Over 100 people joined the March 31st-April 1 International Food Festival and Tempeh Celebration to experience and celebrate new recipes, meet local vendors, and hear the details of the Rockwood Rising Project's design. Christopher Keizur, of the Gresham Outlook, reports:
On Mike Hillis' wedding day, he ate a huge plate of fried tempeh.
It wasn't the first time he had tried the food.
That was back in 1998 — in a parking lot outside a Grateful Dead concert. But this time the meal was welcome after a long wedding ceremony in the hot climate of Indonesia.
"I was so hungry I ate the whole plate, which really impressed everyone," Hillis said with a laugh. "My Indonesian great grandmother said 'Wow, the white man can really eat tempeh.'"
Now, as one of the co-coordinators of the Rockwood International Food Fair and Tempeh Celebration, Hillis is trying to bring tempeh into East Multnomah County.
A high-protein fermented food native to the island of Java, Indonesia, tempeh — pronounced tem-pay — is a healthy and versatile food that's being studied by microbiologists and food scientists in several countries for its nutritional and medicinal properties. In Indonesia, about 150 million people consume tempeh daily.
"Tempeh is both a food and a medicine," Hillis said. "It's inexpensive and can be the go-to food for people around the world."
Tempeh was the star of the food fair, a two-day event held Friday, March 31, at the Sunrise Center, 18901 E. Burnside St., dedicated to honoring the region's rich diversity while stimulating food-related job creation. Guests learned about tempeh through speaker sessions and tasted traditional Indonesian dishes. On Saturday, local food makers incorporated tempeh into their own dishes and shared their meals with the community.