Sponsored by Oregon Business

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

Footloose

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Founded 12 years ago, Keen Inc. likes to push the envelope, starting with the debut of the “Newport” closed toe sandal in 2003. Since then, the company has opened a factory on Swan Island and a sleek new headquarters in the Pearl District. The brand’s newest offering, UNEEK, is a sandal made from two woven cords and not much more.


Read more...

The best crisis is the one you avoid

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
crisisthumbBY GARY CONKLING | GUEST BLOGGER

Avoiding a crisis is a great way to burnish your reputation, increase brand loyalty and become a market leader.


Read more...

All Rise

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Don’t just sit there. For a healthy workplace, move up and down — and all around.


Read more...

Courtside

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Power lunching at the Court Street Dairy Lunch in Salem.


Read more...

Much ado about data-driven organizations, for good reason

Contributed Blogs
Monday, April 13, 2015
bigdatathumbBY GRANT KIRBY | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

The mega-shift from technology-driven to data-driven organizations raises questions about Oregon’s workforce preparedness.


Read more...

How a Utah-based essential oils company cornered the Oregon market

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Multilevel marketing, health claims and zyto scanner biofeedback machines: How dōTERRA thrives in Oregon. 


Read more...

6 development projects reshaping Bend

The Latest
Thursday, April 09, 2015
bendthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Bend has reclaimed its prerecession title as one of the fastest growing cities in the country.


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