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Food Is a Weapon: Ghetto Gastro with Gregory Gourdet

Sat, November 5 from 11:45 am - 12:45 pm PDT
1126 SW Park Ave Portland, OR 97205

Join Jon Gray, Pierre Serrao, and Lester Walker of Bronx-based culinary collective Ghetto Gastro, and authors of the new book Ghetto Gastro Presents Black Power Kitchen, for a conversation with acclaimed Portland-based chef Gregory Gourdet.

Part cookbook. Part manifesto. Created with big Bronx energy, Black Power Kitchen combines 75 mostly plant-based, layered-with-flavor recipes with immersive storytelling, diverse voices, and striking images and photographs that celebrate Black food and Black culture, and inspire larger conversations about race, history, food inequality, and how eating well can be a pathway to personal freedom and self-empowerment.

“Black Power Kitchen is as much a cooking manual as it is a manifesto of Ghetto Gastro’s decade-long mission: Seeing eating as simultaneously a form of survival and a source of luxury, Black Power Kitchen frames food as a form of love, but also a weapon — one that has long been wielded against communities like Ghetto Gastro’s in the Bronx.”
Eater

Portland Book Festival General Admission Passes are required for all events. Passes are $15 in advance and $25 day of Festival. Youth 17 & under, or with a valid high school ID get in FREE. All full-priced General Admission Passes include a $5 book fair voucher and entry into Portland Art Museum.


About Ghetto Gastro Presents Black Power Kitchen

Part cookbook. Part manifesto. Created with big Bronx energy, Black Power Kitchen combines 75 mostly plant-based, layered-with-flavor recipes with immersive storytelling, diverse voices, and striking images and photographs that celebrate Black food and Black culture, and inspire larger conversations about race, history, food inequality, and how eating well can be a pathway to personal freedom and self-empowerment.

Ghetto Gastro Presents Black Power Kitchen is the first book from the Bronx-based culinary collective, and it does for the cookbook what Ghetto Gastro has been doing for the food world in general—disrupt, expand, reinvent, and stamp it with their unique point of view. Ghetto Gastro sits at the intersection of food, music, fashion, visual arts, and social activism. They’ve partnered with Nike and Beats by Dre, designed cookware sold through Williams-Sonoma and Target, and won a Future of Gastronomy award from the World’s 50 Best.

Now they bring their multidisciplinary approach to a cookbook, with nourishing recipes that are layered with waves of crunch, heat, flavor, and umami. They are born of the authors’ cultural heritage and travels—from riffs on family dishes like Strong Back Stew and memories of Uptown with Red Velvet Cake to neighborhood icons like Triboro Tres Leches and Chopped Stease (their take on the classic bodega chopped cheese) to recipes redolent of the African diaspora like Banana Leaf Fish and King Jaffe Jollof. All made with a sense of swag.

Jon Gray

Jon Gray is cofounder of Ghetto Gastro. He aims to shift social narratives by celebrating the culinary, blending a background in fashion to create immersive experiences, product design, and unique storytelling. From Co-op City, Gray’s mother and grandmother taught him about the arts and challenged him to innovate as a way of life. When a rebellious adolescence almost put him behind bars, Gray used the experience to imagine a greater vision for himself. Inventorying his passions and pastimes, he made Bronx-driven gastro-diplomacy his career and mission.  In 2019, Gray delivered the TED Talk “The Next Big Thing Is Coming from the Bronx, Again.” Gray is a Civic Practice Partnership Artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2021, he served as guest curator at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, where “Jon Gray of Ghetto Gastro Selects” featured an Afrofuturist theme. 
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Pierre Serrao

Pierre Serrao is chef and cofounder of Ghetto Gastro. Serrao uses food as both an expression of culture-driven creativity and a tool to create health sovereignty. Raised between Barbados and Connecticut, Serrao worked in restaurants throughout high school, then graduated from culinary school and the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners in Piemonte. He worked at award-winning restaurants in New York, Barbados, and Italy, styling an approach to cooking influenced by ancestral practices and innovation. The desire to create a culturally sound and iterative expression of food led Serrao to join forces with Jon Gray and Lester Walker, rounding out Ghetto Gastro. Fueled by international travel, enthusiasm for learning, and sheer curiosity, Serrao explores ways to bridge the global pantry with creative entrepreneurship.
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Lester Walker

Lester Walker is chef and co-founder of Ghetto Gastro. Walker brings unrelenting imagination, competition-ready technique, and skill at layering flavors to Ghetto Gastro’s iconic events, offerings, and storytelling. A native of the Bronx’s Co-op City, Walker discovered cooking at a pivotal moment in his teen years. New York City’s Careers Through Culinary Arts Program inspired him to pursue a career in food. Spurred by the speed, focus, and creativity of cooking, Walker worked up the fine-dining line in award-winning kitchens in New York, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Walker’s cooking merges the roots of NYC-based Black American foodways with the cuisines he studied professionally: French, Italian, Indian, and Southeast Asian. In 2012, he won Chopped on the Food Network. That same year, seeking ways to explore historic and modern Black culture through food, he partnered with Jon Gray, fellow Co-op City native, to launch Ghetto Gastro. With GhettoGastro, Walker aims to create art by intentionally pairing food with ideas that represent and celebrate where he comes from.
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Gregory Gourdet

Gregory Gourdet is a celebrated chef, best-selling author, and television personality. He is best known for his award-winning cuisine, bevy of TV appearances, and trendsetting role in the culinary boom of Portland.   A native of Queens, NY, Gregory attended the Culinary Institute of America, becoming the school’s first student to land an internship with celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. For nearly 7 years, Gregory honed his culinary skills at three of Jean-Georges’ trailblazing restaurants, climbing the kitchen ranks to become one of his chef de cuisines. Gregory ran the kitchen at Portland’s Departure Restaurant + Lounge for 10 years, leaving in 2019 to focus on opening Kann.   An avid traveler and lifelong student of food and culture, Gregory has made a name for himself by infusing methods and ingredients from all over the world, balanced together with his own Haitian heritage, and creating signature flavors adored for their seasonality, boldness, complexity, and spice.   He was named “Chef of the Year” by both Eater Portland and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, and is a James Beard Award nominee and two-time Bravo Top Chef finalist. In 2021, Gregory released his first cookbook, Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health, the ultimate guide to cooking globally-inspired dishes free of gluten, dairy, soy, legumes, and grains. The book is a national bestseller and a 2022 James Beard Award winner for Best General Cookbook.   Gregory sees food as nourishment and is committed to moving the restaurant industry forward in a sustainable and equitable way.
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