The Takedowns are an ambrosial dimension of decadence and guilty pleasure. A conglomeration of comfort food. They are a feast for the food-fetishist in all of us… and we managed to sneak our cameras into a few of them…
One day, well before we sold our Portland house and moved into our bus, we cooked fifteen pounds of bacon in about 12 hours. The aroma seeped through the layers of paint, the rugs, into the hardwood floors and left clouds of hazy, yellow grease that hung in the air for days.
For this, I blame Matt Timms. Matt is the jet-setting host of The Takedowns, a series of fringe food micro-festivals celebrating amateur chefs and small food business entrepreneurs.
Timms created this delicious world of underground food competitions that pop-up all over the country to inspire food-lovers to create edible works of art for the pleasure of the attendees, who then vote for their favorite dishes. The winners are lavished with some seriously cool prizes like high-end blenders, food processors, knives, microplanes, sweet glory, high esteem… all kinds of rad treats for the kitchen enthusiast.
Back when the bacon-blowout was going on, Kristina applied to be one of the chefs for that particular Takedown held at Portland’s Goodfoot Lounge on a typical rainy Saturday afternoon in PDX. Each contestant had 15 pounds of Hormel Black to come up with their dish. Kristina’s bacon and cheese mini pies and bacon-blueberry pancake milkshake (complete with bacon vodka-soaked blueberries) got us some awesome rewards and a lot of new friends, like Matt, who we run into in all kinds of weird corners of the country these days.
The next year, Kristina became a judge for the Portland Hot Sauce and Ice Cream Takedown — A perfect theme with a certain element of necessity — The hot sauces were so devastatingly effective in their heat and flavor that the eclectic varieties of ice cream (flavors such as Christmas Fir and Honey Goat Cheese) surely saved us from an eternity of internal flame. Pure, un-grandiloquent food brilliance.
Matt has held the competitions in cities across the country with a wide-ranging array of weirdness: hot sauce, chili, lamb, avocado, ice cream, jerky, – the most recent we stumbled into was the regionally appropriate Hot Dish and Bars Takedown in St. Paul, MN (winner by our judgestemation – buffalo bacon cheeseburger hot dish.) The Takedowns have even verged into the high(er) arts lately. Last year featured the first ever Bob Ross-inspired painting takedown and later delved into the subtlety of that silky, American institution: Velvet Painting. Coming this summer will be the Detroit Bacon Takedown, a Brooklyn skatedeck painting takedown and a slew of summer ice cream cool-offs around the country.
Matt’s events are a true expression of a blossoming neo-underground food culture; delightful, inviting, and (most importantly) unpretentious — This is what makes it America’s most important food competition. Timms has made food fun again! The Takedowns feature fierce competition, starring locals and their own creations on a stage of opportunity; which, in the food world, can be hard to come by.
-Kristina & David-