Bend’s Foodie Crawl feeds the hungry

By Macy Crowe • The Bulletin

If you go

What: Foodie Crawl

When: 3 to 6 p.m. April 23, after-party 6 to 9 p.m. at McMenamins Old St. Francis School

Where: Downtown Bend

Cost: $85 per person, includes after-party

Contact: thefoodiecrawl.com or 541-312-2069

Bend’s Foodie Crawl starts the same way every year: Dozens of excited food lovers stand outside Crow’s Feet Commons fiddling with their wristbands and maps while plotting their routes through downtown Bend.

The 2017 Feed the Hungry fundraiser, returning to Central Oregon on April 23 for its sixth year, should be no exception.

This year’s lineup is nothing short of impressive with at least 17 participating restaurants and beverage partners: Hola, Brickhouse, 900 Wall, J-Dub, Salud Raw Food, Crafted Life, Joolz and Spork are a few of the much-talked-about establishments that will be serving up food and drinks. The chefs and beverage partners donate all of the food, drinks and time to the event.

Fare will include finger foods, bite-sized gourmet dishes, small-plated vegan recipes, desserts and specialty beverages.

“If you think of the progressive dinner, where you go and eat one meal at one house and then you go to another house and have another dish and maybe you have dessert somewhere else,” said Amanda Lenke, who helps organize the fundraiser, “it’s that plus a pub crawl, because every restaurant that you go to serves a small plate that’s paired with wine, beer or a cocktail.”

Lenke is the board chairwoman for Bend’s Community Center, a nonprofit organization providing a range of resources to those in need in the Bend community. The crawl was created as the main fundraising event for the Bend Community Center’s Feed the Hungry program.

On the menu

J-Dub will serve deviled eggs topped with a teriyaki drizzle, wasabi and fried Spam. The local restaurant and bar is known for its daily variations of deviled eggs. The deviled egg will be paired with a Cascade Alchemy gin smash with fresh fruit, lime, mint and soda water.

“(My dish) was based largely off of what I could do well and what represented the menu,” said Jon Weber, owner of J-Dub.

Cliff Eslinger, the executive chef and owner of 900 Wall, will prepare a pork confit with beet jam on a pistachio shortbread. “That was definitely a big deciding factor in our dish — choosing something that’s seasonal and appropriate for this time of year, because that represents what we’re about,” Eslinger said.

Salud is presenting a live onion bread with a cashew-based veggie cream cheese and topped with tender greens and sliced basil, a vegetarian as well as vegan dish.

Corrine O’Shea, the owner of Salud, opened the restaurant as an option for healthy, gluten free and vegan eaters, serving organic raw foods.

Salud chose a nonalcoholic drink to pair with its dish, such as kombucha or Townshend’s tea.

Some restaurants are planning wine or beer, but several venues will pair cocktails with their dishes. That’s where Crafted Life comes in.

“We’re partnering with their bar teams to create specialty cocktails to celebrate the event” and enhance the flavor of their dishes, said Matthew Bowler, co-founder of Crafted Life.

Everything local

The downtown Bend location for the crawl embraces the local business culture. “We take a lot of pride in that it’s all local places sitting here,” Eslinger said. “Bend is pretty special in that.”

For the chefs and owners, the Foodie Crawl is a welcomed change of pace from other festivals because they can host participants on their turf. “You get to display your product in your environment, hopefully, at your best,” said Weber.

Helping out

All proceeds from the ticket sales go toward the Feed the Hungry program, which provides those in need with meals for home and sack lunches.

“It’s right around 15,000 meals that we produce from ticket sales,” Lenke said.

“Being able to support the people that are here is super important to our business, and this event pairs very well with that,” Eslinger said.

“Things are really good right now — unemployment is low; out-of-area tourism is high; I would imagine the restaurants are doing well; the distilleries are doing well.” Bowler said. “But there are folks in the community that aren’t, and helping at home is really important.”

Plan accordingly

Attendees can gather at Crow’s Feet Commons, 875 NW Brooks St., at 2:30 p.m. to receive maps of the crawl locations and determine the spots they want to go to. The crawl will then run from 3 to 6 p.m. Ticket holders can go to all 17 and get food and drinks or pick and choose, and there is no particular order.

The after-party is from 6 to 9 p.m. at McMenamins Old St. Francis School, 700 NW Bond St. An assortment of bite-sized desserts and a Champagne toast await the Foodie Crawl crowd.

Foodie Crawl veterans warn participants to come with empty stomachs, pace themselves and plan out the restaurants strategically.

— Reporter: 541-383-0351, mcrowe@bendbulletin.com

A dish from Salud that will be served during the upcoming Foodie Crawl in Bend. (Joe Kline/Bulletin photo)
Participants preparing food and libations for the upcoming Foodie Crawl include, from left, Jon Weber, owner of J-Dub; Matthew Bowler, co-founder of Crafted Life; Cliff Eslinger, executive chef at 900 Wall; and Corrine OíShea, owner of Salud. (Joe Kline/Bulletin photo)
A dish from J-Dub that will be served during the upcoming Foodie Crawl in Bend. (Joe Kline/Bulletin photos)