IACP 2010, Portland

It’s a good sign that I’m exhausted.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of IACP 2010, mellow or wild? Attending one class last year in Denver gave me a teasing taste-enough to make sure I’d attend Portland top to bottom, but hardly the bite necessary to know the full flavor of the conference.

Let me say now that I’m in awe of Portland, excited about the future of IACP and anxious to get to Austin. I ate fresh fresh food (from line out the door bistro to parking lot food cart) and got some great R&R (Reichl and Ruhlman), but it was the hallway handshaking and late night babbling that proved IACP’s wealth and worth. On the first day Kat Flinn pointed out the importance of introducing yourself and meeting the other attendees, and during my last session Derek Richmond highlighted what draws us together: we are all entrepreneurs. Regardless of our focus, whether we write books or raise hens, what unites us at IACP is out commitment to change. I like my ideas to be as fresh as my food. IACP 2010 was the place to kick the processed and prepackaged habits and get back to truly creative thinking and eating.

It isn’t a new concept, but Captain Reichl’s call to “vote with our dollars” still has me thinking about my individual influence on the US food market. We all know that the bureaucratic roadblocks are high and wide when it comes to FDA reform, but I have the opportunity everyday to skirt those barriers with my wallet. I don’t have to wait for the laws to come down from the top to change Big Agro, let’s force the issue from the bottom-up. Sir Ruhlman’s exclamation that “it might be fundamental to our humanity that we take an hour and spend it with our family in the kitchen” could not be closer to my heart. We vote with our money and time, I choose fresh food and home cooking. You?

Not that eating out has to be a federal offense. With its spectacular farm-to-table restaurants, Portland was an AbFab host for IACP 2010. A late night dinner at Higgins showcased the excellence happening all over this city. Outstanding flavors, giant portions, reasonable prices and ethical eating. From the coffee shops (Coffee Plant, all gluten free!) to the hip restaurants (Pok Pok was a twitter darling this week), more than impressed I was proud. Proud to be a diner, proud to be voting with my dollars for local candidates.

And now that the conference is over, I’m already thinking about next year. One of the most rewarding sessions I attended was Kids in the Kitchen’s workshop directed by Michelle Stern on the last day of the conference. We spent the morning teaching kids to cook and then served the food to those in Portland who needed it most. During the conference we live a week of lavish eating and drinking, and it was this last workshop that really put my consumption into perspective. What better way to thank the host city that welcomed us so opulently than to give back to its most needy residents?

I challenge IACP to promote more socially engaged events like this next year in Austin. And while we’re on the topic of challenges, here are a few more: Let’s make the conference more tech savvy. Let’s add digital check-ins for the events to cut down on line-waiting. Let’s get an official IACP twitter account posting schedules and class locations. Let’s make the social media classes as useful for those who overtly use Twitter and Facebook as we’ve made it for those who are new to the tech scene. Let’s take IACP to the next level.

My thanks to all who organized the conference, it far outshone my expectations and I cannot wait to see what we can do together in Austin. It is with a lush green heart and a belly full of food and laughs that I’m leaving Portland. See y’all online, cheers!

Check back for the edited video of the conference, and thanks to everyone who let me shove a camera in their face.

Rock. Out.