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Aaron Franklin (at right) works the pits at Feast 2016 with his right-hand man Benji Jacobs.

As if Texas weren't suffering enough… Last week, as Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Houston area, a smaller-scale disaster struck miles away: runaway pit embers caught fire at Austin’s Franklin Barbecue on August 26, seriously damaging the legendary barbecue spot. The good news: no one was injured. But, for now, Franklin is smoked. The smokehouse is destroyed and in rebuilding mode.

This year’s annual four-day food fete Feast Portland kicks off September 14 with an expanded line-up of 120-plus local and national chefs. But, as Feast staff tells Eat Beat, one familiar face won’t be here: Aaron Franklin. The James Beard-winning chef has become something of an unofficial Portlander in recent years, with his annual return visits to Feast. Tasting his barbecue has become among the festival’s most coveted experiences. Time and again I’ve been struck by Franklin’s demeanor during the fest, handing out his famed brisket sandwiches to folks he’d never see again with grace, humility, and humor.

This year, Franklin was slated to participate in two events: Franklin Barbecue and Family—an annual cookout with local collaborators—and Sunday’s Tex Mex dinner with Texas-born local chefs Doug Adams and Rodney Muirhead. Feast tells us both events have been canceled and ticket holders will receive full refunds. 

“Aaron and the Franklin crew are some of our closest friends,” says Feast co-founder Mike Thelin. “We are very grateful for their support of Feast over the years, sending love and support right now as they restore their livelihood.”  

Back in Stumptown, the show will go on. Now in its sixth year, Feast Portland will welcome more than 16,000 eaters to more than 40 events next month. The festival has donated more than $300,000 to hunger-relief charities since its inception. 

Though many events are sold out, some tickets remain: check the Feast website for info, and peek our latecomer's guide as well.

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