, the annual food festival celebrating Oregon’s rich food history, launched Thursday, September 17, with the Widmer Brothers Brewing Sandwich Invitational, a fierce sandwich-making competition featuring chefs from Portland and across the country.
As a grand welcome, it was up to festival goers to choose the “people’s choice,” and for a panel of judges to crown the overall best sandwich.
Representing Los Angeles, “Ace of Cakes” Duff Goldman
entered the competiton with a bocadillo, and Eggslut’s
Alvin Cailin created a saucy “egg dip” — pork shoulder and capers drenched in a bright egg yolk.
From Texas, local legend Aaron Franklin brought a barbecue staple — a mountainous pulled pork slider — and mingled with a winding line of guests.
From New York City, Maialino’s Nick Anderer went with a cold crowd pleaser, a smoked bluefish salad with caper berries and heirloom tomatoes.
Not to be outdone, Portland’s own Olympia Provisions
came extra prepared with two sandwiches — a stacked Italian slider showing off Olympia’s charcuterie, and a crawfish boil dog — because chef Elias Cairo couldn’t pick just one.
In the end, it was another Portland chef, Gregory Gourdet of Departure
, who got the judges’ votes with a Chinese barbecue pork crêpe with pickled turnip and fermented chili.
Onstage, the chef simply urged the crowd to stay focused on the festival’s overarching goal of providing resources for the hungry. “It’s very important to remember those of us who don’t have the same luxuries,” Gourdet said. “This might be an expensive event to produce, but our money is going to a good place.”