids with over 700,000 meals, advocates for statewide policies that make sense, and promotes and improves access to wonderful efforts like the Summer Meals program, which fills the nutritional gap once school is out for the summer. Share Our Strength runs the No Kid Hungry campaign, which supports and initiates similar campaigns on a national level.
This is what I love most about food-loving people: They never seem to forget their neighbor and are always up for making room at the table — for friends and complete strangers alike. It’s #whywefeast, in communities big and small. (And also because: Tacos.)