Keeping Time in Portland's Food Scene: Mike Thelin

Keeping Time in Portland's Food Scene: Mike Thelin

4 minute read

Watches have become not just an accessory to tell time but a staple to men's and women's wardrobes worldwide. They are practical and fashionable. For Portland, Oregon culinary influencer Mike Thelin, his watches double as a representation of his simple yet practical style but also help him keep track of his time. Time, or free time at least, is something Thelin does not have much of. Between producing the national food festivals Feast and Hot Luck, speaking at TEDx conferences, or frequenting Portland's many restaurants, Thelin spends most of his time focused on one thing: food. 

Thelin entered the culinary industry in the late 90s, working in a restaurant as a server while attending the University of Oregon, where he majored in journalism. He always knew food was a passion for him, as it played an essential role in his family growing up. But he soon realized that the gritty hours of restaurant work did not align with how he wanted to spend his time. "At a certain point, I discovered this whole other world related to food that wasn't just cooking," said Thelin. "Working in a restaurant is awesome, and it's a great path for so many people. But for those interested in food, there is so much more you can do." 

Combining his appetite for cuisine and journalism background, Thelin began freelance writing for various publications in Oregon for their culinary columns. He saw success quickly in this sphere of food, which jump-started his path to prominence in the Portland restaurant scene. He became the food critic for Willamette Week, contributing food writer and editor in Portland Monthly Magazine, to founding Eater Portland, where he was co-editor. 



Thelin's writing career also helped open doors to other food-related ventures. From becoming a commentator on the Cooking Channel's show Unique Eats, working as director of partnerships for the International Association for Culinary Professionals, to helping at famous food festivals in Texas and New York, Thelin's confidence and entrepreneurial spirit grew. This led to the creation of his nationally-acclaimed food festival, Feast Portland, in 2012, his most significant achievement. "The right time came, and the right partners came," says Thelin. "It really coincided with this time that there was so much interest in Portland, so it became this event that was very rooted regionally and locally, right out of the gate." Feast Portland is "a love letter to the people, places, and things in Oregon." The festival promotes local and regional chefs, who gather annually to share their cuisine with locals and tourists. Some of the best food in the state is at Feast Portland, with fresh seafood from the Oregon coast to vegetables home-grown in the Willamette Valley. It not only promotes local chefs but also benefits the community. The festival has raised over $500,000 since its inception to end food insecurity in Oregon. Thelin has helmed Feast Portland for the past decade and continues to expand its impact. 

Though Thelin's business ventures continue to evolve and grow more extravagant, one aspect of his life has not: his style. "I'm not fancy; I like simple," says Thelin. "I think I feel the most comfortable being super casual." His style is very practical, influencing his other passion besides food: watches. "It's an easy way to create something that fits your personality in a way that isn't too flashy, isn't too blingy," says Thelin. Thelin is currently sporting a Tudor Black Bay Bronze (ref. M79250BA) from Skeie's Jewelers. This timepiece exudes Swiss craftsmanship with its bronze casing and slate grey dial while maintaining simplicity on a slate grey fabric strap. This watch is one of Thelin's favorite timepieces in his collection and is also a favorite among the watch enthusiasts community. "It's like being a part of this club. The only people who really notice it are the people who like watches," says Thelin.  



The recognition in the watch community is similar to the recognition of Thelin in the Portland food community. Though not everyone will recognize him walking down the street, a foodie in Portland will surely recognize Thelin from his numerous ventures in growing and supporting the restaurant and chef community. As they say: if you know, you know.

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