Jared Goodman’s Morgan St. Theater lives comfortably at the intersection of conceptual ice cream and live storytelling a la The Moth Radio Hour. Goodman started the thematic dessert performances in his own home two years ago, eventually adding an ice cream tricycle, “Pedal Parlor,” to his toolkit, and biking his wares to farmers markets around town. Now, Goodman is launching his first official dessert theater pop-up at Handsome Pizza on Northeast Killingsworth starting in January 2016. We caught up with Goodman for the inside scoop on his evolving brand of culinary performance.
You’ve been pairing dessert with theater for a few years now. What are your most memorable performances?
JG: I did “An Evening in Spain” and “An Evening in Italy” where I brought in an opera singer and flamenco dancers. This summer, I celebrated the legalization of marijuana with a munchies-themed event. I’ve also done “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” —a dessert game night. I’ve done ones for the Jewish holidays (think Manischewitz ice cream and a matzo-brei sundae). For Hanukah, I did an ice cream sandwich called the “Gelt-wich” with milk chocolate ice cream with toasted sourdough bread slathered in salted thyme butter and a house-made raspberry vinegar. I was really proud of that one.
What’s changing with the move to Handsome Pizza?
JG: Up until now I’ve been doing almost all of the performances; I’ve been the storyteller. For this season I’ll be bringing in professional storytellers, puppeteers, musicians, and maybe even dancers from all over the city. It’s not going to be me; it’s going to be the artists of this town.
As a storyteller, where do you find your niche in Portland?
JG: I create the stories from my life. They’re personal nonfiction. There are several other storytelling events, like Back Fence PDX and Live Wire. Or The Moth (which is not PDX based). I’m hoping to fall within that camp of having a theme and sharing stories based on it. The Moth can sometimes be spontaneous—just whoever is there that night. This will be a little bit more organized but it will be people telling stories from their own lives.
You’ve entered Portland’s food scene at a time when pop-ups are the norm. How do you differentiate yourself from the dozens of others?
JG: It’s as much about the social experience as it is the food. My understanding of other pop-ups is that they’re all about the food: they have this very specific vision for the kind of food they want to create and share. So people have this great food experience but it’s not necessarily intended to be about the fellow diners. Also, I’m doing dessert. That was a conscious decision. When I had the idea in the beginning, I knew that there was no way I could compete with a savory dinner experience in this kind of town.
For more information about Goodman’s Morgan St. Theater or to reserve your seat for one of his upcoming events, visit his website. He’ll be serving up ice cream and orchestrating themed performances every second, third, and fourth Wednesday of the month from January-May at 1603 NE Killingsworth St.
This interview has been edited and condensed.