Podcast Episode 68: The Foodworx Conference in Portland, Oregon


An interview with Erik Wolf


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Erik Wolf

Erik Wolf

In this episode of the Find Dining Podcast, Erik Wolf, the Founder of the World Food Travel Association, joins us to talk about the upcoming Foodworx Conference in Portland, Oregon. We discuss  the state of the food tourism industry, the difference between diners and cooks, and psycho-culinary profiles.


(Photos are of the World Food Travel Summit in Sweden)

 

Food for Thought:

  • Q: What percentage of foodies identify themselves as “gourmet”?
  • A: 8.1%

Out of the Frying Pan Picks:

Transcript:

Seth:  This is Episode Number 68 of Taste Trekkers Find Dining Podcast.  Welcome to the Foodworx Conference in Portland, Oregon.

 

Hello and welcome to the Find Dining Podcast.  This is the podcast for foodies who love travel and travelers who love food.  I’m your host.  My name is Seth Resler.  And a couple of notes before we start the show, first of all, please, please, please subscribe to this podcast in iTunes.  It helps other people discover the show and while you’re there, you can leave a review.  Also, we are now getting all of these episodes up on YouTube, so you can subscribe to our YouTube channel and you can find the podcasts there as well and share them over social media and things like that.

 

Today, we’re very excited.  We are joined by Erik Wolf.  He is the founder of the World Food Travel Association and he also producing the Foodworx Conference which is happening for the second year now.  It’s happening Tuesday, February 4th in Portland Oregon.  Erik, thank you so much for joining us.

 

Erik:  Hey, Seth.  My pleasure.

 

Seth:  This is really exciting.  It’s great to have somebody who knows as much about food tourism as you do on the show and I’m really excited to hear about everything you’re doing and including this fantastic conference.  But before we get to that, we always start, always, for the trivia question and I know you’ve got one for me, so let’s go.

 

Erik:  I do.  Okay.  So today’s trivia question is what percent of foodies have labeled themselves as being gourmet or liking gourmet only stuff?

 

Seth:  What percentage of foodies have labeled themselves as liking gourmet?

 

Erik:  Yeah, as opposed to just regular good food or authentic good food or something like that.  You know, what percent of foodies self identify as having a gourmet profile?

 

Seth:  So what we’re really asking is how many of foodies are actually snobs, right?  Is that what we’re asking?

 

Erik:  Well, no.  No, no.  Not necessarily snobs because that implies certain kind of behavior, but people who really prefer the more premium experiences, so that could be a premium winery or a really exclusive restaurants or, you know, meeting with the chef kind of thing or that, you know, exclusive food tour in like one-on-one VIP style.  That’s what we’re talking about.

 

Seth:  I will say this, yeah, you know, I do know there are several different types of foodies and, for example, I know that a lot of the foodies that have come to our Mystery Meet events tend to be the people who like more upscale restaurants like trying new things like that and, you know, save up their money to go to a Michelin Star restaurant.  And then you got somebody like my brother-in-law who’s a total foodie but he loves the hole in the wall ethnic places.  You know what I mean?  He loves looking for that perfect, you know, Vietnamese Banh mi that’s like $2.  And so he wouldn’t, I don’t think, identify himself as gourmet even though he’s a total foodie.

 

So the question is how many are like my brother-in-law and how many are not?

 

Erik:  Indeed.

 

Seth:  All right.  I’m going to think about that for a little bit.

 

Erik:  All right.

 

Seth:  I’m going to come back to that question.  While I’m thinking about that, let’s talk a little bit about food tourism.  So with this, what is food tourism exactly?

 

Erik:  Well, food tourism is the pursuit in enjoyment of unique and memorable food and drink experiences both near and far.  So what that means is that you can still be a foodie in your own – sorry, a food traveler in your own town if you go into a neighborhood that you haven’t been to before.

 

Seth:  So this sounds to me like something that a lot of people do even if they don’t know that they do it.  Is that a fair statement?  I mean, you know, I sort of found that people go, “Oh, I didn’t know there was a word for that but I totally do that.”

 

Erik:  Yeah.  I think that that’s very true.  We discovered when we were using the word foodie a few years ago that a lot of people who really were foodies didn’t identify themselves as such.  They didn’t like using that word because they thought that meant that they were more pretentious or, you know, exclusive or elitist and that’s not how we use the term.  I mean, foodie is just anyone who loves food, so, you know, you’re talking about your relative who just likes that great $2 banh mi.  I mean, that’s – we would label them as being authentic.  There’s actually 13 different what we call psycho-culinary profiles.

 

Seth:  Whoa.  So you’re really making a science out of this?

 

Erik:  Well, there is a science behind it, yeah.  We did some research back in 2009 and ‘10 and we surveyed 11,000 consumers around the world and devised 13 different profiles and that’s where I was going back with that gourmet question.  Gourmet is one of them.  Authentic is another.  Novice is another.  Ambiance is another.  Vegetarian is another.  So you’ve got all these different ways that people make food purchase decisions.

 

And so you can have up to three major and three minor ones, so you know, you might be more authentic, localist and organic and someone else might be gourmet, ambiance, and something else.  And that’s why when your friends recommend a restaurant and you go and you don’t like it, that’s the reason for the disconnect, it’s because they had a different psycho-culinary profile from you.

 

Seth:  Walk me through some of the psycho-culinary profiles.  I mean, let’s start with novice.  What is that exactly?

 

Erik:  Novice is for someone who’s really brand new to the whole notion of food or food tourism or anything like that.  They don’t know the terms.  They might be a little put off by the idea of going to a fancy restaurant or trying, you know, some food that they might call strange.  It’s all really new to them and they just don’t – you know, they don’t really know where to go with this.

 

Seth:  Okay.  So what is authentic then?

 

Erik:  Authentic is just what it sounds like, people who like a truly authentic experience.  So, you know, if you’re going to Mexico, you want to have truly Mexican cuisine, an Americanized version of Mexican cuisine.

 

Seth:  Got you.  So this is somebody who, you know, might want really street that’s very authentic, that’s really from the region.

 

Erik:  Exactly.

 

Seth:  And then you said ambiance.  What is that?

 

Erik:  Ambiance is someone who, for them, it’s perhaps more about the setting of the restaurant, you know, the décor, the view, that kind – you know, how the service is, the setting, that’s really more what’s important to them.

 

Seth:  Now, is there a way that I can figure out what my psychographic is?  Can I take like a, you know, Cosmo quiz that will tell me?

 

Erik:  Well, we actually did have this online a couple of years ago, but then the research project closed, so it’s not online right now unfortunately.

 

Seth:  So what does this mean, my psychographic, in terms of shaping my food travels?  If I know that I’ve got a certain psychographic, how would I then use that information to plan my trips?

 

Erik:  Well, it’s not something that we really market to consumers.  We do have plans in the future to do so.  But I think at this point, for your listeners, what, the important thing is that it’s just helps them to understand that there’s different kinds of food experiences.  So you can be a foodie and not be gourmet oriented.  You’d be aware and open to the idea that when you travel that, you know, you might want to go for an authentic experience or, you know, here’s a queue to check up the local offers, you know.

 

It kills me when a lot of people travel and they’ll stop in at a big chain coffee or burger place and I just say, “You know, you get those at home.”  I mean, I was working on a project in Singapore and across the street from the hotel was a shopping mall and I was so excited to go over there and go into the grocery store there and I came out and I saw a Starbucks there and I thought, “Wow, here I am in Singapore.  I flew all the way to have Starbucks.”

 

Seth:  Right, right.  I’ve done that.

 

Erik:  And I actually did have to have one because, you know, for me, it’s research to see how it compares to the coffee back home and it was identical.  I mean, you know, you could talk about the water being different, the air and pollen in the air being different and, you know, maybe different batch of coffee beans.  It doesn’t matter, it tastes exactly the same.

 

Seth:  So, I know you use a lot of your research for sort of B2B consulting, consulting businesses that are in the food and travel industry.  How could a business use this information, this psychographic information?

 

Erik:  Well, we actually are in the process of introducing this to tourism offices around the world.  We call it The Food Personality and it’s on our website, explains a little bit about how businesses are using that.  But what we found in that research we did back in 2010 is that cities have certain profiles.  So, for example, I’m just looking right now at our website, New York City was gourmet, trendy, and social but San Francisco was localist, organic and innovative.

 

So what that means is the majority of the respondents from those cities were of those profiles.  So to give you an example of something different, Shanghai was authentic, eclectic, and trendy.  Sydney was eclectic, authentic, and trendy.

 

Seth:  Huh, that’s really interesting.  So talk to me about the World Food Travel Association.  I mean, what is the history of the organization?  What is your mission?  What do you do?

 

Erik:  We’ve been around for about 10 years.  We rebranded a couple of years ago.  We used to be the International Culinary Tourism Association and the reason for the rebranding was that when you hear the word culinary in English, it sounds a bit high-end and we’re really not about that.  We’re just about authentic, you know, preserving culinary cultures around the world.  That’s kind of what we do.  Our tagline is, “Eat Well and, Travel Better” and everything that we do or produce supports that tagline.

 

But we found that people were misunderstanding what we were all about, so we rebranded and have had nothing but great success with the new name, The World Food Travel Association.

 

Seth:  So you have actual clients that you do consulting work with?  Is that what happens?  Or I know you’re doing research projects, what’s going on?

 

Erik:  Yeah.  We do different things.  We work with tourism offices, so it might be the food personality that we talked about or food tourism destination strategy.  We also do experience assessments which are like mystery shopping or secret shopping sometimes it’s called where we’ll go to a destination and do an assessment either of the destination or hotels or restaurants or wineries or breweries in the destination.

 

Seth:  So let’s say I work in a tourism office for a particular city and I assume we’re mostly talking about on the city level or is it sometimes on the state or even federal level?

 

Erik:  Yeah, it’s at national, regional and city levels.  We do work with foreign governments around the world.  We’re doing some work with Ecuador right now.  We work with the province of Alberta in the past.  Visit Sweden.  So it depends.

 

Seth:  Okay.  So let’s say I work in a tourism office for a city.  I want to attract people to my city and I want to use food to do it.  I’ve decided that, you know, “Hey, we’ve got some great food stuff,” and I come to you and where do we start?

 

Erik:  I think the question would be to ask, you know, have you done an asset inventory, do you know what your food and drink resources are and also, is your destination the primary, secondary or tertiary destination for food.  And the primary destination would be like in San Francisco or New York, you know.  It’s a city that’s already known for food.  People will travel there for the restaurants or, you know, cooking classes or whatever.  It’s, you know, like Napa people, it’s known as a food destination.

 

Secondary culinary destination is the kind of place where people – it’s still a great food destination but people may not expect that in advance, so places like Bologna, Italy or Portland, Oregon or Singapore.  You know, you’ll have a great food experience there but you were probably going to that destination for some other reason first.

 

Seth:  Right.

 

Erik:  And you happen to discover the great food while you were there.  And then a tertiary foodie destination might be a more rural place like Durango, Colorado that still has a great food scene but is, you know, more remote, might be on the countryside or the mountains, not near any major population centers or airports and you really would need to be looking for it to find it.

 

Seth:  Now, how big is food tourism exactly?  I mean, how many people are doing this and how much business are we talking about for destinations?

 

Erik:  Well, research that we’ve done in the past has shown us to be about $150 billion a year industry in our country alone.

 

Seth:  That’s a lot.

 

Erik:  Yeah, it’s a pretty huge industry.  And if you think about the fact that about one-quarter of what people spend on their travel budgets is on food and drink.  So, you know, just is a really easy rule of thumb, you just take the visitor’s spending in an area or visitor’s spending on travel for a country or whatever it is, you know, multiply it by one-quarter and that’s what people are spending on food and drink while traveling in that area.

 

Seth:  Wow.  That’s amazing.  Now, in all the research you’ve done, what’s sort of the most surprising thing that you’ve learned or are there any big misconceptions about food tourism?

 

Erik:  Well, there are a lot misconceptions.  I think the biggest one is that it’s all about the high-end experiences.  People I think overlook the authentic or the local a lot and they misunderstand, so we’re always educating people about what it really means to be involved in food tourism.  Some surprises I think that we found are that the market is very different in North America and even Latin America than it is elsewhere.  It’s kind of divided into old world and new world where you’ve got, you know, like even Australian, New Zealand, they’re new world, you know.  United States is new world.  Canada is new world.

 

So you have things like large immigrant influence, no real traditional cuisine although I think we do have several traditional cuisines in the U.S.  But, you know, Australia, for example, or Canada are really having a hard time identifying what their cuisines are.

 

Seth:  It’s Vegemite, isn’t it?

 

Erik:  Well, that’s one of the products from down there but – so, and then there – and the chefs from those countries are trying to make a stand and say, well, what does it mean to have Canadian cuisine, for example.  And part of it is using the ingredients, but also they’re going back to the roots and finding a lot of their ethnic immigrant influences whereas, you know, if you turned to a place like Sweden or Italy or Spain where, you know, those cultures have been around for hundreds or thousands of years.  You know, that cuisine has evolved over time and it’s pretty much what it is.

 

Seth:  All right.  Fantastic.  All right.  So we’re going to come back in a minute and we’re going to talk about the Foodworx Conference that you’ve got coming up on February 4th in Portland because I know that you’re going to delve into a lot of these topics a lot more deeply there.  So we’re going to find out everything that’s going to happen.  We’re also going to play a game called Out of the Frying Pan and we’ll going to get the answer to your trivia question.  We’re going to find out how many foodies self-identified as gourmet.  That’s coming up in just a second.

 

Before we get back to Erik to talk about the Foodworx Conference that he’s got coming up in Portland, Oregon, a couple of notes.  First of all, we are working on a number of things here over at Taste Trekkers that we can’t wait to unveil, the first of them is going to be the Taste Trekkers Food and Travel Blog.  It’s going to be very exciting.  I will have details for you shortly.

 

Also, you of course, can continue to support this podcast.  One of the best ways you can do that is to head over to iTunes and subscribe the podcasts in iTunes.  Leave a review while you’re there, that helps other people discover the show.  And you can also follow us on social media.  We are on Facebook.  We are on Twitter.  We are on Pinterest.  We are on Instagram.  We are everywhere.  We’ve got our own YouTube channel.  You can find all of these podcast interviews up on our YouTube channel as well.  So just follow us and do us a favor, tell other people about this podcast.  If you enjoy it, shoot an email over to somebody you know who is a foodie, somebody who plans their vacations around food and say, “Hey, I think you’d really dig this podcast.  Check it out.”

 

We are talking to Erik Wolf.  He is the founder of the World Food Travel Association and he is also producing the Foodworx Conference which is happening on Tuesday, February 4th in Portland, Oregon.  Erik, before we talk about that Foodworx Conference, you had a trivia question for me, what is it one more time?

 

Erik:  What percent of foodies self identify as being gourmet?

 

Seth:  What percentage of foodies self identify as being gourmet?  I suspect that in your research, you found out that it is actually less than people would think.  There’s an assumption that you have to be gourmet to be a foodie that you have to go to Michelin Star restaurants and that, in fact, you know, like we were talking about, there’s actually a lot of other psychographic profiles.

 

Erik:  That’s right.

 

Seth:  So I’m going to guess that it’s smaller than you would think but how small?

 

Erik:  Do you want to wager a guess there?

 

Seth:  I’ll say 20%.

 

Erik:  Well, it’s actually 8.1%.

 

Seth:  It’s even less than I thought.

 

Erik:  It is and this is something that I think blows everyone away when they hear this because we have a certification program and a lot of the students will do business plans for a food tour company, for example.  And everyone, 100% of the time they started off saying, “Well, our target market is the affluent traveler, household income of $100,000 plus per year and, you know, all that stuff.”  And they’re missing the boat.  I mean, we have to help them to understand that everyone likes good food and you don’t have to be rich.  I mean, our research that we’ve done in the past has shown that the average income of food travelers is about $55,000 a year.  That’s pretty average.

 

Obviously, if you have more discretionary income, you can do more, but you can still be a foodie and go to the food carts here in Portland or, you know, the street food in Hawker Stand in Singapore and other different places.  You don’t need to be rich to be a foodie.

 

Seth:  Can I ask, something that I have found just in the course of doing this podcast and a lot of things that we’ve done is that there are foodies who are diners and there are foodies who are cookers.  And there’s obviously some overlap between the two but not – for example, I’m a diner, I like to go out, I will try new restaurants, I will try new everything but I don’t, you know, I don’t get fancy in the kitchen when I cook at home.

 

And then I know, you know, some people like my brother-in-law who I mentioned, he’s a cooker, you know.  And he’s got two kids so he doesn’t, you know, get a lot of opportunities to eat out at restaurants, but he loves experimenting with cooking.  Do you find that in what you do and what does that mean?

 

Erik:  You know, that’s a really interesting observation.  I had never really noticed that before but I think you’re probably right.  And I think that a city like Portland, for example, is probably a combination of both and I know I talked to chefs in the city here and they’ll complain that locals don’t eat out as much as they think they should.  And I think it’s true, here in Portland, we’re great cooks at home, we’ve got great ingredients even at the regular grocery store, you get great produce and stuff and there’s a lot of artisanal stores around, so you’ve got a butcher shop and a cheese shop and so on.  And we’re a city of cooks that, you know, sometimes we eat out as well and…

 

Seth:  See, I’m a chef’s dream because I’m a crappy cook but I’m a great – I love to eat.

 

Erik:  There you go.  There you go.  Okay.  You know, it’s got to have both, right?

 

Seth:  Right.  Definitely.  All right.  So let’s talk about this conference that you’ve got coming out.  This is the second year that you’ve done this and actually, you’ve also done another conference – you did it in Sweden late last year, right?

 

Erik:  Yeah, that was the World Food Travel Summit.

 

Seth:  Okay.  So let’s talk about that first, what happened there?

 

Erik:  The World Food Travel Summit is a – it’s the world’s largest gathering for food tourism professionals, so it’s all – it’s entirely B2B.  It’s education.  It’s networking.  It’s business to business appointments.  It’s a little bit of tradeshow stuff going on as well.

 

Seth:  Okay.  When we say food tourism professionals, we’re talking those people in tourism offices like you mentioned before.  Are we also talking chefs?  Are we talking people who offer food tours?  Who are we talking about?

 

Erik:  Anyone in the food, drink, travel or hospitality industry which can include, you know, small producers, restaurants, wineries, tourism offices, national tourist boards, trade associations, food events, you name it.

 

Seth:  Now, who are the big players in this field because it doesn’t seem like an Olive Garden or a Coca Cola or a Budweiser would fit into this?

 

Erik:  No, I think the big players tend to be first and foremost the tourism offices are kind of the tip of the iceberg when it comes to food tourism, so they got members or constituents if they don’t have membership dues.  And they’re the ones that are in a position to be able to drive this.  And if it’s not them, then it might a trade association like the Province of Nova Scotia.  In Canada, they have the taste of Nova Scotia and that’s kind of a trade association for the 300 or so producers across the province and they’re the ones who are really driving the tourism, in cooperation also with the tourism office, but they’ve really taken the lead to direct that in that province.

 

Seth:  Does the fact that food tourism tends to emphasize the local, it tends of emphasize the authentic, it tends to emphasize sort of the mom and pop, you know, whether it’s a restaurant or food producer or cheese producer or wine maker, does that preclude big players from being in the industry?  Does that mean that, you know, you aren’t going to see Kraft Foods in food tourism?  Does that mean that you aren’t going to see, you know, Coca Cola in food tourism.

 

Erik:  I think what we’re saying is that – some of the bigger companies are starting to get into more of these things.  Restaurants like Chipotle, they are now starting to focus on locally sourced and environmentally responsible packaging and so on and that vein of behavior is now starting to show itself.  So – and this is something that is going to give the smaller independent businesses run for their money.  I mean, it’s no longer the locals who are just doing this and caring about sourcing locally, high quality ingredients, eco-friendly packaging.

 

You know, the big companies are and in many cases, some of the big companies are the ones even driving some of these choices.

 

Seth:  So tell me about Foodworx, tell me about this conference.  What’s going to happen there?

 

Erik:  Well, Foodworx is the future of food and what we try to do at Foodworx is look at issues in and around the food and drink industry from angles that have not been looked at before.  So, we do have four pillars of subjects around food, so you’ve got food and economy; food and environment; food and health; and food and society.  So we try to put all of those different talks at Foodworx into one of those buckets if you will and look at some of those issues from never before looked at angles.

 

Seth:  And who is showing up at this event?  Is this again the same B2B players that were at the event in Sweden?

 

Erik:  No, it’s completely open to anyone who loves great food and cares about what they put in their body and where the food comes from.  So it’s consumers, it’s trade, it’s media, it’s academics, it’s anyone.

 

Seth:  Okay.  And where is this being held in Portland?

 

Erik:  It’s being held at the Armory, the Historic Gerding Theater at the Armory which is downtown in the Pearl District.

 

Seth:  So walk me through the schedule.  What happens when I show up and what does the day look like?

 

Erik:  Doors open at 7:30 and the first 250 people will be greeted by a hot cup of Water Avenue Coffee and a little breakfast treat from one of our local bakeries.  And then the talks start at 8:30 and we have a lovely emcee, her name is Deirdre Campbell and she’s from the Tartan Group PR Firm in Victoria, BC.  She is a very respected PR professional in Canada, in the tourism industry and knows everybody.  She’s a lovely person to work with and she’ll kick off the day and she’ll introduce our speakers who really range huge gamut.

 

We’ve got someone like Dana Gunders from the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco talking about why she is a food warrior or worrier.  You’ve got someone like Tommy Habetz who is the owner of Bunk’s Sandwiches in Portland and he’ll be talking on the foodie entrepreneur panel.  So the day is peppered with short 20-minute talks, kind of in the TED style.  We even have one of the local high schools who’s going to be singing songs about food and drink for one of the sessions.  So it’s kind of a different spin on things.

 

And then in terms of food and drink because everybody got to have good food and drink, everybody wants to know what we’re serving, I told you how we’re going to start the day.  The middle of the day is cascading cuisine lunch featuring local ingredients produced by a local caterer.  And then at 3:30, there’s the cascading cuisine reception which is featuring food and drink products from around the region.

 

Seth:  And if people want to see some of the talks from last year, can they go online and sort of get feel for what happened?

 

Erik:  Yeah, easily.  If they just go to the FoodworxConference.com website which is F-O-O-D-W-O-R-X, so Foodworx with an X conference.com and they just go to Foodworx story and then there’s a tab that says 2013 Foodworx videos and they can have a look.

 

Seth:  Now, which talks are you most excited about?  I mean, I know you’re excited about all of them, but highlight a couple of them for me.

 

Erik:  Well, I think the entrepreneur panel is going to be exciting.  There’s a lot of people who are interested in getting into the food business.  They want to make something or produce something like a nut butter or, you know, there’s someone who does a healthy kind of alternative energy bar here in town.  I think that’s going to be fascinating.  I am really looking forward to the kids singing.  I think that will be different and, you know, fun.

 

And then last year, we had this guy David Howitt talked and he work for a VC company here in Portland and this company, the Meriweather Group, has really started to get more into the food and drink business and really paying attention to what Portland is doing in that arena and he was such a great speaker.  He talked last year and he kind of brings an attitude of Zen towards business and, you know, kind of this whole karma thing and being content with what you’re doing and do unto others and he’s just a great speaker.

 

But, gosh, I mean, we’re so blessed to have so many wonderful speakers and gosh, Lisa Schroeder, she is such a small business hotshot here in town.  She is a restaurant owner.  She’s known and loved by everyone in town.  Everybody knows Lisa.  You don’t even need to use her last name.  We’re just going to have so many great speakers.  It’s going to be an awesome day.

 

Seth:  Oh, that sounds fantastic.  Now, people want to get tickets, where can they go for that?

 

Erik:  Same thing, the FoodworxConference.com website, up in the upper right corner it says, buy tickets and that’s where they can do it.  They’re only $99 until January 24.

 

Seth:  And it’s Foodworx Conference, worx is with an X.

 

Erik:  That’s correct.

 

Seth:  All right.  Are you ready to play a little game?

 

Erik:  Indeed.

 

Seth:  Okay.  This game is called Out of the Frying Pan.  Here’s how it works, I’m going to ask you for a series of rapid fire questions.  Of course, we’re going to be talking about Portland, Oregon because that’s where you are and where the Foodworx Conference is.  So just tell me the first thing that pops into your mind.  Are you ready?

 

Erik:  I’ll try.

 

Seth:  All right.  So if I’m coming up for the Foodworx Conference in February and I really – there’s one neighborhood that I’ve got to explore for the cuisine in Portland, what is it?

 

Erik:  Well, I would have to start you off squarely downtown and kind of the epicenter of food central in Portland is the Food Carts at 10th and Alder.  We call it a pod and it’s just basically a square city block in a chockfull of food carts and I think that’s where your food journey in Portland should start.

 

Seth:  Now, the food truck scene is amazing, like, it’s got something like 900 food trucks up there, right?

 

Erik:  Yeah.  We’ve lost track.  I gave up at 700.  I mean, it’s just – it’s crazy.

 

Seth:  Do you have a particular favorite?

 

Erik:  Gosh, there’s a lot of good ones.  There’s Nong’s Khao Man Gai which is a Thai street food classic and then, of course, Whiffies Fried Pies, go for the peanut butter and chocolate one.  Very nice.

 

Seth:  That sounds good.  All right.  What about farmers markets?  I mean, I know you got a lot of farms up there in the Portland area.  Do you have a great farmers market that you like to go to?

 

Erik:  Well, the one downtown by PSU or Portland State University is kind of the classic.  That’s the one that everybody knows and talks about and it’s a great market.  But the city is chockfull of farmers markets, so the Hollywood District has one, Lake Oswego has one, Beaverton has one, all the suburbs, you know.

 

The nice thing about Portland is it’s not a huge city, so you can drive for 30 minutes and you’re out at a farm already and it’s easy for the farmers to get into town to sell their goods.  So we’ve got them throughout the city.

 

Seth:  Now, when I come to a city, I would like to go out to eat at a place that’s got a great view.  Is there a restaurant with a fantastic view that we should check out?

 

Erik:  You know, the one that probably most people recommend is the Portland City Grill which is on the top of the U.S. Bank building.  They’ve got a great popular happy hour.  But I might recommend the restaurant that’s overlooking the river, there’s the Avalon Grill which is, you know, kind of nice for that.  But it’s so hard.  There are so many great places around that.  Just picking one, you know – well, Timberline Lodge, hello, for the view up there, that would be number one.

 

Seth:  All right.  So we’ve got quite a few choices.

 

Erik:  Yeah.

 

Seth:  Are you seeing any trends there in Portland, anything that’s new that’s coming up to people are starting to do?

 

Erik:  Well, I do think that one of the things that Portland does do well is innovate and, you know, people are going to roll their eyes, but we do vegetarian and Vegan cuisine really well here.  And I think that as people are more and more conscious about what they’re eating and if they should eat less meat and, you know, about the ethics, abusing animals and so on.  I’m seeing vegetarian dishes pop-up on menus all around United States now and it’s okay to order a vegetarian meal now.  And I think that, you know, we’re really driving a lot of that choice here.  There happens to be a very strong vegetarian and vegan community.  And just because they’re here I think they’re helping to drive that change in the menus.

 

Seth:  All right.  I live in Seattle for a while and I know what the weather is like up there in the Pacific Northwest.  I didn’t drink coffee till I went to Seattle and then, you know, now I got about several times a day habit.  So where do we go for coffee when we’re in Portland?

 

Erik:  Well, I would have to say Water Avenue.  They also – full disclosure, they happen to be our official coffee sponsor for the event but it’s also one of my favorite coffees in Portland.  I also like Portland Roasting.  It’s kind of my second favorite coffee in the city.  A lot of people will talk about Stumptown.  That’s kind of like the old school classic one but there’s great coffee throughout the city.  You can hardly go wrong.

 

Seth:  All right.  Last question, since you’re the expert, make a prediction about food tourism.  Where do you see the industry in five years?

 

Erik:  Wow, that’s a big question.  I think that technology is probably going to have the most profound effect on our industry in 5 to 10 years.  I think that the – we’ve just started to see the smartphones.  The apps really start to help us with that.  But now there are devices that you can wave over food that will tell you about the chemical composition of your food, you know, the caloric content of what you’re eating, you know, stuff like that.  It’s crazy.  And so I think that technology, you know, whether it’s a smartphone app or some other kind of devices really going to affect and influence our experience with food radically in the next 5 to 10 years.

 

Seth:  I’m waiting for delivery by drone.  I can’t wait for that.

 

Erik:  Yeah, I heard about that.  That’s kind of – that’s pretty – what if something is really heavy like are they really going to take, you know, that end the console that weigh 70 and delivered by drone, probably not.

 

Seth:  I don’t know, but like a 50-foot sub sandwich, something like that, you know.  I want to see that come by drone.

 

Erik:  Yeah, with all the flies and bugs on it by the time it arrives, right?

 

Seth:  Yes, definitely.  All right, Erik.  Well, thank you so much for taking the time to join us.  Erik Wolf, the founder of the World Food Travel Association and producer of the Foodworx Conference.  If people want to find out more about Foodworx, they can go to Foodworx, that’s F-O-O-D-W-O-R-X, Conference.com.  World Food Travel Association is at WorldFoodTravel.org.  What about social media if people want to follow you, how can they do that?

 

Erik:  Easily, just to go WorldFoodTravel.org/social and all of our links and share buttons are right there.

 

Seth:  Well, thank you so much for joining us and best of luck with the conference.  Sounds like it’s going to be a great event.

 

Erik:  Thanks a lot, Seth.  It was a pleasure.  Thanks for having me.

 

Seth:  My name is Seth Resler.  A couple of show notes before we go, first of all like I said, please head over to iTunes and subscribe to the podcast, leave a review while you’re there.  Also, you can find these episodes up on YouTube.  You can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter and on Instagram and on Pinterest.  We’re all over social media.  Or you can just head over to our website, TasteTrekkers.com.  Plus you can find links to many of the things that we talk about in this episode over at TasteTrekkers.com/podcast.

 

Thank you so much for joining us.  We love having you listen and we’ll talk to you next time.

 

 



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