Feast Portland Interviews

Q&A: Adam Rapoport

Bon Appétit’s trendsetting chief honcho and four-day Portland ambassador dishes on New York’s P-town obsession and the future of food journalism.

By Karen Brooks September 12, 2012

Feast Portland, one of the country's most original food festivals, lands in the Rose City September 20–23. To count down to the event, read Eat Beat's daily interviews with seven of the great food thinkers coming to participate in this illustrious culinary throw-down—and where to catch them.

(Tomorrow: Ace of Cakes' Duff Goldman on the future of food TV.)


Q: You spend your days working in the culinary and media capital of the world, but the first national food festival to carry Bon Appétit’s blessing, under your guidance, is housed in a much smaller media market. Why Portland? And welcome!

A: Well, first of all, I think New Yorkers are even more obsessed with Portland than Brooklyn. It seems to be that magical land where everything is artisanal or house-cured, every coffee is pour-over, and there are more quality food trucks per capita than any city of the planet. I realize this all sounds a bit snarky and sarcastic, but I’m actually pretty sure it’s true. And we couldn’t be more excited to come to town.

Is New York obsessed with Portland? From here, it seems like you should extend the L train to stop in front of the Ace Hotel.

Wait, did I already mention that New Yorkers are obsessed with Portland? Well, I’ll say it again: Yes. We are. Besides being able to enjoy its top-notch food scene, we all secretly yearn to live in a city that isn’t so ginormous, where we can ride our bikes pretty much everywhere, where we can get out of town easily while still being able to order an expertly crafted cocktail whenever we want one.

As a food editor based in a food capital like New York, what do you see when you look at Portland, Oregon? How do you explain the culinary ideas and developments emanating from parts of the Pacific Northwest?

New York might be the restaurant capital of America, but so many of the lasting food trends seem to emanate from the West and work their way East, dating back to Alice Waters. Right now, I think a lot more Americans are hip to the fact that quality food starts not with white china and squirt bottles but quality ingredients. And the Pacific Northwest offers an endless bounty, from oysters to mushrooms to wine and on and on. And the chefs there appreciate that bounty and honor it.

New York is a notorious graveyard for food-world transplants. Outsiders seeking a slice of the Big Apple rarely pierce the skin. Why are Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker, Atera’s Matt Lightner, and Stumptown’s Duane Sorenson not only succeeding but changing conversations?  

New Yorkers seem to take particular issue with fancy French chefs who come to town thinking they’re going to teach us a thing or two about fine dining. Chefs like Ducasse and Robuchon. Guys with tattoos and beards, we’re a lot more welcoming toward. Oh, and we really like good coffee.

What are the biggest changes ahead for food journalism?

Being heard, both in a good and bad way. Lots of publications, lots of “devices” out there.

What do you see in your culinary crystal ball that will surprise us? A place, a dish, a movement, a countermovement—what comes next?

If I told you, Andrew Knowlton, our restaurant critic, would kick my butt. His list of the Top 25 Food Trends of 2013 will be in Bon Appétit’s January issue.

What do you hope festivalgoers take away with them after being immersed in the four-day-long Bon Appétit Presents Feast Portland?

Eat and drink really well, learn a lot, and, most importantly, have fun.


Catch Adam Rapoport at the Whole Foods Market Speaker Series, a three-hour festival of thought moderated by Portland Monthly editor in chief Randy Gragg. Rapoport joins a dozen national and local food thinkers chewing over “The Global Local: Searching for an American Food Culture.” Saturday, Sept 21, 12:30 pm, Gerding Theater at the Armory 

Bon Appétit Presents Feast Portland (feastportland.com) is a region-defining celebration of everything that makes Portland awesome, Sept 2023. All proceeds benefit hunger relief organizations Share Our Strength and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon.

Buy tickets at www.feastportland.com. Find updates on Facebook and Twitter (@FeastPDX).

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