Notes From the IACP Conference in Portland, Oregon


Food workers of all sorts descended on Portland, Oregon last week for the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference. Seminars were held on every culinary topic imaginable — Pacific bivalves! Oregonian beer! — a food geek’s dream. You might have bumped into a recipe developer for ConAgra, a freelance writer from New York, a radicchio marking specialist (really!), or Ruth Reichl.

Click through for some choice quotes from the likes of Madhur Jaffrey, Reichl, Judith Jones, and brewer Jamie Emmerson from Oregon’s Full Sail Brewing Company.

Madhur Jaffrey on coming to America, and trusting your own taste:

“On the Queen Mary 2, I saw two things for the first time: Bermuda shorts, which I did not like, and iceberg lettuce, which I did. I thought it was sweet, crunchy, and absolutely marvelous. And then I got to New York, and all the food writers were saying, “Ooh, don’t eat that!’ But I like that. So you have to trust your palate.”

Ruth Reichl on a new job she’s considering:

“It’s in editing, but it’s not a magazine.”

Ruth Reichl on the power of individual consumer choice:

“As a political person, there’s not much you can do other than vote every four years. But with food, you really can make change. If everyone woke up tomorrow and decided never to eat another tortured animal, that practice would end completely.”

Judith Jones, editor of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, among other legendary books, on why she was at first resistant to Julie and Julia, but has now come (a bit) around:

“It’s a movie, it’s entertainment. And now young people are buying Mastering the Art of French Cooking, so who cares how they got there? Anything that furthers the cause of cooking…”

Full Sail’s Jamie Emmerson on differences in drinkers’ expectations of wine versus beer, despite the fact that they’re both agricultural products, subject to the whims of nature:

“With wine, people might say, ‘Oh, the ’05 is great, and the ’06 is eeeehh.’ No one seems to mind that, but if one of my beers is not exactly right, and exactly the same as before, I get a nasty gram!”

As an added bonus the convention’s events, the street food truck scene in Portland is hugely vibrant and diverse, almost like an American version of Singapore’s hawker centers. Colorful trailers park in big lots, offering regional Thai, Mexican, seafood, waffles, Bosnian, soul food… truly, it is amazing. And the city’s organized, rational approach to their street vendors certainly beats New York’s ongoing shenanigans. (The Schnitzel Truck is a terrorist threat?)