Given that summer is prime food festival season, I thought I’d share a little TBT article I wrote for Neon Tommy on food fest protips. Plus, here are links to a few foodie events coming up to put your new skills to the test:
- L.A. Food & Wine
- L.A. Times’ The Taste
- 53rd Annual Watermelon Festival
- 626 Night Market
- Taste of Mexico
Food Festival Survival Tips: An Insider’s Guide
After regularly attending various tasting events, I’ve compiled a few tried-and-true tips for you, to maximize every food fest experience you encounter, without the learning curve (trust me, there is one!).
– If the fest takes place where there’s hot weather, bring water and sun protection. It will get hot, and it’s hard to keep scarfing down food while sweating profusely and getting scorched. Trust me on this one.
– Bring a tote bag to carry all the random (but awesome) freebies you’ll get, so you have both hands for eating! Sometimes you get tote bags at events, and sometimes you don’t. Since they can be folded up, you’re not risking much by taking one just in case.
– Come hungry, but pace yourself once you’re there. Be choosy and prioritize what you want to eat most, because those little bites add up faster than you think. The novice’s biggest mistake is to eat as much of everything they see as soon as they walk in, until they no longer can stuff their mouths with the food they really wish they had room for. This kind of tragedy kills me a little inside, personally. Don’t let it happen to you!
– Wear comfortable shoes and stretchy clothing. This is not a fashion show, people. Most of us are here to eat, not to teeter around in heels as we eat — and drink — excessively.
If you’re on the vendor side, some tips from a consumer standpoint include the following:
– Offer something small but unique, because you want to be worth every bite… because there are so many vendors to choose from. People may get full before they reach you, so you want to have something small but worth tasting!
– Incorporate something refreshing, if you can… or otherwise weather-appropriate, depending on the location and season. Sometimes, those are the most appealing and memorable bites.
– DEFINITELY have a written description of the food, because it serves neither you nor your customer if your dish was the best they’ve had, but they don’t even know what they ate. Having a sign enables you to focus on dishing out the food and greeting people instead of taking the time out to repeatedly describe it every two seconds. It also makes it easier on us food writers… just sayin’!
– Yes it can get tricky, but please try extra hard to bring enough of your advertised dish, because as an attendee, there’s nothing worse than missing out on what you wanted to try the most from your favorite vendor… and it’s not even halfway through the event. Having to settle for something you’re serving in place of the one thing we wanted most doesn’t compare, most of the time.
– When planning your dish, anticipate huge lines and have a game plan on how to turn the food around faster than you think you’ll need to!
– Smile! Occasionally, the lack of pleasant interaction has soured the experience of an otherwise great tasting. A friendly attitude when interacting with customers is what ties the whole food experience together, so please don’t forget that crucial step! People are excited to try your food, and a smile goes a long way.
Of course, many vendors have these things down pat, and there are a lot of logistics that make it much harder than it looks. But from a consumer standpoint, this is what we’d love to see. Anything else you’d like to add to either list, go ahead and add in the comments!
— This article can originally be found on Neon Tommy. —