Make no mistake: you don’t need to own your own tofu press to be psyched about the Summer’s End Vegan Dinner*. The annual feast returns on Tuesday, September 29, for several courses of gluten-free, veggie-centric fare prepared by Departure’s Gregory Gourdet and Ava Gene’s Joshua McFadden.
The yearly tradition began in 2011, shortly after Gourdet—a health-conscious, Paleo-leaning chef known to frequent all-veg restaurants like Blossoming Lotus on his nights off—first took the helm at Departure. Back then, the restaurant didn’t even have a vegan menu, and Gourdet’s glazed mushrooms and coconut cardamom ice cream blew those hungry herbivores’ minds.
"I love this dinner because it allows me to combine the best produce from my two favorite seasons - summer and fall,” Gourdet explains. “End of summer melons and early fall squash will all play together in the same meal with the last tomatoes and corn.”
Since then, each event has featured a local plant-based partner, like Portobello, Petunia’s Pies & Pastries, Blossoming Lotus and Groundwork Organics. This year’s collaborator, Ava Gene’s McFadden, is especially exciting; the chef has been lauded by Bon Appetit for his unmatched mastery of all things vegetable—he may even have invented the now-ubiquitous raw kale salad, according to BA’s Andrew Knowlton— and has a “modern vegetable cooking” cookbook in the works.
This year’s vegan dinner doubles as the final event in McFadden’s and Gourdet’s Vegetable Dinner Series. A $70 ticket gets you dishes like vegan charcuterie (think housemade nut cheese and veggie pates) and a Summer’s End Tart featuring “various fruits and veg in various states of candied/fresh/dried overflowing out of a curd filed tart,” served with sweet corn ice cream.
The rest of the menu is still to be determined, but with two plant-based wizards whipping up Italian-meets-Asian-meets-Northwest flavors, it’s sure to be a meal to remember.
Summer's End Vegan Dinner at Departure
525 SW Morrison St
September 29th, 6:30 pm
Call 503-802-5370 to reserve your spot.
*In my personal history of attending, I’ve been seated with 14 omnivores and zero actual vegans.