A weekend of food, entertaining, and fun

Metro Cooking DC returns to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center

The weekend of Nov. 8 brought about the ninth annual Metro Cooking DC, a cooking and entertaining show that takes place every year around the same time—just in time to help with the holidays for entertaining inspiration and the opportunity to pick up some unique gifts for family and friends. The show hosted an estimated 18,000 attendees over the weekend and with a cost of just $20 to attend the show, it’s no mystery why; it’s a steal of a deal! But like every show, there are ad-ons available.

General admission tickets include admission to the Tasting &
Entertaining Workshop Area, James Beard cooking demos, the exhibitor marketplace which featured more than 300 vendors selling specialty food and other related products.

Headliners Guy Fieri and Bobby Flay presented demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, adding on the opportunity to see them live ranges from $35-95 or attend a book signing with them (book included) for $35. Of course, if you wanted to make a weekend of it, $80 got you a ticket to both shows. But the show didn’t stop there; the Grand Tasting Pavillion, a crowd
favorite, was $59.50 for 35 tickets to use to sample food from over 40 different local chefs and restaurants. The best part? All of the above add- ons included the general admission ticket in them.

A show like this would not have been complete without some spirits though, so for an additional $24 attendees could have visted the beer, wine, and spirits pavilion, or for an additional $55-120, they could have attended private cooking classes learning knife skills, how to make holiday hors d’ oeuvres, or fondant cake decorating.
Lets break down the show

Celebrity Theater

Backstage, Guy Fieri signs a fellow chef’s jacket at a mix and mingle event available to the public with the purchase of a VIP ticket.
Backstage, Guy Fieri signs a fellow chef’s jacket at a mix and mingle event available to the public with the purchase of a VIP ticket. Photo courtesy of Brendan Kownacki

Saturday, Nov. 8 brought Guy Fieri to the celebrity stage entertaining guests with his normal Fieri flare. Sunday, Nov. 9, Bobby Flay came to the same stage, demonstrating to onlookers how to make a red wine sangria, a pan roasted chicken with chimichurri sauce, and a vegetable paella.

The Marketplace is where exhibitor’s set up in droves to expose the masses to their unique wares and services. Almost everyone had something to sell on the spot, whether that be chocolates from local Baltimore Parfections, or Flavor Bombs’ (www.flavorbombs. com) creator Gio from New Jersey. Vendors came from around the country with the hopes of making some extra holiday money and offer attendees special show specials; whether it be skincare products, hand-crafted aprons, or flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

Grand Tasting Pavillion

While demonstrating his talents, Bobby Flay interacts with the audience
While demonstrating his talents, Bobby Flay interacts with the audience. Photo courtesy of Brendan Kownacki

For an upcharge, attendees could purchase 35 tickets to use in the tasting pavilion. It cost one ticket for each vendor’s item, with over 50 items to choose from over 40 different local DC chefs and restarants.

Vendors ranged from high-end chain locations like Dean & Deluca and Blackfinn to local favorite spots like Food Wine & Co. and Sweet Teensy bakery. Vendors were not providing bite or two-bite tastings, but rather hearty portions that not only filled attendees up, but also left many in a food coma state.

Beer, Wine & Spirits Pavillion

Slightly disconnected from the rest of the show was the beer, wine, and spirits pavilion, which offered roughly 50 varieties for those who purchased a ticket for that portion to enjoy. The wines ranged from stateside to international wines, but disappointingly, there weren’t any local wines. The alcohol was only there for tasting and could not be purchased, making for a serious disconnect with the rest of the show, which was either local or available for purchase. There were a variety of approximately 15 craft beers available as well. A. Smith Bowman Distillery was on hand to serve up their delicious bourbon and gin, and Anestasia Vodka was also serving their smooth vodka that’s made in Oregon, but available in Maryland and DC through a local distributor.

Also available in the pavilion was an education area to learn from wine and cocktail seminars. Hopefully, they will improve this next year by having local wineries come and do tastings, so that not only can attendees taste, but also buy. Exhibitor Standouts:
~Karen Mary Confectionery (www. karenmaryco.com) for their fresh hand-crafted marshmallows

~SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier (www. spagnvola.com) for their local hand- crafted truffles made with chocolate from the Dominican Republic. They offer free weekend tours of their factory located in Gaithersburg, MD.

~Kurykahveci Mehmet Efendi (www.mehmetefendi.com) for their Turkish coffee and the education they provided about it

~Laconiko Olive Oils (www. laconiko.com) for their wide selections of delicious flavored olive oils

~Bee Raw LLC (www.beeraw.com) for their delicious honey varieties

~Three Little Pigs Charcuterie & Salumi (www.threelittlepigsdc.com) for their out-of-this-world smoked meats and seafood, like their smokes salmon, slab bacon, duck prosciutto, Tasso, and Jerky

~Lilly’s Gourmet Maple Butter (www.fossgourmetfoods.com) for their Maple Sugar Butter that was out of this world

Tastings Standouts

~BlackFinn (www.blackfinndc.com) for their tuna tartare

~Smith & Wollensky (www. smithandwollensky.com) for their beef carpaccio

~The National Press Club Fourth Estate Restaurant (www.press.org/ restaurants/fourth-estate) for their calamari cakes

~Food Wine & Co. (www. foodwineandco.com) for their celery root vichyssoise

~The Chocolatier’s Palette (www. thechocolatierspalette.com) for their incredible melt-in-your-mouth chocolates in flavors such as Spiced Mango, Lavender Blueberry, and Tomato Basil. Yes, Tomato Basil (originally created for Giada de Laurentiis)

~Giffords Ice Cream (www. giffordsicecream.com) for their Maine inspired ice cream in flavors such as Mt. Katahdin Crunch

~ Silo (www.silodc.com) for their tasty shrimp and grits

~Guy Fieri’s Baltimore Kitchen and Bar (www.caesars.com/baltimore) at Horseshoe Casino for their B-more Fries

Gallery Photos courtesy of Jessica Greenstein

Feature Image courtesy of Brendan Kownacki

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