Four short years ago, I often found myself venturing out to a bunch of restaurants and food shops I’d read about on Portlandfoodanddrink.com, pointing to vacant seats at chef’s counters in order to reserve my spot to have a front row seat to some of Portland’s finest theater. I’d ask chefs what I should order, watching them plate and serve me morsels of Oregon deliciousness, downing their food with happiness in my heart and seeing the chef’s proud smile. It was beyond merely eating–connecting with these passionate people–bantering with them about their food and their lives, while eating their food.
Those experiences led me to start a fun events business in which I could try to replicate that—to a degree—so that other people could enjoy trying a nice sampling of a chef’s menu and hearing from them about their careers and the places they like to go in Portland. From Portland Food Adventures came the opportunity to write for this magazine, which I’ve been privileged to do since its inception. One of the common threads weaving through everything I’ve been doing in the food business is the social aspect of this incredible food community in Portland—the chefs, their support staffs, the farmers, the artisans and even this great community of writers and people who make up the Portland food scene.
On my journey, I’ve met so many people. I’ve marveled at the way everyone works together and roots for one another in Portland. It’s truly one of the unique aspects that has led to its growth. One of those people is a publicist, Heather Jones. We worked together harmoniously on a couple of events and then enjoyed being part of the marketing team on the development of a food app, TablesUp. Last year, Heather had an idea to do something that wasn’t being done yet; a podcast featuring not only the chefs we all hear about, but more the unsung heroes that support those chefs and feed their products and services to them. I am so pleased she gave me a ring to see if I’d be interested in such a thing.
Until I stepped up to that mic for the first time, I had forgotten I spent my whole childhood with a fake mic in front of my 9” black and white Sony TV, calling the Knicks games to myself. I can still recite “Reed to Frazier. He fakes, and shoots! That’s 2!” Some 40-odd years later, here I was — at a live mic.
Our weekly podcast, also named Right at the Fork, launched in early January. It’s been an interesting process foraying into this digital landscape. We record at the studios of Alpha Broadcasting, and we have had a mix of guests from Don Bourassa talking about why chefs Yelp and should embrace it to Sarah Hart of Alma Chocolate talking about her teen years with Cesar Chavez on a retreat. As of the writing of this column, we’ve seen our “downloaders” grow by about 40 percent a week. And we now have regular listeners as far away as Iraq and Saudi Arabia, even though the majority are right here in Portland.
The people that make up this food community work so hard, and most all, while needing to support their lives, are driven by their passions for food and what they do. In this city, anyone who isn’t doing it well and because they love to, simply won’t make the cut. I am so glad to help bring the stories of the special characters in the food world in Portland through my work here, and in a more intimate fashion on the podcast. Often, we’ll expand on the interviews you read here on the podcast. And in this issue, you’ll find a companion video produced by Kyle Collins. Please visit www.rightatthefork.com and subscribe through your favorite channel, and let us know what you think, and go visit the businesses of those we celebrate. That makes you an integral part of the coolest food community in the nation.
It’s no longer a secret.