Another Feast in the Books

Posted by: jillw in: Food/Beverage -

Feast Portland 2019 may have come and gone, but the highlight reel keeps playing in our minds and on our palates. Feast has become the nation’s food festival to beat, and for good reason. Much like our culinary landscape, Feast is always evolving, each time introducing fresh events, new locations and innovative showings from an expansive star-studded cast.

Here are some of our impressions from Feast Portland 2019 and its impressive cast of chefs, restauranteurs, and food and beverage purveyors:

Like real estate, it’s all about location, location, location

Crowds at marquee events like The Big Feast and Brunch Village responded well to locally made or Oregon-grown messaging. This year, we even saw an appearance from Burgerville, a Northwest fast food favorite for its focus on sourcing quality ingredients close to home. We think the message has been received: why seek ingredients from afar given the diverse and flavorful bounty at our doorstep?

Sweet or savory? Feast’s answer: Yes.

Why box yourself in? This year, The Big Feast featured numerous sweet and savory pairings that drew attention to the versatility of various ingredients. Coconut was a popular choice, sometimes showcasing its sweetness, other times its texture and crunch. Pickled toppings also added interest, from traditional cucumbers and onions to some unexpected items, like elderberries.

CBD is all the rage.

Maybe it’s the focus on wellness, or maybe it’s the more relaxed attitude toward cannabis and products derived from it, but CBD appears to be a trend with staying power. Goodies included gummies, coffee, taffy, among many other CBD-infused foods and drinks.

The irresistible tug of barbecue.

We followed our noses to Smoked, which took a democratic approach to barbecue with something for everyone, even vegans, thanks to Chef Zak Pelaccio’s charred long bean tom tuch. Other showstoppers included Bamboo Sushi’s grilled, sustainable Octopus, Olympia Provisions’ charcuterie station and endless strings of sausages, and Snake River Farms’ short ribs grilled and smoked to perfection. Instagrammers no doubt caught Chef Chris Cosentino from Jackrabbit with his flambadou – a preparation that involved pouring molten pork fat over grilled octopus with iberico ham.

The rise of the mocktail.

With surveys indicating that millennials and Generation Z are open to low-proof or non-alcoholic drinks, it wasn’t surprising to see an abundance of mocktails. They were everywhere at Feast, as the zero-proof obsession is consistent with a more intentional focus on wellness. Along that vein, tea was also a popular thirst quencher, and it paired surprisingly well as an accompaniment to crunchy granola.

But a little buzz is good, too.

As always, Feast had many varieties of wines and spirits to sample. One of the more interesting trends was botanical and citrus infusion. Ketel One Vodka introduced its botanicals line, drawing crowds to its tent, aptly adorned in a beautiful floral theme. At Smoked, some of the longest lines were for Bulleit and Westward American Single Malt Whiskey, adding fuel to the idea that liquor is gaining traction among trendsetters.

Finally, good things do come in small packages.

Fun-size events, including a new all-ages event, offered more intimate experiences of Feast, while giving chefs a venue in which to concentrate wholly on a food category or theme. Such events – as well as dinners and classes – will be high on our list next time around as we seek to immerse ourselves in Feast.

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