I have seen the produce of the future. And it is purple. And pink. And blue.
The Culinary Breeding Network’s Annual Variety Showcase on Sunday brought together agricultural insiders, some of the city’s top restaurants, and hungry Portlanders in a glorious, edible celebration of color and flavor inside The Redd event space on SE Salmon.
An annual event since 2014, the showcase gives people who often work behind the scenes in the agriculture industry—farmers, plant breeders, organic seed producers, and agriculture researchers—a rare chance to meet directly with consumers. And it gives Portlanders a peek at new fruits and veggies that might soon appear on local menus, and at unusual varieties they can incorporate into their own gardens.
The Culinary Breeding Network is a local nonprofit with a mission to support the independent, organic agricultural community as they develop better-quality, better-tasting cultivars of fruits, vegetables, and grains.
At the Variety Showcase on February 16, tables overflowed with bright orange, purple, and yellow carrots; rosy pink radicchio and squash; turmeric flesh in vibrant orange, white, and eye-catching blue; red, pink, and ghost-white beets; and purple “greens” of all sorts. To show off this bounty, Portland chefs paired up with farmers, plant breeders, and seed growers, turning unique, lesser-known varieties into stellar sample-size dishes. Highlights included Maya Lovelace’s (Mae) crispy collards with “potlikker” sauce and a crunchy black garlic crumble, Deepak Saxena’s (DesiPDX) Hawaiian turmeric pulled pork, Karl Holl’s (Park Avenue Fine Wines, Spatzle and Speck) chilled indigo noodles with kimchi and pickled veggies, and Eb & Bean’s Namwah banana frozen yogurt topped with salted honey amaranth pops.
If the Variety Showcase gave us a look at the next wave of local food, rest easy. The future looks bright.