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Food & Wine editor in PDX to dish with chefs, foodies

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Lincoln restaurant to host star-studded book-release dinner for Dana Cowin; reading at Powell's set for Thursday


Photo Credit: COURTESY PHOTO - Dana Cowin of Food & Wine magazine is in Portland this week.
Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine, is in Portland this week visiting with chefs and promoting her new book.

Called "Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen: Learning to Cook with 65 Great Chefs and Over 100 Delicious Recipes," the 320-page book sells for $34.99 at http://www.Eccobooks.com.

It includes full-color photography, stories and recipes created with Cowin's all-star friends, including Mario Batali, Alex Guarnaschelli and Tom Colicchio, among others.

Most recipes are for eight people are more, since Cowin recently learned to cook as a way to entertain family and friends, she told the Tribune Tuesday afternoon by phone from her hotel room in Portland.

She had spent the day Tuesday with a guide hitting up many of Portland's top spots, including Ristretto Roasters, Por Que No and The Meadow in North Portland.

After her magazine's coverage of Portland's food for so many years, Cowin says it was a treat to visit these places herself. And, she says, Portland does live up to its hype.

"There's a joke about changing the name of Food & Wine to Portland Monthly," she says.

Why does the Rose City get so much coverage?

"There's more creativity and quality in Portland than a lot of other places right now," the 54-year-old Manhattan native says. "One thing Portland is so terrific about is collaboration. That creates unusual pairings, flavors, personalities and stories. Portland food is really intriguing."

Living in New York City with her husband and two children, 12 and 14, Cowin says she doesn't have time to cook mid-week but has a bunch of go-to dishes for large groups. If she's going to "chop and shop," she might as well do it in larger quantities, she says.

Cowin has been been editor-in-chief at Food & Wine since 1995, also serving on the board of directors of City Harvest, a New York City hunger-relief organization, Wholesome Wave Foundation, dedicated to providing access to sustainable foods, and Hot Bread Kitchen, an organization that helps train low-income men and women to join the culinary workforce.

In 2012, she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s "Who’s Who in Food & Beverage in America."

Dana Cowin's 'Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen: Learning to Cook with 65 Great Chefs and Over 100 Delicious Recipes,' sells for $34.99 at Eccobooks.com. Yet her book takes on recipes suited for the home cook, with funny stories about how she overcame her inability to cook and gained skills along the way from chefs who helped her discover where she went wrong.

"I didn't grow up in a family that cooked," she says. "I'd eat ravioli out of a can. There wasn't much of a foodie culture. It took a while for me to want to learn to cook."

At Food & Wine, she says, she ate great food prepared by others all the time. Finally, she decided to ask her chef friends for help, and began her two-year journey learning to cook and writing her first cookbook.

It might just be stories, photos and recipes, but the amazing thing about food, Cowin says, is that "no matter what's important to you, food has a way to touch you."

Whether it's politics, social justice, the environment, travel or health, "food connects you to the world around you; it's outward looking. That’s why its exciting."

On Monday night, Cowin held a book-release celebration dinner at Lincoln Restaurant along with Portland's Best New Chefs from Food & Wine: Jenn Louis, Gabriel Rucker, Naomi Pomeroy, Greg and Gabrielle Denton, and Scott Dolich.

Wednesday evening, she'll have a conversation about her new book with "Food Lover's Guide to Portland" author Liz Crain, 7 p.m. at Powell's Books, Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 S.W. Cedar Hills Blvd. For more: http://www.powells.com/calendar.

On Twitter @jenmomanderson.