If These Halls Could Talk

A little over a week ago, I had the absolute pleasure of going back to the halls I walked just two years ago at Western Culinary Institute (now Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Portland) to speak to a reluctant group of chefs in training about the importance of having the skills to write. I say reluctant (and maybe they all weren't totally so) as this group was in its classroom rotation at school for their Associate Degree. Basically, it was my firm belief that these kids would have preferred to be playing with fire in the kitchens upstairs.

When their writing instructor, Laurie Watson, contacted me, I was a bit nervous at first. Me, get in front of a classroom full of students and talk about my life in food writing? My life that's still working on itself? I did think it would be good for me as I'd never really given a presentation before, so I didn't take too much time responding.

To my surprise, I actually enjoyed putting the preso together. More often than not, I tend to get pretty hard on myself for how slowly this food writing life is coming together. I'm learning to practice patience more and more each day, but I'm definitely the type who prefers things move along much more quickly than they usually do. Anyway, as I was putting my thoughts together I did feel pretty accomplished from what I've done so far, and was glad that I had some good clips to show to the class from outlets like Citysearch and Tasting Table. I also enjoyed going into a section I had reserved just for them, which focused more on possible reactions like 'so, I just want to be a chef, I don't really need to write well'. For those reactions I was able to throw in the need to market and promote their restaurants, and that they might find themselves writing up their own menus or even drafting press releases about their venue's upcoming events. Ever want to write a cookbook? You bet they've thought about it. Did they have issues in food that they were passionate about and wanted to voice their opinions on -- salmon fishing, sustainability, organics, etc.? There are so many different angles and reasons to hone in on good writing skills. I've always believed that, even before my journey into food writing. If you can write, those skills can take you anywhere. 

The opportunity to speak to those kids felt really nice, and I wasn't even nervous during the presentation. I guess it helps as it was one part about my experience and one part about a passion I have. From what I've heard that seems to be the secret to a good presentation. At the end of class, Laurie put out a newsletter of the school's Food Writers' Club for which I'd contributed articles to while I was a student there. The best part? As the students were leaving, one of them approached me and asked me for my autograph. He said, "You just seem like you're really going somewhere." Does it get any better than that? 

Some other things I just loved this week...

  •  A food writers' dinner at The Original. I'll never deny that the perks of being involved in the food scene are second to none. And, I'll never get tired of being invited to attend food events happening around the city. The dinner at The Original was to celebrate the venue's year-plus time in Portland as well as a redesigned menu. It was fun to see some familiar faces (very typical in Portland; a small town with a LOT of foodies running around in similar circles). Our menu included a three-course dinner that kicked off with welcome cocktails. The stand-outs bites for me?: Chicken & Ham Fritters with romesco sauce, Cattail Creek Lamb Meatballs with sofrito, olives, & a grilled baguette, and Fried Apple Pie with cinnamon ice cream, caramel and thyme. Delish.

  •  Home   Coffee at the new Public Domain. The coffee shop, located at SW Alder at Broadway, just opened at the end of April. I was invited there to meet up with Amy Brown of Seed Public Relations to finally introduce ourselves in person and just chit chat about the funny world we live in. Amy also does the PR for the spot. Cute place. Incredibly fresh, airy interior that doesn't set the stage for a coffeehouse full of laptops--kind of a nice change. Public Domain is the flagship brand for Coffee Bean International. The new spot prides itself on being a resource for educating patrons about brewing, cupping and just plain enjoying great coffee. Public Domain hosts some unique special events like public cuppings daily at 1 p.m., home brewing classes (first Saturday of every month beginning on June 5) and even happy hour espresso tastings every Thursday from 4 - 6 p.m. What's more? The staff there are an absolute delight and weren't shy in telling me how much they absolutely adore working there. Now that's something you don't hear everyday. 
  • Getting the "ok" to move forward on my first write-up for the national foodie online site, Culinate.com. Clips continue to add up, and I like it. 
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