The intrepid General Manager for the Redd on Salmon Street has a big job ahead of her: making the dream of a values-based food system come alive via the nuts and bolts of essential infrastructure for ag of the middle producers. On the cusp of breaking ground and with ink still drying on tenant leases, Sydney took a couple minutes to share what makes her tick:
Do you have a food hero?
So many options here, but at the end of the day my heart really belongs to Marcella Hazan for writing so well about honoring ingredients, tradition, and flavor. I also love Marion Nestle for opening my eyes to the political value of food.
Did you always know that you wanted to work in food? Or is it more about the systems?
I have a career path that is full of loops, detours, experimentation — I have always loved working around and with food.
Food is an immediate need for everyone. There is a very real pleasure in sharing food, whether at home or at work.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in rural Oregon, the Willamette Valley. Most of the land in that area at that time was planted for grass seed, strawberries, caneberries, and Christmas trees. A lot of that same land is now planted in wine grapes.
What’s your favorite place in Oregon?
That is a truly unfair question. Oregon is stunningly beautiful — I love the arid brown hills in the east as much as I love the heavy, wet green of the west. Of course I love the coast, but even to choose among north coast, central coast, south coast is impossible.
My favorite depends on the moment — watching the landscape change on the way out to the Gorge, smelling the high desert air, stargazing in the valley. The honey-colored light in high summer over the Owyhee canyon lands.
What’s most exciting to you about the Redd project?
I think the collaborative, entrepreneurial community of growers, producers, and makers that is forming in the Redd is pretty exciting. Entrepreneurs are such interesting people: They have an idea and the nerve and guts to make it real.
What’s your favorite meal?
I am not sure that anything can compete with a grass-fed steak, grilled outdoors and topped with a chimichurri. There is a magic that happens between smoke-kissed beef and the brightness of the cilantro sauce.
Sydney DeLuna joined the Redd in fall 2015 from Bon Appétit Management Co., after most recently running Theory Eatery, the cafeteria at Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI). She has a long history with Oregon’s food system, including growing up on a farm outside Salem. Her experience both on the producer and buyer sides of local agriculture and in building out a large kitchen facility at OMSI bring an invaluable perspective to the project.