My “ah-ha” moment came during a spontaneous trip to Vancouver B.C., when I realized the nine-five just wasn’t going to cut it for my wanderlust nature. Three years later, and over 30 countries under my belt I’m still seeking new adventures, many of which curiously revolve around lunch. Since it seems this food-centric travel thing is in my blood for good, guiding fellow foodie adventurers through my fabulous Pacific Northwest backyard seems a perfect fit! The best thing I ever ate: One of the things I love most about being a food tour guide in Portland is that I get to show-off some of my favorite spots. Having said this, it's extremely hard to nail-down one place that's better than the rest, in part because chef's are continuously changing their menus depending on what's in season, but also because I'm always trying out new places under the guise of "research". But, if you're going to make me choose just one meal that haunts my dreams, I once had this ricotta gnocchi dish with fried zucchini flowers and finished with a light honey drizzle that made me want to lick the bowl clean.
While I've called a lot of places home (Chicago, New York, California, France), I've lived in Portland for 27 years. During that time, I have enjoyed watching our food scene grow from a small, devoted coterie of chefs and foodies into the internationally known powerhouse it is today.
At home, I am an avid scratch cook. I especially love working with ingredients sourced from my backyard garden, and trying out my culinary experiments on unsuspecting friends and family.
Professionally, I put my science background to immediate use after graduate school, writing for many years on subjects ranging from particle physics to science policy for publications such as Discover and Scientific American. In the last decade I've turned my writing focus to creative nonfiction, while also growing my other careers as an actor and a musician.
What all these have in common is storytelling, and over the past seven years, I've been able to combine many of my passions as a Portland tour guide. That I can lead tours that also focus on food is the icing on the cake (nyuk nyuk). Let me show you around the town that I love, and feed you delicious food!
My dream has always been to go to interesting places, meet interesting people, have interesting experiences, and then tell people about it. I have worked as a travel, outdoors and sports writer for almost 30 years, and one day I realized that my favorite way to write about a place was to describe eating breakfast there. Somehow, breakfast summed up everything I love about travel: food, community, and getting start on a whole new day full of who knows what. So I developed a “Breakfast in …” theme in my travel writing, and then it occurred to me to write a whole book about breakfast places in Portland. That was Breakfast in Bridgetown: The Definitive Guide to Portland’s Favorite Meal. To research the three editions I ate breakfast in more than 200 locations in and around the city over several years, and it confirmed everything I believed: You want to know a city, find out what and where it eats. And now I can’t wait to tell people all about what and where Portland eats!
I was raised in coastal Texas by Louisiana-born parents, where food is the language of love. My fondest childhood memories involve crawfish, catfish, sausage, shrimp, oysters, okra, brisket, boudain, and my daddy’s red beans and rice. When I moved to Portland a decade ago, my change of location (and my changing digestion) led me to begin exploring all the culinary delights the area has to offer. I have become “spoilt” by the food diversity and attention to quality that exists on all levels here—from food carts to fine dining to happy hour to the grocery store shelves. Whether it’s pretty or whether it’s ugly, I love food that is made WITH love. There is ALWAYS something new to discover, and I hope you’ll join me on that adventure...even if none of it beats my daddy’s red beans and rice. Outside of tours, I work as a medical actor, do children’s musicals, perform improv, write original comedy music, and share my solo storytelling shows. People tell me I’m funny—I hope you think so, too.
Growing up in the 70's, I was raised on microwaved, boxed, and canned meals. Moving to Portland was a culinary game changer for me. Arriving in one of the best growing regions anywhere at the same time that the Farm to Table movement was settling in turned me into a vegetable-loving locavore almost overnight. In addition to being a PDX foodie guide, I spend my time as a food, drink, and outdoor writer and photographer. Online, I write for Eater PDX and in print, my work has appeared in Portland Monthly, 1859, Northwest Travel & Life, and Backpacker magazines. I am also the author of the guidebooks Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon, Best Outdoor Adventures Near Portland, 25 Hikes on Oregon’s Tillamook Coast, and the forthcoming Unique Eats & Eateries: Portland.
From an early age I have been obsessed with food, but it wasn’t until my epic round the world trip that I began to see how large a role it played in my daily life. I watched as the motivation for my travels slowly morphed from hitting major landmarks and sightseeing, to seeking out and sampling the very best food the various cultures and countries had to offer. This philosophy still holds true, and I often find my free time spent exploring the corners of Portland, checking out the endless restaurants and food carts this foodie city has to offer. I can't wait to show you some of my favorite spots.