Join Render: Feminist Food & Culture Quarterly and the Pacific Northwest College of Art's departments of Intermedia and the Liberal Arts for a roundtable panel on Food, Power, & Social Identity. Four speakers will present for around 10 minutes each and then we will open the floor for questions and conversation on the topic!
This event is free and open to the public!
Speakers & Topics:
Kjerstin Johnson is the editor in chief of the quarterly magazine Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture and teaches magazine writing at Portland State University. After Bitch, her favorite magazine is Bon Appetit.
Every issue of Bitch is themed—our latest is the Law & Order issue, coming up is Blood & Guts. But one of our most popular issues was the the Food issue, which came out in the winter of 2014. Our contributors gave me much more to chew on than what you'd find in Portland Monthly or Pinterest. We delved into intersectional veganism, the politics of coffee culture, cultural appropriation, and what "ethical" food means in terms of class. If anything, I learned there's no one feminist response to food—tied directly to our culture and selves, it's a conversation that needs to keep happening.
Alex Bernson is the managing editor at Sprudge.com, a global coffee news and culture publication based in Portland, Oregon. His writing applies a sociological lens to coffee's production, service, and cultural impact. He has lectured on such topics at the SCAA Symposium and Nordic Barista Cup, and worked in and managed specialty coffee establishments in Seattle, Portland, New York, Boston, and Connecticut. In 2011 he graduated from Wesleyan University after founding Espwesso, a wholly-student run cafe on campus, and completing a Bachelors in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, with an honors thesis titled “The Social Space of The Café: How Service and Physical Design Condition Social Performances.”
Serving a guest food or drink is an action full of social and ideological power-dynamics, whether that is welcoming a guest into a home, or a guest being served a fine dining meal, or a simple cup of coffee. In the increasingly commercialized spaces of public life, ordering and receiving something has become more and more a way to authorize one's presence, to temporarily buy access to the ephemeral society of a service establishment, whether that is for work, socializing, solitary pleasure, or one of those liminal combinations of the three that seem to be becoming ever more a part of 21st century life. The how and where of service can do as much to determine community and impact as the actual products on the plate or in the cup—and there is surprising agency to be found on both sides of the transaction.
Chef Ian Wilson was born in Davis, California and moved to Portland, Oregon to pursue a more intimate connection with food and the agricultural producers of the Pacific Northwest. Wilson is passionate about food and local food-based economies and tries to exemplify that with the cuisine at Fenrir where he is the head chef. Fermentation and other forms of preservation are a dominant factor in his seasonal outlook on cuisine and menu formulation.
Recently, I've been very fascinated by the glamorization of the chef as a character, and it's worth noting that most chefs of prominence in the Western world are primarily men. In contrast, the majority of food-related work and the cultural thread that connects us with our ancestors who started forging these techniques/domesticities were mostly women. At what point in history did that shift happen? Was it gradual? What are the consequences? What does the future of a male-dominated celebrity cooking world look like and what message does it send to viewers of food media?
Stacey Givens is the farmer/chef/owner of The Side Yard Farm & Kitchen. Her team and a squad of dedicated volunteers grow diverse vegetables on several urban lots. The Side Yard is an urban farm, nomadic supper club, and catering company located in the NE Cully Neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. The farm provides restaurants with local produce and serves the community with food, farming education, and opportunity. A hyperlocal small business, Givens is driven by the desire to build a strong community and make lasting connections with talented and passionate people. Givens sells her harvests to nearby restaurants, including Cocotte, Grain & Gristle, 23Hoyt and more in what she calls an invaluable “chef-to-chef” produce service. Over the last 10 years she has cooked her way through various Portland kitchens including Lincoln, Southpark, and Rocket. Her inspiration to get her hands in the dirt sprouted when she was cooking at Rocket (now Noble Rot), which had the first rooftop garden of its kind in Portland.
I will talk about hyper-local food vs local food. Side Yard Farms has been labeled hyper-local over the years. For our suppers and catering company, we use our urban grown goods and goods from within a 2-mile radius with the exception of proteins. Everything comes out of the Cully neighborhood: honey, table flowers from the flower farm down the street, goat milk from my neighbor to make cheese, fruit to make vinegar, etc. I will talk about the community aspect of the hyperlocal urban farm and catering company and how it benefits people of all walks of life in the area. The farm is located in the Cully neighborhood which is ranked number one in diversity in all of Oregon and I chose to be a part of the neighborhood for that reason. It is a special place with urban farms all around, no city sidewalks, and all different kinds of people. Gentrification is slowly making its way towards Cully, but it will never take over because the residents wont let it!