All Articles
All Articles

A Mercantile Meal

Portland restaurateurs Jason French and Michelle Battista join together a community of makers for an evening of inspiring exchange

by Adrienne So
on 15 August 2014

Portland, Oregon is a city of craft-focused entrepreneurs where many of the ideas for successful small businesses start from chance conversations among friends. Recognizing this, Jason French and Michelle Battista of Ned Ludd—an intimate Portland restaurant known to source artisanal, local ingredients, all cooked in a small, wood-fired oven—gathered together the founders of several local companies: Rejuvenation, a lighting and hardware company; Colorhouse, a Portland-based company that manufactures eco-friendly, low-odor paints; the leather-working company Tanner Goods; florist Hilary Horvath; and Kiriko, an apparel manufacturer who works with ancient Japanese fabrics.

The result was an interactive evening called A Mercantile Meal, in honor of Colorhouse and Rejuvenation’s new collaboration. Called The Mercantile Collection, it's comprised of a palette of rich, elegant paints in separate color families, named after items available for purchase at general stores—chalk, tea, seed, denim, flint and spice.

mercantile-meal-portland-2.jpg mercantile-meal-portland-3.jpg

The communal meal took place at Elder Hall, French and Battista's recently opened event space with a full commercial kitchen next door to Ned Ludd’s. Evidence of the guests' talents were patent: spin art made with the Mercantile paint decorated each place setting, Rejuvenation contributed the chandeliers that lit up the dining hall and Horvath contributed bundles of hydrangeas and zinnias, while Kirikomade contributed the beautiful handmade quilt that hung behind the bar. Together, the assorted guests—who work at a variety of Portland companies like Mazama Wares and Jacobsen Salt—put together the flower arrangements, painted place settings, stamped and stapled leather napkin rings from Tanner Goods, and snacked on corn fritters and fennel tonnato while waiting for dinner to be served.


“We are makers, and we wanted to involve you in the process of the making,” said French in his opening remarks. “It’s a part of what makes Portland really special.” Of course, the focal point of the evening was its location, Elder Hall, decorated with what French has described as Shaker-inspired simplicity—the upshot of a successful Kickstarter to turn the space into a rustic dining room. Here they will host lectures and meetings, tastings, showcases and small chef dinners, and even summer camps where children can learn how to grow, cook and taste food.

Guests took their seats and dinner was served—a typically simple, gracious Ned Ludd meal of local fare, that started with a caprese-style salad and a pot pie of Oregon seafood, then moved to milk-braised pork with caponata and warm grapes before ending with strawberry ice, sugar cookies and Riesling jelly.

“In some ways, [food] producers have a much more interesting story [than mine],” said French. “We’re a medium between the producers and the public. There are strong problems in our food systems, and small gatherings of thinkers are a way to help clarify and create solutions for those problems. We want to work for people, not necessarily just for profit.”

For more information on Elder Hall, visit Ned Ludd’s website.

Images courtesy of Stuart Mullenberg

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft
Loading More...