Food Event Spotlight

Departure’s Gregory Gourdet to Host Talent-Studded James Beard Dinner Fundraiser

Thirteen of Portland's James Beard stars (and Congressman Earl Blumenauer) join forces to fight for a fair food system.

By Natasha Tandler July 24, 2018

Departure's Gregory Gourdet

Eat Beat has learned that Top Chef star Gregory Gourdet is partnering with the James Beard Foundation to host ROOTS (Friday, October 5), a 12-course dinner at the Nines Hotel, presented by 13 Portland-based James Beard-nominated, semifinalist, and award-winning chefs. 

The expression “too many cooks in the kitchen” does not apply here. Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton (Ox), Jose Chesa (Ataula), Ken Forkish (Ken’s Artisan Bakery), Vitaly Paley (Paley’s Place), Gabriel Rucker (Le Pigeon), Kristen Murray (Maurice), Katy Millard (Coquine), Justin Woodward (Castagna), Andy Ricker (Pok Pok), and Naomi Pomeroy (Beast) are among the night’s luminaries.

Gourdet will emcee the event, which will endeavor to raise awareness about the soon-to-expire Farm Bill. “[The Bill] includes so many things that I was already passionate about, from conservation to environmentalism to organic farming,” explains Gourdet. “These topics are important to me and a lot of people I know, if not the entire culinary community in Portland.” 

At the end of 2018, a new, House-proposed version could potentially cut funding to conservation programs and to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)—which provides about 46 million low-income Americans with greater access to food. The night's headliner will be habitually bow tie-clad Congressman Earl Blumenauer, an ardent advocate for food system reform.

A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit the Farmers Market Fund—a locally based non profit that allows SNAP recipients to double the amount they can spend at participating farmers markets—and support James Beard Foundation Impact Programs that transform chefs into food system champions.

Beyond food justice, the menu is still up in the air. The $295 ticket will get you a 90-minute pre-dinner cocktail reception featuring bites from four or five James Beard talents. That’s followed by the main event: a three-hour tasting experience, starting with bread baked by Ken Forkish and concluding with treats from Kristen Murray.

 “We are specifically keeping it Oregon-grown and Oregon-made as much as possible,” says Gourdet. “I’ve asked everyone to create a dish asking what Oregon means to them.”

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