Featured Stories

Locavore chef Barb Randall goes national with her cooking

She'll share Oregon foods with panel of food magazine editors
by: LINDA HUNDHAMMER, 
Chef Barb Randall will cook for a national audience on Friday.

Barb Randall has become the guru of cooking with fresh, local ingredients for the Lake Oswego area.

Randall has shared her wizardry in the kitchen in many ways, including being food columnist for the Lake Oswego Review and the West Linn Tidings. But her main vehicle for reaching out has been the literally hundreds of cooking classes she has taught over the years.

However, on Friday, Randall will have a class of students like she has never had before. Editors of some of the nation's most prominent cooking magazines will be on hand for her hands-on demonstration at In Good Taste in Lake Oswego.

The magazine representatives are enrolled in the class as students, said Barbara Dawson, owner of In Good Taste.

'I thought, 'Holy cow!'' said Randall, whose enthusiasm is always boundless. 'I am very excited about this. I never expected it.'

It happened like this: Regional cooking classes were googled. When the editors wrote in the qualities they were seeking, they told her, 'It was just you.' So, lining up for the Barb Randall treatment will be Everyday With Rachel Ray, Bon Appetit, Sunset Magazine, and other publications.

Randall, a Lake Oswego resident, describes herself as a 'locavore.' Meaning someone who could devise a Thanksgiving menu with all-Oregon ingredients that can make saliva glands work overtime.

'Eating local food has become mainstream, and this menu really speaks about Oregon,' Randall said. 'It sets the tone for Oregon in the fall, winter, cold and being outdoors.

'Magazines are a great vehicle to reach people who want to eat this way. They're still reaching into the frozen food bin or picking up packaged foods. They just need to be encouraged to try another way.'

Randall's Thanksgiving feast should surely make some converts. It includes:

n River's Edge chevre bloomy rind cheeses warmed with fall fruits. The cheese is made out of milk from contented goats from the Logsden farm of Randall's friend Pat Morford, a 'goat cheese genius.'

n Wild mushroom and hazelnut pate.

n Venison strudel with plum jam.

n Chestnuts and Brussels sprouts.

n Baked potatoes with sour cream, chopped chives and blue cheese.

n Wilted chard and cranberry salad with smoked bacon vinaigrette.

n Warm chocolate cinnamon and coffee tart. ('This begs for a nice cup of steaming coffee to go with it,' Randall advises.)

When it comes to coaxing people to take the fresh, local food approach, Ran-dall ranks with the best. However, she started her mission in 2001 with a very tough crowd: Her sons and their friends.

'I wanted them to know what real food tastes like,' Randall said. 'I wanted them to give up the fast food burgers. It's been an uphill battle.'

Still, some of the kids have even gone on to have their own cooking clubs, and Randall has found adults to be remarkably responsive to her way of cooking.

'People are hungry for good food,' Randall said. 'The frozen stuff is not satisfying to the soul or the body. This menu involves simple preparation with great ingredients.

'Most of the farmers markets have closed, but people don't have to fall back into old habits. My real focus is to inspire people to see how simple it is to cook and eat locally as much as they can.'

And presented with Randall's genuine charm and enthusiasm, you have a masterpiece of a seasonal dinner.