To be held next Saturday, July 23, 2011, at Alton Baker Park from 11-10 p.m., the festival features small “bites” of food from many of our best restaurants and catering outfits, many for only a dollar or two, as well as local wine and beer. There’s stuff for kids to do and music for entertainment throughout the day. The festival gets its inspiration from the famed Bite of Oregon in Portland, which has been offering gourmands these treats since 1984. This year, we have a generous title sponsor, American Family Insurance, and a beneficiary of the philanthropy of AFI and citizen donors, The Willamette Farm and Food Coalition.
I’m extremely proud to be emceeing the Iron Chef Eugene competition this year. Pretending to be Chairman Kaga of the original Japanese television show, Iron Chef, has been a hobby of mine since the 1990s; actually getting to BE the Chairman is a dream of monumental proportions.
Actually, Eugene Magazine publisher and event promoter Steve Olivier is technically the Chairman, since he’s organizing the competition. But he’s not likely willing to wear a brocade cape and cowhide shirt or demolish a pepper in front of a the Kitchen Stadium he’s created with his great wealth and gastronomic passion to host battles of chef gladiators vying for culinary supremacy.
A role just created for yours truly.
I was a judge last year; you can read my recounting of the championship battle here.
This year, I’ll be moderating battles between Iron Chef Heidi Tunnell of Heidi Tunnell Catering Co. and Iron Chef Mike Meyer of Red Agave (2:30 p.m.); and Iron Chef Shane Tracey of Nib Modern Eatery and Iron Chef Max Schwartz of Agate Alley’s Laboratory (4:30). The championship match at 6:30 will take place between the winners of the earlier battles.
The lucky judges this year are Iron Chef Oregon 2010 Gabriel Gil (Rabbit Bistro) (above right, battling Chef Adam Bernstein), KLCC’s “Food for Thought” hosts Ryan Stotz (Marché Provisions) and Boris Wiedenfeld (Sundance Wine Cellars), winemakers Jeff Kandarian (King Estate) and Capitello Winery’s Ray Walsh, wine writer Lance Sparks, chef/instructor Clive Wanstall (LCC Culinary Program), Joel Pomerantz (Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association), and title sponsor American Family Insurance’s Zinzi Blackbeard.
Look for my article in the Register-Guard food section on Wednesday with contestant interviews and more details about the competition!
We’re all genuinely excited about the competition, and the entire festival promises to be fun for all ages — anyone with an interest in local food or just a passion for blowup jump houses.
The Willamette Farm and Food Coalition is seeking volunteers, so you can be a part of the team, too. Capes optional:
The Bite of Eugene is organized and hosted by Eugene Magazine, and Willamette Farm and Food Coalition has been named beneficiary. This year’s corporate sponsor, American Family Insurance, has offered to gift WFFC $3,000 in addition to matching the donations made at the gate.WFFC wants to counter this generosity by offering some volunteer support.
They are looking for volunteers to cover the following bike valet shifts (yes, that means parking bikes!): 10am -1pm, 1-4, 4-7, 7-10.
They are also looking for volunteers to work in the kids’ area and oversee the traffic in the blowup jump houses (the same four shifts as above).
And don’t forget, you should visit the restaurants competing in Iron Chef Eugene so you can judge for yourself.