On Monday, October 3, the Culinary Breeding Network (CBN) is hosting its third annual Variety Showcase in Portland, Oregon. The one-day event brings together 16 plant breeders and 28 chefs, along with farmers and foodies to talk shop, learn from one another, and – of course – taste new and in-development vegetable and grain varieties.
The chefs – including Nora Antene of the Portland eatery Tusk, Jonny Hunter of Madison, Wisconsin’s Underground Food Collective, and David Gunawan of Vancouver’s Farmer’s Apprentice – will collaborate with plant breeders to concoct small plates to shine a spotlight on the breeders’ vegetables, beans, and grains.
CBN was launched in 2012 by Lane Selman, an agricultural researcher at Oregon State University, to help identify cultivars – mostly created by public and independent plant breeders – that perform well without the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides, and, says Selman, are “of superior performance, flavor, texture, culinary attributes and overall quality.”
“This work is as much about breeding for organic systems as it is for flavor,” Selman tells Modern Farmer. “The breeders involved in the CBN are breeding with the organic farmer, the chef, and the average consumer in mind.”
Over the last three years the Variety Showcase has grown from about 100 attendees the first year to 200 in 2015. Monday’s event – held at Urban Farmer, a restaurant inside the Nines hotel in downtown Portland – is expected to bring more than 300 people, coming from as far away as Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Florida.
Speakers include Matthew Dillon, the director of agricultural policy and programs for Clif Bar – which along with Organic Valley, is behind a new endowment program dedicated to plant breeding for organic agriculture – along with Bill Tracy of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the first recipient of the endowment.
Come on out Monday to see, and taste, the results of what happens when these folks put their heads together. Tickets are $50, and you can purchase them here. Can’t make it? Swing by our Instagram – CBN will be taking over our account on Monday, so if you aren’t in the Portland area you can still get a peek.