I attended quite the exciting event last weekend (October 24-25, 2015)! It was the tenth year of MetroCooking DC, hosted by E.J. Krause & Associates, Inc! MetroCooking DC is a two day cooking and entertaining show held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. This huge foodie event has something for everyone from celebrity and James Beard award winning chefs to cooking lessons, tastings from local restaurants, demonstrations, vendors, book signings, and so much more.
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I had such a great time last year (MetroCooking DC 2014), and this time definitely did not disappoint.
Giada de Laurentiis
Giada de Laurentiis was the featured Celebrity Chef on Saturday. She held two demonstrations, a VIP meet and greet, and a book signing for Giada’s Feel Good Food: My Healthy Recipes and Secrets. I attended the 11 am demonstration where she guided participants in making Lamb Ossobuco and Tomato Sauce. While the guests were preparing the ingredients, she talked with the audience and answered questions such as her favorite cuisine other than Italian (Japanese) and plans for future shows.
Michael Symon was the headlining celebrity chef on Sunday. He hosted a morning and afternoon cooking demonstration, VIP meet and greet, and a 5 in 5 Seasonal Soiree with an autographed copy of his newest cookbook Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 for Every Season: 165 Quick Dinners, Sides, Holiday Dishes, and More. I attended the morning cooking demonstration where he prepared Spatchcock Chicken with Smashed Potatoes and a Greek Salad. I have always been nervous about working with whole chickens, so I appreciated his tips for the spatchcock technique (removing the backbone to fully butterfly the bird so it will flatten in the skillet). The smashed potatoes also looked interesting and delicious. The potatoes were boiled until tender, then lightly smashed before frying. As Symon stated, it is the best of both worlds- the crispiness of french fries with the interior creaminess of a baked potato. His personality definitely shines on stage.
Christina Tosi and Peter Meehan
Christina Tosi (Springfield Virginia native and owner of Milk Bar/judge on MasterChef) and Peter Meehan (former writer for the New York Times, cookbook co-author, co-editor of Lucky Peach) did a question and answer session about Tosi’s newest cookbook, Milk Bar Life: Recipes & Stories. They included background information, how the idea for the book came about, and how it is geared more for home cooks.
James Beard Cooking Stage
There was also a James Beard Cooking Stage presented by Ikea featuring demonstrations by James Beard award winners, nominees, and guest chefs. I noticed a huge improvement in the stage compared to last year. It was much easier to see the demonstrator’s work and there was also a camera for close-up shots.
Featured chefs included Dean Gold (Fra Diavolo, Fra Diavolo Sauce), Sherry Yard (Apple Strudel), Josu Zubikarai (Cazuela de Merluza con Almejas En Salsa Verde), Erik Bruner-Yang (Coconut Milk and Prahok Dipping Sauce), Victor Albisu (Arepas with Grilled Lobster Filling, Octopus Filling and Pigs Feet Filling), Caitlin Dysart (Brown Sugar Pavlova, Red Wine Poached Pears), Tim Ma (Coconut Risotto with Scallops and Basil Ice Cream), Claudio Pirollo (Gravlax of Salmon with Potato Waffle and Old Mustard Dressing), Austin Fausett (Roasted Garlic Soup), and Bryan Voltaggio (Photographed above- Crab Waffles Chesapeake, Smoked Shrimp and Grits).
For those wanting something a little more hands-on, the L’Academie de Cuisine hosted a cooking school with the following classes: Holiday Hors d’Oeuvres, Basic Knife Skills, Easy Dim Sum, Cake Decorating 101: Buttercream Basics, Classic Sauces, and Kids Sushi Making.
This year was the debut of the BBQ Bash highlighting some of the best BBQ and grilling restaurants in the area. There were also demonstrations and a book signing for Grill Nation: 200 Surefire Recipes, Tips, and Techniques to Grill Like a Pro by Chef David Guas, owner of Bayou Bakery and host of the Travel Channel’s Grilled. Here is a sample of some of the restaurants in attendance:
Smoker’s Delight BBQ
Smokers Delight BBQ and Catering (La Plata, Maryland)– Pork and Chicken
Bayou Bakery (Arlington, Virginia and Washington DC)– Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Sweet & Spicy Guava BBQ Sauce
Pickett’s American Craft Ginger Beer
Pickett’s American Craft Ginger Beer (Brooklyn, New York and Denver, Colorado): Also available online and select retailers– Ginger Beer Syrup
Tessemae’s All Natural Matty’s BBQ Sauce (Essex, Maryland)
Smoke & Barrel
Smoke & Barrel (Washington DC)-BBQ Pork
Southern Belles BBQ
Southern Belles BBQ– Original Belle, Spicy Hickory Smoke, Pineapple Twang, Ms. Mango, Blueberry Blues, Southern Heat, and Hot N Sassy Peach
Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill
RAMW Grand Tasting Pavilion
One of my favorite events, the RAMW Grand Tasting Pavilion, was a big focus of the afternoon. Over 40 of the area’s top restaurants were in attendance with a variety of treats to sample. A portion of the proceeds went to Educated Eats, an organization promoting careers in restaurant and food service by offering scholarships to high school students and individuals working in the restaurant industry. Here were some of the offerings:
Dolci Gelati (Washington DC/Takoma Park, Maryland/Old Town Alexandria, Virginia/Dolci Gelati Food Truck)- Pumpkin Pie, Stracciatella, Salted Caramel, Bacio (Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato), Honey Crisp Apple Sorbetto.
Lavagna (Washington, DC)– Housemade Rigatoni Bolognese
Il Canale (Washington, DC)- Cannoli Di Ricotta Alla Siciliana
Osteria Marzano (Alexandria, Virginia)– Ravioli di Short Rib
Haute Dogs & Fries
Haute Dogs & Fries (Alexandria and Purcellville, Virginia)- Bombshell Hot Dogs(Sautéed onions, mango- pineapple relish, jalapeños)
Moorenko’s (Silver Spring, Maryland and select Whole Foods/Giants)- Pumpkin, Peppermint Stick, Salted Caramel with Praline
The Fourth Estate
The Fourth Estate (Washington, DC)- Lamb and Beef Ginger Meatballs with Spiced Tamarind Dipping Sauce
The Tabard Inn
The Tabard Inn (Washington, DC)– Tuna Tartare
In case you didn’t have enough to keep occupied, the center of the hall was filled with hundreds of specialty food vendors to explore. The businesses ranged from artisan products to chocolates, desserts, olive oils, candy, ice cream, cookbooks, and so much more.
Nekisha Roache, author of From My Mudda’s Kitchen: A Jamaican Cookbook, had a booth setup to promote her cookbook filled with her favorite Jamaican recipes. She also has live cooking demos on Periscope (@Gratitude247). You can keep up with the latest events on the book’s Facebook page.
I was first introduced to Pericles Konstas of Spartan Oil at MetroCooking DC last year. His olive oil is produced from the family’s ancient olive trees in Sparta, Greece that are harvested by hand, pressed mechanically within 24 hours of harvest, and is not filtered. The olive oil is stored in all natural stoneware bottles that help keep the oil at a consistent temperature, are non-reactive, and prevent light transmission.
Neuhaus was founded in 1857 by Swiss immigrant Jean Neuhaus. He opened a pharmacy in Brussels and covered the prepared medicines in chocolate to make them easier to take. In 1912, his grandson created praline (chocolates filled with cream instead of medicine) and the business has continued to grow and sell chocolates in over 50 countries. Neuhaus has also been the official supplier to the Belgian Royal Court since 2000. All the chocolate is manufactured in Vlezenbeek, Belgium and shipped worldwide. Neuhaus has a store in Union Station and other locations around the United States.
Sweet Pearlz Cheesecakes
Sweet Pearlz Cheesecakes is a family-owned bakery based in Gainesville, Virginia. They create a variety of made to order cheesecakes (plus gluten free and vegan options), toppings, and naked cakes (this was new to me, how interesting!) and are available for weddings, special events, corporate events, dessert pairings, and special orders (allow for 72 hours or longer for large orders).
Capital City Mambo Sauce
Capital City Mambo Sauce was founded by husband and wife team Arsha and Charles Jones to keep the flavors of Arsha’s childhood alive for her children. Mambo Sauce was developed in the late 1960s as a condiment for fried chicken wings. It is a sweet and tangy sauce similar to Sweet and Sour sauce and has since spread to Asian restaurants for pairing with takeout, but is still specific to the metropolitan DC area.
Teapigs USA was started in 2006 by Nick and Louise as a way to bring attention to the lesser known high quality teas. The company came to the United States (based in New York) in 2014. You can buy their products online and in select grocery stores.
Yancey’s Fancy is an artisan cheese producer based in Corfu, New York. In addition to natural cheeses and cheese curds, they also make a variety of flavors such as Buffalo Wing, Champagne, Pepperoni, Strawberry Chardonnay, Wasabi, Grilled Bacon Cheeseburger, and Maple.
Dress It Up Dressing
Dress It Up Dressing was created by Sophia, previously a filmmaker turned stay at home mom, and is based in Bethesda, Maryland. The idea was inspired by her brother declaring that their mother’s dressing was good enough to sell. The vinaigrette base of olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and mustard is available in the following flavors: Apple Cider, Blackberry, Champagne, and Red Wine.
Trois Petits Cochons
Les Trois Petits Cochons (The Three Little Pigs) began as a small charcuterie in Greenwich Village, New York City in 1975 and has now grown to offer a complete line of artisanal pâtés, mousses, terrines, sausages, saucissons, smoked meats and other French specialties.
Amoretti was founded in 1989 by Jack Barsoumian in Oxnard, California. The company now produces over 2,000 products that include pastry ingredients, beverage flavors, syrups for coffee & tea, martini mixes made with real fruit, smoothie mixes, organic infused olive oils, and more. I was particularly fond of their cookie spreads.
True Made Foods
True Made Foods was founded Kevin Powell and Abraham Kamarck in 2014. When Kevin was first married, his wife Abbey would hide vegetables in their dinners to combat his pickiness. When she made a ketchup using spinach, carrots, and butternut squash, he was hooked and introduced it to Abraham. They now make True Ketchup (Spinach, Carrot, Butternut Squash), True BBQ Sauce, and Veracha Hot Sauce.
Velatis has a long history in the DC area. It was first founded in the 1850s in Richmond, Virginia by Salvator Velati of Turin. The original store burned down during the civil war, but it was rebuilt in Washington, DC in 1866. The candy shop is now located in Silver Spring, Maryland with a variety of caramels, toffee, chocolates, truffles, baked goods, and gifts.
Popcorn Queens is a mother daughter team, April and Bonnie Wardlaw, based in Washington, DC. They switched from catering to focus solely on popcorn in 2013 and now offer 9 different flavors- Bourbon Pecan, Buttered Rum, Chesapeake, Chipotle, Cinnamon Apple, Classic Caramel, Peanut, and Salted.
Daisy Cakes,owned by Kim Daisy, is a bakery based in Pauline, South Carolina. Four layer cakes are available in red velvet, chocolate, lemon, coconut, carrot, gluten free carrot, and gluten free chocolate. She also has a cookbook- Daisy Cakes: Share a Slice of Love.
Bee Raw Honey
Bee Raw Honey, owned by Zeke Freeman, offers raw honey that is not processed, heated, or filtered. I loved the pure flavor in the samples offered. Their products include multiple varieties of honey, tea, gift collections, and supplies.
Graeter’s Ice Cream
Graeter’s Ice Cream was first started in 1868 by Louis Graeter in Cincinnati, Ohio. The company is now run by the fourth generation- Bob, Chip, and Richard and currently the only commercial retailer to still use French Pot Freezers. You can find their ice cream, gelato, low glycemic products, and sorbet online or at select retailers.
Salt of the 7 Seas
Salts of the 7 Seas is a gourmet salt company featuring whole mineral, all natural sea salts.
Theo was founded by Joe Whinney as a way to make organic chocolate from the purest ingredients grown in the most sustainable ways. All the products are organic, fair trade, and fair for life. The factory store is located in Seattle, Washington and offers tours 7 days a week, chocolate classes, and special events.
She Peppers, started by Stephanie and Vickie, began as a love for gardening. This grew into a passion for making sauces and seasoning blends with the best possible ingredients. 75 percent of the ingredients used are actually grown in their backyard.
SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier is a gourmet chocolate company based in Maryland. The chocolate is created from cocoa beans grown on their farm located on the mountain slopes of eastern Dominican Republic. There is a boutique and factory in Gaithersburg and another boutique in Oxon Hill. For locals wanting an extra chocolate experience, they have factory tours and chocolate making classes available.
Purely Elizabeth was founded by owner, Elizabeth Stein, as a part of a dream to start a natural foods company. The first product line was created in 2009 and first landed on store shelves in January 2010. You can purchase the ancient grain muesli, ancient grain granola and puffs cereal, ancient grain granola, ancient grain oatmeal and hot cereal, cookie mixes, grab and go single serve, and merchandise online or in select retailers nationwide.
Belgioioso was founded by Errico Auricchio in 1979 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The cheese is produced using the freshest available milk with the cheese plants are located within 30 miles of the dairy farmers. The company work with farmers that pledge to not use rBST or antibiotics. All of the cheeses are naturally gluten-free and a few types are vegetarian due to the use of a non-animal enzymes. Some are also kosher certified.
SuperSeedz is a company specializing in gourmet pumpkin seeds. It was founded by Kathie Pelliccio when she would make batches of seasoned pumpkin seeds in her kitchen. She was soon joined by her husband, Joe Pelliccio. Available flavors include: Sea Salt, Somewhat Spicy, Cinnamon and Sugar, Coco Joe, Tomato Italiano, Super Spicy, Curious Curry, Really Naked, and Maple Sugar and Sea Salt.
Jonathan’s Spoons was also present with a beautiful assortment of handcrafted wooden spoons and other kitchen tools. The owner, Jonathan, got the idea for the business while he was working as an apprentice to a furniture maker. He forgot a spoon in his lunchbox and shaped one out of a piece of scrap wood. He moved to Pennsylvania in 1979 and began selling his spoons. After trying an assortment of woods, he now makes his spoons out of cherry wood with a natural cherry finish. His products are made in his rural Kempton, Pennsylvania shop with two of his brothers.
The Olio Tasting Room has locations in Alexandria and Middleburg, Virginia. Products include infused oils, vinegars, teas, finishing sea salts, spices, gourmet items, accessories, and gift ideas.
In addition to the BBQ Bash, Tessemae’s also had a booth among the vendors. The CEO, Greg, is the oldest of three brothers and used his mom Tesse’s salad dressing as inspiration. In 2009, he sold 60 cases of the dressing to the Annapolis Whole Foods. The company’s product line now includes Balsamic, Classic Caesar, Cracked Pepper, Green Goddess, Lemon Chesapeake, Soy Ginger, Zesty Ranch, Honey Mustard, Hot Buffalo Sauce, Ketchup, Teriyaki, Slow Roasted Garlic Spread, and more. Instead of refined sugars, homemade date puree is used to sweeten the products.
We definitely had a great weekend and Claire got to experience her first food event! Want to join the fun? Mark your calendars to attend MetroCooking DC next year- December 3-4, 2016 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC!