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Second Winter Waters Fest Brings New Culinary / Drink Exploration to Portland, Oregon Coast, Valley

Published 1/25/24 at 4:05 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Second Winter Waters Fest Brings Culinary / Drink Exploration to Portland, Oregon Coast, Valley

(Oregon Coast) – Ever wish for a seafood fest that spread its tentacles all over Oregon, and takes place on the Oregon coast, in Portland, McMinnville and even Dayton?

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Winter Waters is exactly that sprawling festival of an idea, what they call an Oregon-based regenerative seafare series that brings together dozens of different businesses and organizations to create one of the more singular events the region has ever seen. It encompasses all of February and takes you down new and sometimes unfamiliar culinary pathways, introducing you to farmed sea vegetables and all kinds of fish fare. Dozens of chefs and tastemakers across the state ban together, starting February 2 in Newport and ending up in Seaside at the last day of the month, February 29.

This is the second annual Winter Waters series, focusing on local sustainable seafoods such as line-caught albacore tuna, dive-harvested purple sea urchin, and many other abundant species such as black cod, Dungeness crab, and cold water pink shrimp.

The first Winter Waters went exceptionally well, and the response called for another installment in 2024.

“This year we’ll up the game with ticketed prix-fixe fine dining events as well as casual a la carte events, seaweed art classes, free community events, and menu specials all month in multiple regions across Oregon,” said organizers in a press release.

Winter Waters came about when three devotees of seawood came together to further that culinary cause. Alanna Kieffer of Oregon Seaweed and Rachelle Hacmac of Blue Evolution teamed up with Oregon Coast food systems value chain coordinator Kristen Penner, deciding it was time to create a seaweed-centric seafood series for the Portland area and Oregon coast.

Courtesy photo: growing facilities in Garibaldi

In 2024's incarnation, event highlights include a Seaweed Beer Night in Portland's Loyal Legion, a seaweed and seafood night at a Cannon Beach hotel, and special foodie events in Gearhart, Seaside and Astoria, along with Coast Range foothill towns McMinnville and Dayton.

The big kickoff happens all over the central Oregon coast town of Newport, February 2nd through Sunday February 4th. There's an educational experience at Central Coast Food Web’s Yaquina Lab, and Local Ocean Seafoods features a pre-fixe dinner with Chef Enrique Sanchez-Rodriguez and guest chef Luis Cabanas, the former Executive Chef at Paley's Place. Then, look for a family-friendly, free event at The Pacific Maritime Heritage Center.

“We have several chef collab events planned, including a pop up at Chef Kyle Christy’s Street Disco featuring Chef Jeff Kim, of Aji Fish Butchery, plus Morchella’s Chef Cameron Dunlap has invited Salem-based Epilogue Kitchen’s James Beard Award nominated Chef Jonathan Jones to the restaurant for a seaweed and local seafood feast. Menu specials and seaweed cocktails are also in the works,” said organizers.

You can see the full lineup of events at the Winter Waters site.

Really, it's more of a "series" - as they put - rather than a festival. But it may have a festival feel in many ways.

The Winter Waters non-profit beneficiary is Oregon Kelp Alliance, a multi-sector partnership working to protect wild Oregon kelp forests. Last year’s dining series brought in over $60k in revenue for Winter Waters restaurant partners, and over $6k was donated to Oregon Kelp Alliance.

Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - South Coast Hotels - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours


Morchella, Portland

Local Ocean Seafood, Newport

Kelp farm - Winter Waters

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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