When Chris Bailey moved to Portland from Arizona, he found that most people were clueless when it came to one of his favorite childhood meals: pozole, a tasty, slow-cooked Mexican-American Southwest soup made with crunchy hominy, chiles, and (traditionally) tender pork or chicken. For Bailey, it was a dish that recalled warm, lively family gatherings, but few people—especially his his vegetarian friends—could even try it. So, he dreamed up Pozole to the People: his own vegan pozole base, modeled on his father’s recipe, which would cut hours of prep time and allow cooks to add whatever protein they liked.
Nearly four years later, you can find his soup base sitting proudly on local grocery store shelves right next to Portland-born bottles of ketchup, local ramen noodles, and cookies—each with their own backstory.
On Monday, October 22, the Portland Culinary Alliance hosts Behind the Brand: A Maker’s Journey at Tillamook's Portland outpost. The event gives the folks leading some of the city’s freshest food brands—from Umi Organic ramen queen Lola Milholland to Jess Hilbert of Red Duck Foods—a chance to talk shop and dig into their companies’ successes and missteps, all in the hopes of schooling young entrepreneurs who wanna launch the city’s next big edible hit.
Pozole master Bailey will be on hand to share his story, too (psst: right now he’s partnering with New Seasons to develop a series of Asian soup and sipping broth bases), as well Michael Pan of Pan’s Mushroom Jerky and Roons maker Jenn Topliff.
Diane Morgan, PCA president and prolific cookbook author (17 books and counting) is impressed by local food brands navigating the tricky road to success (only 50 percent of food start-ups survive their first five years of business). She brings up Roons owner Topliff, whose local company bakes up coconut macaroons in flavors ranging from lemon to pumpkin spice.
“Jenn spent a lot of time fine-tuning that recipe," Morgan says. "You have to be able to figure out how to replicate and scale it. Volume is everything. That takes time and that takes diligence. Now she has her Roons on Alaska Airlines! How did she do that?”
Here’s hoping she’ll let a few secrets slip next week.
6–8 p.m. Mon, Oct 22, Tillamook Portland Outpost, 1400 NW 22nd Ave., $15