In the kitchen with the late, great James Beard
As I said in a recent article for Just Out, "At 68, Robert Reynolds is the grand poobah of his own Portland-based culinary school: Chefs Studio. But to many, Reynolds is the high priest "of Portland’s food culture. It’s not just that he is an accomplished chef and teacher—Reynolds has forged a relationship to food that’s uniquely his own." In that same article I talked about a certain well-known chef. "The most famous chef to ever come out of Oregon is James Beard, widely considered the quintessential American cook and the father of American-style gourmet cooking. The late chef’s influence is so widespread that his New York home is now North America’s only historical culinary center (and the site of some kick-ass dinner parties). And the food industry in which Beard served reveres him so highly that its most prestigious award ceremony bears his name. The hope is that, in the near future, Portland will be home to a year-round public market bearing his name as well."
On the eve of the Beard's birthday, and this week's big Beard Awards in NYC, my friend Jennifer Bryman and I thought it might be nice to hear from Reynolds regarding Beard and here is what Robert had to say in his own, eloquent words:
ON BEARD'S BIRTHDAY: "James Beard remains Portland’s most famous gastronome. His birthday is May 5th. I am planning a series of walking tours this summer following James Beard’s footsteps from Pioneer Square where the Portland Hotel once existed, past the sites of former Public and Carroll markets, through part of Old Town and ending at the River. The walks will be without charge, and their purpose to keep Beard’s name, influence and contribution to Portland vibrant.
Beard wrote, “With my appearance, [my mother and her cook] developed new pride in the mastery of their art. Both wanted to instill in me a love for food, and … they offered me the most varied gastronomic experiences any child ever had."
Geography shapes our initial view of the world. My own horizon was framed by growing up in New England; for James Beard, it was Oregon.
His attachment to this place, to its people, and the foods that come from here were all of a piece.
The lessons to be drawn from a love of place are all very simple, and the message is clear. “When we say, “Life is the berries,” we know of what we speak. Our berries are still magnificent. Beard’s sense of belonging had its source in the berries, the salmon, oysters, crab, and the myriad forms of our local bounty. His travels around the world taught him that these things are not found in the same way anywhere else. Food functions as a daily reminder of how good life can be. I remember the people who mattered to me and who along the way spoke of Beard, Josephine Araldo in San Francisco, Cory Schreiber in Portland.
Beard’s birthday is coming. I think he might have stood on a corner where I stand, and paused to appreciate this lovely place. His gift of appreciation and belonging is ours for the taking.
Happy birthday, Jimmy."
|< Prev||Next >|
Last Updated (Tuesday, 03 May 2011 13:41)