Chef Outta Water

Sketching ‘Volcano!’ at the museum

ArtsWatch Weekly: Big crowds & small artists take in the Portland Art Museum's big boom, March's new art & dance, a fresh film fest

ON SATURDAY I DROPPED BY THE PORTLAND ART MUSEUM to spend a little quality time with Volcano!, the sprawling exhibit designed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. (The mountaintop blasted sky-high on May 18, 1980; the museum’s show closes on May 17, a day before the anniversary.) On a rainy afternoon the place was packed with curious or nostalgic visitors. Some came to revisit their experiences of one of the most memorable days in modern Pacific Northwest history. Some came eager to learn a little more about a cataclysmic event they didn’t live through themselves but knew was a Really Big Deal. And most seemed engaged: The crowd wasn’t just walking through quickly with a glance here and a glance there – people were studying the paintings and photographs, sometimes doubling back to take a closer look at something they’d already seen. One way or another, this show seemed a part of their lives.

Lucinda Parker, “The Seething Saint,” 2019, acrylic on canvas, in the exhibition “Volcano!” at the Portland Art Museum. Courtesy Lucinda Parker and Russo Lee Gallery

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Making the world smaller through food

Two Mississippi chefs will bring a taste of the Deep South to Astoria as part of Chef Outta Water, a program to expand cultural horizons by cooking

For a short time this month, Astoria will take on a taste of the Deep South as it welcomes two Mississippi chefs for a southern family-style dinner. It’s part of Chef Outta Water, an international consortium aimed at exposing chefs to other cultures.

Chef Chris Holen of Astoria’s Baked Alaska restaurant and Australian economic development executive Simon Millcock founded the group about three-and-a-half years ago.

“Chef Outta Water is a bit of a social enterprise,” Holen said. “We want to get chefs out of their comfort zone. It can be a monotonous profession, so we travel and work with other chefs in other states and countries. The idea is when you go home you are inspired.”

Chef Chris Holen (middle) put on a dinner with Delta Supper Club chefs Stewart Robinson (left) and David Crews in Greenwood, Mississippi, in 2018. On March 14, he will welcome them to Astoria for RIVER2RIVER, a Southern family-style dinner that is part of an effort aimed at exposing the world’s chefs to diverse cultural experiences.  Photo by: Rory Doyle 

Holen and fellow members have worked with chefs in countries including Iceland, Saudi Arabia, China, Mexico, Korea, and Portugal, visiting the foreign locales and bringing chefs here.

“We took seven Chinese master chefs on a road trip in Australia,” Holen said. “They wanted to see where their beef was coming from. We met in Melbourne, flew to Adelaide, and rented a big car and trailer and drove back. It was awesome. What we’re trying to do is make the world a little bit smaller through food and get people out of their normal routines.”  

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