Home Archives July 2006 Q&A with founder of Northwest Culinary Forum

Q&A with founder of Northwest Culinary Forum

| Print |  Email
Saturday, July 01, 2006

PORTLAND – Robert Reynolds, chef, restaurant consultant and founder of the Northwest Culinary Forum in Portland, makes an annual pilgrimage to France with a small flock of students, the backdrop of his book published earlier this year, An Excuse to be Together. Once there, nestled in a small town, he proceeds to teach about cooking, quality food and its link to the land. Reynolds sees a lot of similarities between Oregon and France — and says it’s time for Oregon to step up.


Oregon Business: What’s the reputation of Oregon internationally? Do people in France recognize Oregon as a good place for food, for example, or is it more of a domestic reputation?
Robert Reynolds: There’s a quick and easy association with wine but beyond that they don’t know anything about Oregon.

Do they like Oregon wines?
You know, I don’t think it’s fair to ask the French if they like anything other than France. I’m sure they would just humor us: Oh, you make wine, how lovely. But I always bring a taste of Oregon with me when I go and I try not to bring things that they can make comparisons with, so I don’t bring pinot. I might bring something from the Rogue River Valley, a classic Bordeaux blend or something.

You formed the Northwest Culinary Forum about five years ago. What exactly is it?
The forum’s role is educational and its mission is to promote place, to promote Oregon. Whenever we do classes we bring in local people to underline the message of the ingredients and whenever we do dinners the role is always educational. I was talking the other night about this idea that people will say, “We want to eat things that come from within a radius of 100 miles.” It’s dawned on them: That’s what you can do here. There’s very little in the end that you had to borrow from somewhere else. That’s what we get to do here and that’s why Oregon reminds me of France. Tell me what we don’t have. We have everything here and we have everything really good here.

What can Oregon learn from France in terms of how to promote its food?
Do things right and really mean it. It can’t just be marketing; it has to be real. We tend to like hyperbole, but I just think that Oregon is positioned to claim the high ground, to say that we have the best and to really come through with it. The French have a system of appellation controllé, which is a guarantee of quality, and we don’t have anything like that. We’re trying to do a Brand Oregon and an Oregon identity and I think that’s the right direction, but we have to mean it. We can’t start sending out junk. 

You mentioned appellation controllé; why is that important?
The name of the thing is controlled by law. It’s like Champagne or Roquefort. If you don’t do it the way it’s written down then you don’t get to use the name. The French and the Italians base their culture on agricultural excellence. And the Italians are better than anyone in the world. You can buy Parmesan cheese anywhere on earth because they’ve succeeded controlling what it is and making it highly desirable. Parma ham is the same way or prosciutto. Where is our ham?

— Christina Williams

Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

The short list: 5 hot coffee shops for entrepreneurs

Contributed Blogs
Friday, November 14, 2014

CupojoeBY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Oregon entrepreneurs reveal their favorite caffeine hangouts.


Read more...

Reimagining education to solve Oregon's student debt and underemployment problems

News
Thursday, November 13, 2014
carsonstudentdept-thumbBY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.


Read more...

Kill the Meeting

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Meetings get a bad rap. A few local companies make them count.


Read more...

Water World

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

Fred Ziari aims to feed the global population.


Read more...

Semiconductor purgatory

News
Monday, October 06, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Intel's manufacturing way station; Merkley's attack dog; Diamond Foods gets into the innovation business.


Read more...

Podcast: Turn Things Around with David Marquet

Contributed Blogs
Friday, October 17, 2014
davidmarquet thumbBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

How can you move from a command-and-control leadership model to one of true empowerment and accountability? David Marquet did, and he took notes along the way.


Read more...

The clean fuels opportunity

News
Monday, November 10, 2014
111014-dirtyfuel-thumbBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A market for low-carbon transportation fuels has a chance to flourish in Oregon if regulators adopt the second phase of the state’s Clean Fuels Program.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS