Happy September everyone! Hope you had a fantastic Labor Day Weekend!
Carrie is really wonderful, incredibly hospitable and a total rock star when it comes to balancing work and life. She co-owns Little Green Pickle, a local PR firm with her wife Jannie Huang, has started this phenomenal food and wine festival Feast with Mike Thelin, has two little dogs, and just welcome a new baby boy to the mix. Clearly, she has a lot going on, so I was really excited she took some time to answer a few questions!
Feast Portland, which is happening in just a few weeks from September 18-21st, is a “celebration of Oregon Bounty showcasing local culinary talent and Pacific Northwest ingredients alongside internationally recognized chefs, culinary professional and industry leaders.” It was listed as one of Fodor’s Travel North America’s Top 15 Food Festivals and has been called “the best food festival in the country” by Thrillist National. Not too shabby for only starting in 2012!
With a staff of 5 full-time, year-round employees and 200-300 volunteers, Team Feast pulls together a really impressive 31-event, 4-day festival.
Feast is now into Year 3 but you really would never know it by how well run it is, how many incredible chefs come in, and how much people love it. How do you pull it off?
“I really credit the success of Feast to Emily Crowley, our Festival Director of Feast. She is just the bomb when it comes to events. She makes sure everyone is taken care of in a way that not many people know how to do. And of course the rest of Team Feast.”
How did the idea of Feast get started?
“Mike Thelin and I met in 2010 when Jannie and I first moved here [from New York City]. We had mutual friends, he knew people at Food Network where I had been working and everyone upon moving here told me I needed to meet Mike Thelin. We had coffee at Coffeehouse NW on Burnside, I was trying to find a parking spot for 20 minutes. I still remember feeling very new to the city. Mike knew everything and knew everyone and was extremely welcoming. He mentioned to me that he always wanted to do a food and drink festival. I asked why there wasn’t one…We ended up sketching out Feast. I was in the jumping off the cliff stage in my life so why not start a food festival a month after moving to a new city?”
What sets Feast apart?
“What we are trying to do with Feast, how we are trying to differentiate ourselves is to make it really energetic and that the chefs and participants are up and coming and in their restaurants and are doing something really cool in the food and drink space. Whereas Food Network is going to do big festivals with Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri and people will love those no matter what, we want people to find out about Ari Taymor who is this amazing chef in LA who has a restaurant called Alma, and we want you to do it with an intimate setting at Aviary right here in Portland. Because that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to us.
Or we might want to do a tasting panel all about sparkling wine. But we’re going to do it a little differently than everyone else where we are going to talk to you about Prosecco, Cavas, and this sparkling wine made in Oregon and tie it back to this place because we feel like Oregon is a really special place.
It’s like a festival with a twist, with some handcrafted localness. We are really lucky because we live in a special corner of the planet where we can highlight all of these awesome ingredients, chefs, farmers, distilleries and people who are doing really special things, but that have larger universal themes so that it pertains to someone from Florida just as much as someone from Oregon.”
What is your favorite part of Feast?
“I know the week of Feast and I love that Portland as a city gets so excited about it. Year 1 was our festival, Year 2 people started to get it and it became their festival, and I don’t know what Year 3 will be like. We feel so much love and positivity around that week.
Our favorite part of Feast is just doing it. When I walk into the Sandwich Invitational, I breathe a little sigh of relief. I love seeing it underway. I love going through all the social media and retweeting anyone who uses the hashtag #FeastPDX.”
What are your recommendations for someone’s first trip to Feast?
“If I was a first time Feaster, I would go to the Sandwich Invitational because that is where you get it and understand what we are trying to do. Feast can feel like this big animal, like what are they talking about, there are simultaneous events going on, which one should I choose?” So I definitely say go to one big event. I feel like Sandwich is cool, laid back and appeals to anyone because it’s sandwiches and beer. [Read more about my experience at last year’s Sandwich Invitational here.]
Go to the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting on either Friday or Saturday. It is such a steal at only $60 and you get 5 hours all-inclusive of eating and drinking the best artisans, wineries, breweries, you name it from around the state. You can just relax, watch cooking demos and chill out for the afternoon. That event encapsulates Feast the best. You get to learn about how we’re helping end childhood hunger [through partnering with Share Our Strength and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon], you get to see celebrity chefs teaching you things so you get an information takeaway, and you can still eat and drink yourself silly. Feast is about learning about food and drink but also having a lot of fun.
Lastly, hit up a tasting panel and maybe a dinner. If you look at Feast as a smattering of different events that you can attend and see different perspectives on food and drink, you will get a neat bird’s eye view of what’s happening in the food and drink scene in America. And that’s the whole point of doing this festival.
Sounds like a fun weekend to me!”
I definitely agree and can’t wait. Fortunately it’s only 3 weeks away!
Check out my other posts on Feast below!