by Andrew Marder, special to Edible DC MetroCooking DC, a two-day culinary extravaganza, is an overwhelming experience. Vendors ranging from DC root beer brewer Thunder Beast to national brands like Kind Healthy Snacks litter the floor. A visitor could easily gain thirty pounds from samples alone—and that's not counting the booze or the Grand Tasting Pavilion.
Food lovers were packed into the Washington Convention Center like sardines this past weekend, where celebrity chefs signed books and put on demonstrations, headlined by Food Network mainstays Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri. Cookbook authors dotted the convention floor; in one corner you might find James Beard Award-winning chef Todd English promoting his books like Cooking in Everyday English, while author Paula Shoyer was in another direction, leading recipe demonstrations from her book The Holiday Kosher Baker. It was like wandering through a three-dimensional magazine, complete with ads and well-presented food.
DC's own Union Kitchen, a local food incubator profiled in Edible DC’s Fall 2014 issue, had an impressive presence on the show floor, with several of their members sharing samples of their culinary work, including Thunder Beast, Popcorn Queens, 'Chups, and True Honey Teas. 'Chups makes flavored ketchups, and its mango and cherry flavors did not disappoint.
DC-based Coexist Coffee also made an appearance, promoting its coffee and charity work. Coexist is a conflict zone charity that raises funds in part through the sale of direct trade products. The beans are roasted in Annapolis by Ceremony Coffee and can be found under the Coexist brand across the District — they brew up a fantastic cup.
Two food delivery companies were also on hand - Relay Foods and Caviar. Relay Foods is a homegrown operation that delivers local and organic groceries around DC, while Caviar, a restaurant delivery service already operating in a dozen other cities, is just starting to rev up its D.C. business.
Many other regional businesses made an appearance, including 17-year-old Naughty Girl Cupcakes founder Tiana Ramos. Naughty Girl is based out of Front Royal and Ramos is busy juggling her senior year of high school and a full-time business, which she says is a rewarding - if sometimes bumpy - ride.
As I finally made my way out of the exhibit hall, full of local treats and inspired to try everything from Union Kitchen, Flay was just beginning his final presentation. He promised the audience that he would demonstrate some dishes, make some sangria, and, finally, get drunk. Based on the eruption of applause, everyone in the audience was ready to join him.