Last month, I had the opportunity to attend MetroCooking DC for my third year! MetroCooking DC is a two day cooking and entertaining show held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. 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. Here are my previous posts covering MetroCooking DC: 2014 and 2015.
Disclosure: I received free entry to MetroCooking DC in exchange for coverage. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Throughout the day, there were cooking demonstrations from James Beard Award winning/nominated chefs and Taste Talks featuring a variety of food-related topics.
James Beard Foundation Cooking Stage
The cooking demonstrations were one of the highlights for me. MetroCooking DC changed things up a bit this year. In my previous two years, the celebrity cooking demonstrations were separated to a specialty section and required an additional entry fee. This year, they were mixed right into the other demonstrations so no separate ticket necessary. VIP events were still available for purchase with book signings and meet and greets. These also include reserved seats in the first two rows for the corresponding demonstration.
Victor Albisu was the first chef of the day. Albisu has two restaurants in the D.C. area- Del Campo (now closed), an upscale South American grill in D.C.’s Penn Quarter, and Taco Bamba, a takeout taqueria in Falls Church, Virginia. He made Ceviche and Rolled Wagyu Skirt Steak. He also used the scraps from the steak to make Empanadas.
Tom Colicchio was the first celebrity chef of the day and prepared Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic, Pan-Fried Sea Bass Stuffed with Roasted Tomatoes, and Caramelized Tomato Tarts. Colicchio was born and raised in Elizabeth, NJ. He is the head judge on Bravo’s Top Chef. His cookbook, Think Like a Chef, won The James Beard Foundation “KitchenAid” Cookbook Award in May 2001 and his restaurant, Craft, received The James Beard Foundation Award for “Best New Restaurant” in 2002.
Richard Sandoval was supposed to be the next demo, but unfortunately he was unavailable. Two of his chefs made Mahi Mahi A La Talla. He has restaurants all over the world from El Centro DF, Toro Toro, and Zengo in Washington, D.C. to others throughout the US and in Qatar, Tokyo, Serbia, Dubai, and Mexico.
The second celebrity chef demo of the day was by Duff Goldman. He is the founder of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, Maryland and also has a second shop in LA. For the demo, he made pita bread- a recipe featured in his newest book, Duff Bakes: Think and Bake Like a Pro at Home.
Peter Chang was the next chef. He made Sliced Chicken with Szechuan Chili Peppers on Hot Iron Plate and Hot & Numbing Shredded Tofu Skin. I particularly appreciated how much detail he put into the techniques of handing lesser known ingredients like tofu skin. Chang was born in the Hubei Province in China and moved to Washington, DC in 2000 to work as a chef at the Chinese Embassy. He specializes in Szechuan cuisine now has restaurants throughout Virginia and Maryland.
The last demo of the day was by Scott Drewno, the execute chef of Wolfgang Puck’s The Source in Washington DC. He made Shrimp Wontons and Hot & Sour Pumpkin Soup.
On Sunday, there were even more cooking demonstrations from James Beard Award winning/nominated chefs and Taste Talks featuring a variety of food-related topics. Caitlin Dysart was the first chef of the day and made a Flourless Chocolate Cake and White Chocolate & Mint Diplomat Cream as the base for a Buche de Noel. She is the pastry chef at 2941 Restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia and won the Rammy Award in 2014 for Pastry Chef of the Year.
Jacques Pépin and his daughter, Claudine Pépin, cooked together as the celebrity demonstration of the day. They showed some incredible techniques including creating tomato and butter roses, transforming a lemon into a bird, deboning a chicken, and making the perfect omelette. Jacques Pépin has written over 25 cookbooks, hosted 12 highly acclaimed public television shows, has taught at the French Culinary Institute since 1988, and is the Executive Culinary Director for Oceania Cruises.
David Guas is the chef/owner of Bayou Bakery in Arlington, Virginia and Washington, D.C. During his demonstration, he made an easy yet stunning Sweet Potato Tart Tartin. His second cookbook, Grill Nation: 200 Surefire Recipes, Tips, and Techniques to Grill like a Pro (Chad got this book last year and loves it), was released in April 2015. He also makes frequent appearances on “The Today Show” and “The Talk” along with his role as host and co-judge of Travel Channel’s summer competition series, “American Grilled.”
Erik Bruner-Yang is the chef/owner of Maketto in Washington, D.C. He is also the founder of Toki Underground. In 2016, he won the RAMMY Award for New Restaurant of the Year. For his demonstration, he made Prahok K’tiss (a spicy Khmer pork dip) along with a homemade curry paste.
RAMW Grand Tasting Pavilion
The RAMW (Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington) Grand Tasting Pavilion has been one of the highlights of MetroCooking DC for me each year. Over 40 restaurants participated this year with sips and samples benefiting Educated Eats (an organization committed to promoting the restaurant and food service industry as a career of unlimited opportunity).
Here are a few of the many restaurants represented:
District Doughnut and Coffee (Washington DC- Capitol Hill and Georgetown)– Vanilla Bean Glazed, Brown Butter, Creme Brûlée
Dolci Gelati (Washington DC)– Gelato (Saffron Pistachio, Persimmon, Eggnog) and Sorbet (Cuba Libre, Apple Cider)
Agua 301 and Carmine’s
Agua 301 (Washington, D.C.)– Beef Brisket Taco
Richard Sandoval Restaurants
Richard Sandoval Restaurants Washington, D.C.– Barbecue Pork Rib with Pickled Cucumber, Pickled Asparagus Crostini with Smoked Cream Cheese, Meatballs, Guacamole
Circa and Duke’s Counter
Circa (Arlington, Virginia and Washington, D.C.)– Mustard BBQ Short Rib Sliders
Duke’s Counter (Washington, D.C.)– Local Corn ‘Elote Loco’ Crema Mexicana, Cotija, Coriander, Chili
The Fourth Estate and Colada Shop
The Fourth Estate at the National Press Club (Washington DC)– Crispy Chicken Sliders with Jalapeño Slaw
Colada Shop (Sterling, Virginia and Washington, D.C.)– Tres Leches Cake with Rum
Beer, Wine & Spirits Garden
For a separate entry fee, the Beer, Wine & Spirits Garden was open both days from 12-4. This section featured samples from a variety of breweries, wineries and distilleries, many local (Knob Hall Winery, Notavina Vineyards, Lolea, Starr Hill Brewery, KO Distilling, Virginia Distillery Co, Catoctin Creek, Dogfish Head Distilling Co, and Escutcheon Brewing Co photographed above). There were also demos by Notaviva Vineyards and Dogfish Head along with book signings by Stephen Mackey and Sam Calagiones.
Next door to the Beer, Wine & Spirits Garden was the BBQ Bash from 12-4. This was the second year of the event featuring tastings from some of the top local BBQ. The bash also included cooking demos by David Guas and Diva Q.
Twenty booths were set up and the following are from the photo above: Beef Tri-Tip from Hog-It-Up with a Korean-style Marinade on Petite Potato Slider Buns topped with Elijah Craig Bourbon Onion Jam and Savory Black Pepper Sauce accompanied by Tennessee Dill Whisky Pickles. Smoke Stack’s House of BBQ served up Beef Brisket and Ribs with Rub and Sauce. My favorite was from Bayou Bakery with a BBQ Pork and Buttermilk Biscuit. Relish This made Zucchini Relish. I also enjoyed the Pit Smoked Brisket with Cucumber & Onion Salad from Hill Country Barbecue Market, Ribs from Randy’s Ribs & Barbecue, and Chicken Thigh Samples from Dizzy Pig.
Other special events of the day included a Tom Colicchio Meet and Greet/Book Signing, Duff Goldman Tasting Event/Book Signing, Carla Hall Book Signing, and L’academie De Cuisine Pop-Up Cooking School classes.
In between the demos and other events, I made my way around the main section to see the vendors. Here are just a few of the dozens featuring a variety of local/small-business products.
Falling Bark Farm and Pennacook Peppers
Falling Bark Farm is owned by Travis and Joyce Miller in Clarke County, Virginia. They feature hickory syrup, honey, coffee, and vanilla extract.
Pennacook Peppers is based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The company began in 2011 with the signature Pennacook Purely Pepper Powder that uses a complex mix of peppers with various levels of heat. They also sell an assortment of Porch Party Salsas and Pepper Jelly.
Mary’s Cakery and Candy Kitchen
Mary’s Cakery and Candy Kitchen is located in King George, Virginia. They offer a variety of sweet treats from shaped and themed chocolates to rich fudge and other confections.
Maple Leaf Farms and Jody’s Gourmet Popcorn
Maple Leaf Farms has been producing white pekin ducks raised on family-owned farms for over half a century. Their products are available at a variety of retailers.
Jody’s Gourmet Popcorn is based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Their popcorn comes in an assortment of flavors including Recipe 53 Caramel, Chocolate Drizzle, Peppermint Crunch, Funfetti, Cinnamon Toast, Caribbean Key Lime, and Mango Tango.
Taste Artisanal Market and Baily Organic Tea
Taste Artisanal Market is based in Newark, Delaware. They feature a variety of flavorful cheese spreads, honeys, and chutneys.
Baily Tea USA offers a wide range of the highest quality tea from Ceylon that is hand harvested to prevent the addition of other ingredients like twigs. They are in Gaithersburg, Maryland and feature their tea at locations throughout the DC/Maryland/Virginia area.
Cavedoni Balsamic and Straw Stick & Brick Delicatessen
The family of Cavedoni Balsamic has been producing premium traditional balsamic vinegars for seven generations in Castelvetro, near Modena, Italy. Best sellers include the Botte Piccola, Il Caratello, Gusto Tartufo Balsamic Condiment, and SABA Balsamic Condiment.
The Straw Stick & Brick Delicatessen is located in Washington, D.C. Their products (a variety of cured meats and sandwiches) are handcrafted and butchered using locally sourced meat and without unnecessary chemicals used to prolong shelf-life.
Mitra’s and Capital City Mambo Sauce
Mitra’s bath and body products use unrefined Shea Butter as the base and no parabens, petrochemicals or preservatives. Products include body butter, sugar scrubs, bath bombs and body oil, lip care and facial care, African black soap, net body scrubbers, and hair care.
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. This sweet and tangy sauce for chicken wings is specific to the metropolitan DC area.
Le Bon Magot and Inspired Cravings
Le Bon Magot features products developed from internationally-inspired recipes using natural ingredients, high-quality and seasonal produce, custom-blended aromatics and no preservatives. Flavors include Brinjal Caponata, Tomato and White Sultana Chutney, White Pumpkin and Almond Murabba, Lemon-Sultana Marmalata, and Spiced Raisin Marmalata. Retail locations range from Pennsylvania to New York.
Inspired Cravings is located in Washington, D.C. and uses the proceeds of their cupcakes to fund Youth Empowerment Workshops and Scholarships. Cupcake flavors include Courage, Dream, Love, Passion, Peace, Self-Esteem, Strength, and Trust.
Cooking Light, My Recipes, and Go Oats
Go Oats is a fairly new company (August 2015) based in Lorton, Virginia. Their products are a way to enjoy oatmeal on the go in bite size form. Flavors include Maple Brown Sugar (my favorite), Cranberry Walnut, and Fresh Blueberry.
Interested in attending MetroCooking DC? The dates for this year are December 9-10, 2017.