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

What I'm Reading

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kim Ierian, President of Concorde Career Colleges, and Deborah Edward, Executive Director of Business for Culture & the Arts, share their recent reads.


Read more...

Launch

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

September's Launch article features Orchid Health, BuddyUp and Inter-Europe Consulting.


Read more...

Poll Wrap-Up

News
Friday, August 15, 2014

2014 NewPoll-report-newsletterthumbIn this week's poll, we asked readers: "Who should pay for the troubled Cover Oregon website?" Here are the results.


Read more...

Video: The 100 Best Survey

News
Thursday, August 28, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1OB Research Editor Kim Moore shares some pointers about the 100 Best Companies to Work For survey.


Read more...

Managing family assets: The importance of planning ahead

News
Friday, August 22, 2014
Unknown-1BY CLIFF HOCKLEY |  OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

When business intersects with family, a host of  situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.


Read more...

Tight and Loose

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY JENNIFER MARGULIS

As schools implement more rigorous academic standards, holistic and flexible approaches to K-12 education flourish.


Read more...

Buyer's Remorse

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Parents and students paying for college today are like homeowners who bought a house just before the housing bubble burst.


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