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Oregon’s Best Chefs Dominate James Beard NW Nominations

The sassy and irreverent Portland-Man-About-Town Byron Beck nailed it Monday in his blogpost “Chefs Night Out: Beard Celebration & Ace After Party“, when he described Sunday’s James Beard in Oregon Dinner at the Multnomah Athletic Club as being “the food equivalent of the Battle of the Network Stars.”

As beautiful Jennifer Heigl of Daily Blender eloquently stated in her article “Portland Hosts James Beard Awards Pre-Announcement Soiree“, it was the “must-attend spring event in Stumptown”, bringing together in community our best culinarians, foodies and food media, hipster elite and high society (the Schnitzer’s bought the first VIP table).

MAC Executive Chef Philippe Boulot was in fine form, even with arm in sling from a reputed vehicle accident, hobknobbing with every VIP guest and almost everyone else. As host, the MAC’s food station was glamorous, befitting the societal stature the club enjoys here in Portland.

Oregon’s “Culinary Old Guard”, including Philippe, Vitaly Paley, Greg Higgins, Cory Schreiber, Cathy Whims and the culinary team of Caprial & John Pence pressed flesh and passed foods, receiving foodie-love like Eric Clapton or Paul Simon at an Earth Day concert. What a pleasure – for me – having been away from Oregon from 1995-2009, to bear witness to these fine chefs thriving so well. We’re so fortunate in Oregon to live in the food-Eden of North America, leading the US in local chef/local farmer philosophy for thirty years.

The other chefs being honored – Daniel Mondok, Matthew Lighter, Charlene Rollins, Scott Dolich, Stephanie Pearl Kimmel, Andy Ricker, Christopher Israel, Oswaldo Bibiano, Jenn Louis, John Gorham, Gabriel Rucker, Jack Czarnecki and Naomi Pomeroy – I have only just begun to get to know over the last two years. It is a distinct pleasure to begin knowing you all.

Nicky USA, perhaps the best meat purveyor in North America, led by the venerable and determined Geoff and Melody Latham, rolled up in style to both the MAC and the Clyde Commons after-party in a stretch white Expedition (yes, I did get to sneak in for a sip of whiskey).

In beverages, while local coffee was not represented, Widmer Bros, Willamette Valley Vineyards, House Spirits, Sokol Blosser, Hawks View Cellars and Anne Amie Vineyards provided delicious sips for a crowd estimated at 650 or so.

Social Media Coverage

Active social media coverage began months ago with a team led by Oregon Culinary Institute and Chalkboarder. Numerous video interviews were produced by Kevin Richards of OCI and distributed on the James Beard in Oregon Facebook Fanpage. The Twitter account @beardinoregon spear-headed the Twitter hashtag #jbfa into Portland’s trending Twitter topic all evening, by tweeting the night’s program in the hours leading up to the dinner.

James Beard Foundation 2011 Nomination Announcement Lunch

For a great description of the media-only lunch at Oregon Culinary Institute on Monday, where James Beard Foundation read-out the final nomination announcements, please visit Daily Blender’s blogpost “Oregon Culinary Welcomes the 2011 James Beard Award Finalist Announcements“. Nice write up over there.

Congratulations are in order to Gabriel Rucker for being one of five Rising Star Chef of the Year nominees. A pleasure to know you, Chef.

Oregon led the category Best Chef Northwest, with nominations going to Christopher Israel, Cathy Whims and Andy Ricker.

Finally, appreciation is due to the students of Oregon Culinary Institute – you represented yourselves with professional distinction in assisting the Chefs, MAC Club, Lane PR and James Beard Foundation in executing this high-profile event.

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James Beard in Oregon

A significant feather in Oregon’s culinary hat occurs this spring in Portland. On March 20th, the James Beard Foundation brings together the five James Beard Award and fourteen James Beard Nominee Chefs at the Multnomah Athletic Club to celebrate the icon of American cooking, James Beard, at an event open to the public called James Beard in Oregon.

In conjunction with this event, the James Beard Foundation will announce their 2011 National Nominees, on Monday, March 21st, from the campus of Oregon Culinary Institute.

As a former chef who apprenticed to past Chefs de Cuisine Society of Oregon ACF Chapter President (and international competitor) David Strouts, it is with great humility that I share my company’s involvement in this event.

I have asked Chalkboarder’s closest ally, Scene Marketing Group, led by the talented and vivacious Shannon Pratuch, to partner together in our supporting role to Oregon Culinary Institute and Lane PR – in collaborative execution of an exciting social media strategy for this event. The focus here, is on James Beard’s heritage from Oregon, as America’s Master Chef.

The focus is on those nineteen Oregon Chefs who have received James Beard Awards and Nominations. This event is about their accomplishments. We are extremely excited to be part of social web coverage and promotion of this recognition of the culinary talent in, what I call, the Culinary Eden of North America, Oregon.

Following on the heels of the International Association of Culinary Professionals international conference (Spring 2010) here in Portland, numerous accolades from major media about Oregon’s culinary prowess and CNN Travel stating that Portland has the hottest street food scene in the world, we are truly blessed to live and eat well here.

Beginning today, I assume significant responsibility in co-tweeting from @BeardInOregon. The social media team, led by Oregon Culinary Institute, and in very close collaboration with Lane PR and the James Beard Foundation, have planned a dynamic social media strategy.

Please join all of us in celebrating these talented Oregon Chefs for their accomplishments. More information can be found on the James Beard in Oregon website, Facebook page and Twitter account. Stay tuned there for lots and lots of fun! Jeffrey J Kingman