One of the things I love about Portland is how food is always a central focus of the community. Between the popularity of year-round farmer’s markets to the food-centric events like FEAST, Chef’s Week PDX, Taste of the Nation (just to name a few)–food rules. One upcoming annual event is about the direction that food is going in–Foodworx Conference exists to stimulate a community discussion. When I attended last year, major topics of interest to me included mobile food culture, cooking like our mothers, and bringing food growing into urban neighborhoods.
At the time of attendance, I worked for a mobile food cart restaurant company that had more than quadrupled in size in its first 5 years–so to listen to different people in the industry talk about food cart culture, how to market, and just what you do with yourself when you begin to be successful, was very beneficial. Do you jump to a brick-and-mortar ($$$$)? Do you just open more carts? Go into catering? It was intensely interesting to me as it is so different from most small businesses I had been with in the past. The company I was with that the time did all of the above (in a certain order, ie–more trucks, catering, B&M). There’s a growing issue among carts in PDX in particular too–property is becoming such a hot commodity, many popular food pods are being sold off from underneath the carts to make room for high end condos and apartments (in this example, Cartopia on SE Hawthorne).
Chef Lisa Shroeder, owner of Mother’s Bistro, discussed how the states have evolved from the original cooking habits of the immigrants who moved here to dependency on fast, easy food. Some of the things I loved most about her talk were the stories she shared about her life growing up and cooking with her mother, who really knew her way around hearty whole meals that make your tastebuds sing–I know this for fact as in my other opportunities to work with Chef Lisa, she’s gifted me a copy of her newest cookbook, Mother’s Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again. The recipes in there have no shortage of good fats–just how I love them. 🙂
The other salient speech given that year was by the owner of My Street Grocery, a mobile fresh market! I loved this idea as it brings the fresh produce into the urban setting, where it may be hard to come by with all the neon fast food signs blinding you around every corner. It looks like, since the speech, the owner has teamed up with Whole Foods PDX to offer a consistent route around Portland–the partnership definitely makes the pricing more affordable for those who shop with My Street Grocery, and I especially loved the article I found on owner Amelia Pape in the Huffington Post.
This year’s Foodworx will have 24 speakers including Dick’s Kitchen owner Richard Satnik, Chef Gregory Gourdet of Departure, and Water Avenue’s Aaron Baker. A growing event, FoodWorx nearly doubled attendance between its first and second years, with 259 people attending in 2014. To keep up with demand and for the first time ever, this year’s FoodWorx will be streamed live around the world. Whole Foods Market is curating the Lunch Experience and food and drink tastings and demonstrations have also been expanded.
Tickets are now available for the Foodworx on Saturday, February 7th, 2015, running from 7:30am-6pm at the World Forestry Center.
Will you be at Foodworx this year?