Monday, October 02, 2006

Feast to Famine

Daddy Jameson wasn't as happy with the Culinary Arts Experience this
year. It was a scaled-down event. We noticed the difference when we
approached Gateway Village's promenade for the sold-out preview gala on
Friday. I didn't realize how much smaller the festival would be without
the Blues, Brews & BBQ component. The
festival was contained in the promenade area. Last year, it stretched
down Trade Street, with cooking stations in the streets and a mini
farmer's market, along with a huge wine area near the Doubletree hotel.

The promenade area was pleasantly full. We zipped through short lines
for food samples from restaurants and wine samples from wineries. We
wanted to get a martini, but the line was way too long. The martini area
was the most fun, with people chanting and getting rowdy like they would
at a bar.

My dad lingered around a small cooking demonstration station near Fifth
Street. He tried sashimi tuna for the first time, while my mom and I
sampled more food. Both of them tried Ethiopian food for the first time
and loved it.

My folks, especially my mom, were happy with Friday's event, but Dad was
disappointed Saturday. Last year, he bought tokens to sample food from
local restaurants, but he also ate lots of free food cooked on the main stage. Apparently, last year students cooked
the dishes that the celebrity chefs prepared on the main stage.
Volunteers walked the samples around to the crowd, and handed out recipe
cards. That didn't happen this year.

The VIP after-party was smaller as well. Last year, it was on top of a
parking deck and included a live band. This year, it was indoors and
featured a DJ. I liked the DJ, who spun funky house music. My parents
preferred the live band. We finished the night at Cedar Street Tavern
with chicken wings and burgers.

Daddy Jameson said he's not sure if he's coming back for the Culinary
Arts Experience next year. I told him organizers would probably tweak
the event some more, and I would keep him posted. Mom said she wants to
come back.

What did you think of this year's Culinary Arts Experience? Post your reply below.


Anonymous said...

Just a note - the Blues, Brews, and BBQ was made into it's own festival the weekend prior to this one. It isn't gone -just relocated.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your dad. It was a much smaller event, and we were disappointed that they didn't have food samples at the main stage. If it's like that again next year, we won't be back.

ed barnette said...

I attended both days of both events and preferred it to last year. The BB&BBQ was better presented, more accessible, and truly deserves to be an event of it's own. There were 25 national teams and 44 backyard griller's, making it one of the largest events of it's type in the East. The cullinary event concentrated on the "fine dining" style of food, all the areas (other than the martini bar} were easier to access and I was able to watch, hear and eat what the chef's were preparing. Overall, I think both events will be better off to remain separate and will become stronger every year. I hope your father will give it another chance.