"We Do Best When We Focus on What Makes Portland Cool"

Feast co-founder Mike Thelin on Portland's premier food festival

By Marty Patail August 24, 2015 Published in the September 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Mike Thelin

Feast Portland returns for its fourth year September 17. What makes the fest special? We don’t look at the other festivals around the country. The majority of attendees, about 60 percent, are Oregonians. Our biggest market is Portland, and our second biggest is Seattle. We want it to be expansive, and representative of our city, but also intimate. Most people who come to Feast will only go to one or two festival events, then go explore.

Who is coming this year that you’re really excited about? We have Christopher Haatuft coming from Bergen, Norway. Everyone’s so fascinated with Scandinavian cooking, but the whole new Nordic trend is just one element of Scandinavian cooking, with a really short growing season—whereas if you go to Bergen it looks beautiful, green, and lush. The best butter I’ve ever tasted! I ate there last year and it just blew my mind, because it was the opposite of everything we associate with Scandinavian food.

How do you balance local chefs and food with national or international guests? What makes festivals—particularly with food—special is they need to celebrate place. We do best when we focus on what makes Portland and Oregon cool. We live in one of the most dynamic food regions in the world.

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