Portland Farmers Market Cookbook
I HAVE BEEN SHOPPING AT the Portland Farmers Market almost as long as it’s been around. I moved to Portland in 1994 to join Cory Schreiber and the team who opened Wildwood Restaurant and Bar. It was a special bunch of people, many of whom still live and work in Portland, having gone on to help shape our local culinary landscape. Together we have watched the once-quiet city blossom into a unique destination for diners, celebrated one another’s milestones, and supported each other in the ways that Portlanders in the food business do. Several new waves of talent have since emerged, with protégés of the city’s early influential kitchens opening restaurants of their own and mentoring their own eager cooks. (Look no further than Cory Schreiber, and Adam Sappington). The pioneering spirit that defined Portland in the mid ’90s is very much intact.
Portland is frequently named among America’s best food cities, and now the rest of the world knows us not only for our coffee and beer, but also for Chinook salmon and Hood River strawberries, chanterelle mushrooms and huckleberries, pinot noir and wild game, truffles and marionberries. James Beard famously described Oregon’s bounty in 1964: “No place on earth, with the exception of Paris, has done so much to influence my professional life.” Portlanders know they are lucky to call this place home. Portlanders who make their living from the land and who love to cook and eat feel doubly blessed.
For me, writing a Portland Farmers Market cookbook represented an opportunity to capture both the agricultural glory of the Pacific Northwest and the pride of place we share as Portlanders. Nowhere is that ethos more evident than at our farmers’ markets. For twenty-five years, Portland Farmers Market has informed our way of thinking about how food is grown and sourced, cooked and eaten, and its vendors have played a key role in contributing to the remarkable food our culinary professionals serve to an appreciative and receptive audience. As a member of the board of directors nearing the end of my six-year term, this project came to me at the best possible time, overlapping with our twenty-fifth anniversary. I appreciate the staff and board entrusting me with paying tribute to one of the city’s shiniest jewels; it has been an honor and privilege.
Oregon boasts an abundance of superlative, sustainable ingredients, and the recipes in the Portland Farmers Market Cookbook are informed by the flavors, colors, and textures of the region. Many of the book’s one hundred ingredient-driven recipes come from cooks and chefs whose simple, seasonal styles are inspired by their relationships with the foragers, farmers, and fishermen who deliver their wares—usually from within one hundred miles of the city—to our markets and the kitchen doors of our restaurants. The balance of the recipes come from those same foragers, farmers, and fisherman, arguably the individuals best equipped to advise us in our preparation of the ingredients they foster from seed to fruit.
A veteran of Portland restaurant kitchens, I’ve always felt a special kinship with the people who grow our food. I was fortunate to work in kitchens and with chefs whose priorities around food sourcing and policy reflected my own—Cory Schreiber, Greg Higgins, Vitaly Paley, and Scott Dolich are just a few. Sustainability, seasonality, supporting local growers, and economies—these are the issues that continue to matter most to me. Now working from my home kitchen, the impact I can make with my purchases is reduced from feeding hundreds in an evening to two, but my ambition is and always has been to empower others to make good decisions about what they eat and to get them into the kitchen.
In addition to operating markets, Portland Farmers Market serves as a leader of the local food movement, a source of education, a culinary focal point in the community, a cultural destination, an economic engine for entrepreneurs, and a beacon for Portland’s sustainability movement. The care and standards applied to selecting vendors and choosing a product mix are an important reason why the Portland Farmers Market brand is synonymous with quality, integrity, and authenticity. Area residents and chefs trust Portland Farmers Market to provide access to the best and freshest local food available; in return, they reward the market with their patronage and loyalty.
I hope that we can reward that devotion with this collection of seasonal recipes from market vendors, chefs, and shoppers, along with the vibrant photos and profiles of beloved food producers. If the Portland Farmers Market Cookbook manages to capture the essence of our market experience and transform it into something you’ll take into your own kitchen, dog-ear its pages, and use in good health, I’ll consider my part in it a success.