Literary Arts: The Archive Project

The Archive Project - Eat Your Vegetables

By OPB staff (OPB)
March 25, 2024 7:50 p.m.
Aaron Adams (upper left), Liz Crain (lower left), Gregory Gourdet (center), Hetty Lui McKinnon (right)

Aaron Adams (upper left), Liz Crain (lower left), Gregory Gourdet (center), Hetty Lui McKinnon (right)

Courtesy of Malte Jager/Eva Kosmas/Shirley Cai / OPB


Today we have a conversation from the 2023 Portland Book Festival on food, cooking, family, traditions, and storytelling. And like some of the best meals, it just happens to be ... vegetarian.

Portland’s superstar chef Gregory Gourdet, chef/owner at Kann, which was awarded “Best New Restaurant 2023″ from multiple outlets, including the James Beard Awards, is also the author of a wonderful cookbook, “Everyone’s Table.” Gourdet led a conversation between fellow Portland chef and restauranteur Aaron Adams of Fermenter, which last year published a Fermenter cookbook co-authored by Portland’s own Liz Crain (”Dumplings Equal Love”) about vegan fermentation.

Joining our Portlanders is recipe developer Hetty Lui McKinnon, frequent contributor to New York Times Cooking and author “To Asia, with Love,” and most recently the cookbook “Tenderheart.” Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, McKinnon is now based in Brooklyn, New York.

So why are we talking about cookbooks on a literary show? Food is storytelling, and this conversation reveals the rich stories in our recipes, in what we cook and what we eat. Food connects us to our ancestry and personal food traditions, and can open our world to new tastes; much like we can find both reflections of ourselves in stories and doors to new worlds. Food tells a story, and the group talks about how our food connects us not only to the past but to our present community, and even to the future in creating new traditions.



AARON ADAMS is a chef and fermentation educator based in Portland, OR. He opened his first restaurant in 2002, followed by restaurants that all in one way or another featured fermented food and drink. He zeroed in on and grew that love of fermentation at Fermenter, which showcases everything traditional, wildly experimental, and local and global ferments--from koji to kombucha--along with delicious dishes that incorporate them.

LIZ CRAIN is a longtime writer on Pacific Northwest food and drink. She is the author of “Dumplings = Love” and coauthor of the cookbooks “Toro Bravo,” and “Hello! My Name is Tasty,” as well as 420-friendly “Grow Your Own.” She is also cofounder of the annual Portland Fermentation Festival.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, New York, Gregory Gourdet is the child of Haitian immigrants. A self-proclaimed health freak and avid runner, Gourdet views food as a source of nourishment as much as one of pleasure. After graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, he became chef de cuisine for Jean-Georges Vongerichten, under whom he trained for almost seven years. In 2008, Gourdet arrived in Portland, OR. He led the pan-Asian kitchen at Departure for a decade, running one of the busiest restaurants in the state. His annual trips around the world connected him with the flavors and ingredients he loves so much. He is a James Beard Award nominee and a two-time Top Chef finalist as well as an All Star and Guest Judge. He has been named Chef of the Year by Eater and one of the Fittest Chefs in America by Men’s Health. His wood-fired Haitian restaurant Kann opened in Portland, OR, in 2022 and was awarded Best New Restaurant 2023 by the James Beard Awards and more.

Hetty Lui McKinnon is a Chinese Australian cook and food writer. A James Beard Foundation finalist, she is the author of four other cookbooks, including the much-loved “To Asia, With Love” (2021), the award-winning “Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day” (2019), “Neighbourhood: Hearty Salads and Plant-Based Recipes from Home and Abroad” (2017), and “Community: Salad Recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen” (2014). Hetty is also the editor and publisher of multicultural food journal “Peddler” and the host of the magazine’s podcast “The House Specials.” She is a regular recipe contributor to “The New York Times,” “Bon Appetit,”, and ABC Everyday; and her recipes have appeared in Food52, the “Guardian,” “The Washington Post” and more. Born and raised in Sydney, she now resides in Brooklyn, New York.