Last month, I spent a weekend attending MetroCooking DC 2017! This was my fourth year and I’m so glad I had the opportunity again before our upcoming move. 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 is packed with celebrity and James Beard award winning chefs, cooking lessons, tastings from local restaurants, demonstrations, vendors, book signings, and so much more. Check out my previous posts covering MetroCooking DC here: 2014 (Part 1 and 2), 2015 (Part 1 and 2), and 2016 (Part 1 and 2).
Disclosure: I received free entry to MetroCooking DC in exchange for coverage. All comments and opinions are my own.
James Beard Foundation Cooking Stage
Erik Bruner-Yang was the first demo of the day on the James Beard Foundation Cooking Stage. He is the chef/owner of Maketto, Honeycomb, Paper Horse, and the new Brothers and Sisters in Washington, D.C. and the founder of Toki Underground. In 2016, he won the RAMMY Award for New Restaurant of the Year. For his demonstration, he made Strange Flavor Eggplant with Tofu Hummus.
Guy Fieri was next on the line-up and prepared Grilled Cioppino with Fire-Roasted Tomato and Vegetable Puree along with a Pumpkin Pie Jacknog. Throughout the day, he also had a book signing, meet and greet, and holiday happy hour.
Michael Friedman is a Westfield, New Jersey native and chef/owner of The Red Hen and All-Purpose Pizzeria in Washington, D.C. He was recognized as a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2017. For the demonstration, he prepared Potato Gnocchi and Gnocchi alla Romana.
Michael Schlow is chef and restauranteur with restaurants in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. Awards including being named “Best Chef in the Northeast” by the James Beard Foundation, “Best Chef in the Country” by Sante Magazine, as well as the “Culinary Award of Excellence” by Robert Mondavi. He prepared Rigatoni with Soppersata, White Beans, and Black Olives.
I have especially enjoyed watching Victor Albisu’s demonstrations year after year. He is the chef/owner of Del Campo, an upscale South American grill in D.C.’s Penn Quarter, and Taco Bamba, a takeout taqueria in Falls Church, Virginia. He also recently opened a third Taco Bamba in Springfield (the second is in Vienna along with a lunch counter at Del Campo). This year, he prepared a variety of Ceviche.
Sherry Yard was the final demonstration of the day. She is the Chief Operating Officer of the Tuck Hospitality Group and has won three James Beard Awards along with an induction into their Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America. She prepared Brioche-Crusted Maryland Blue Crab Cakes.
Taste Talks were also scheduled throughout the day. The first was by George Pagonis, the executive chef/partner of Kapnos Taverna and Kapnos Kouzina. He went over the Greek-Style Holiday Meal: Taking Your Meat to the Next Level.
I am a huge fan of Carla Hall and was so excited to see her in person. Previously a competitor on Top Chef and Top Chef: All Stars, she is now the co-host of ABC’s The Chew. She went through the steps for making perfect homemade buttermilk biscuits and also had a book signing following the talk.
The final Taste Talk of the day was by Jacoby Ponder. He spent ten years as a Culinary Specialist in the Navy before becoming a certified culinary expert to the stars, appearing on shows such as Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen, and now establishing his own culinary company, Chef Ponder & Co. He went over seafood cooking techniques and tips.
Beer, Wine, and Spirits Garden
For a separate entry fee (general admission included with ticket, 21 and older only), the Beer, Wine & Spirits Garden was open from 12-5 on Saturday and 12-4 on Sunday. This exclusive area featured samples from a variety of breweries, wineries, distilleries, and cideries. Participates this year included Pale Fire Brewing Co, Bluestone Vineyard, Escutcheon Brewing Co, Cave Ridge Vineyard, Knob Hall Winery, Raven Beer, Miscellaneous Distillery, and more.
Next door to the Beer, Wine & Spirits Garden was the BBQ Bash from 12-4 (Saturday only) presented by Hill Country. This was the third year of the event featuring tastings from twenty of the top local BBQ. There were also demonstrations from Ash Fulk and Marjorie Meek-Bradley. Notable additions this year included Pit Smoked Brisket with a Cucumber Onion Salad by Hill Country, Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbeque, Lefty’s Barbecue, BS Grillin’ Company, Old Blue BBQ, Ole Man’s Spice Rub & Seasoning, Jadean’s Smokin Six O, Mike D’s BBQ, Caulfield Provision Company, and Brother Jimmy’s BBQ.
The L’academie De Cuisine Pop-Up Cooking School also had classes throughout the day on topics such as Seasonal Sauces, Building a Better Salad, Holiday Cupcakes, Italian Classics, The Art of Sushi, Party Hor d’Oeuvres, and Sous-vide.
In between the demos and other events, I made my way around the main section to see the vendors. Here are just a few featuring a variety of local/small-business products ranging from chocolates, desserts, and olive oils to candy, ice cream, sauces, and more.
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.
Little Austria is based in Potomac Falls, Virginia and create both traditional and new types of strudel. Flavors include apple, pear-walnut, cherry-apple, plum, topfen, and apple fig walnut. There are also vegan options available as well as dairy/egg free upon request.
BS Grillin’ Company had both a vendor stand and a spot at the BBQ Bash. This certified woman-owned enterprise is based in Virginia and has developed deep, rich BBQ sauce flavors with the subtlety of a sophisticated aged whiskey. All of the products use all-natural ingredients and are low-sugar, gluten-free, and vegan.
Georgian Feast is a catering company for the greater DC area. Their menu features a variety of authentic Georgian dishes such as Khinkali (dumplings), Khachapuri (pastry stuffed with cheese), Tcharkhlis pkhali (beetroot with walnut), and Chikhirtma (savory chicken soup).
I have been a fan of Soom Tahini for a while and was excited to come across their booth at MetroCooking DC. Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this company is certified women-owned and developed by three sisters as a way to bring delicious tahini to the United States. Along with their single sourced sesame tahini, they also make a chocolate sesame spread.
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.
Laconiko features 100 percent extra virgin olive oil from the company’s private olive estate in Laconia, Greece. Along with their pure olive oil, they also carry olive oil soap and a variety of infusions including garlic, lemon, blood orange, chipotle, lavender, rosemary, and lime. Click here to find a retail location that carries Laconiko near you or buy online.
Dress It Up Dressing was created by Sophia, previously a filmmaker turned stay at home mom, and is based in Bethesda, Maryland. The vinaigrette has a combination of olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and mustard is available in the following flavors: Apple Cider, Blackberry, Champagne, and Red Wine.
Island Bwoy was created in 2011 to bring the flavors of Jamaican Jerk to the DC area. Products include Jerk Pork Sausage, Kielbasa, Pork Chorizo, Ole English Breakfast Pork, Jerk Chicken Sausage, and Chicken Apple.
Ambrosiac Salep has brought authentic Turkish Salep (a drink made from ground tubers and seasonings) to the United States. Just add 2 tablespoons of their Salep mixture to 1 cup of milk for a warming and comforting drink.
Swarmbustin’ Honey is based in West Grove, Pennsylvania. Products include fresh bee pollen, raw and pure honey, comb honey, bees wax, royal jelly, honey vinegar, honey candy, and more.
I especially loved the unique flavors of jellies from Neat Nick Preserves. The Piña Colada, Mimosa, and Prosecco were my favorites. Other flavors include Figs & Honey, Caramelized Onion Marmalade, Blueberry Ginger, Mango Hot Pepper, Cabernet Sauvignon, Creamsicle, and Vanilla Bean Pear.
Pacari is a family-owned company specializing in organic chocolate from Ecuador. Items include chocolate bars, single region bars, raw chocolate, chocolate covered fruit, drinking cacao, fruit harvest bars, and more.
Herbaria is a German-based company that was founded in 1919 and originally manufactured medicinal herbs and teas. It now supplies a variety of gourmet organic seasonings.
The Velvet Chocolatier features European-inspired chocolates that are all-natural, kosher, and gluten-free. Products include Truffles, Chocolate Disks, Bark, Velvet Crunch, Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwiches, and other items.
Virginia’s Finest Pavilion
PastryBase, created by pastry chef Jill Donaldson, is based in Richmond, Virginia and features a line of Baking Box Kits with handmade baking mixes and natural decorations. There is even an option for custom orders to accommodate most dietary restrictions including vegan and gluten-free (though not a dedicated facility).
Obis One is in Blacksburg, Virginia and is the largest organic black garlic artisanal producer in North America. Along with black garlic bulbs, they also make seasonings, snacks, and other specialty items.
Jody’s Gourmet Popcorn is based in Virginia Beach. Their popcorn comes in an assortment of flavors including Cinnamon Toast, Chocolate Drizzle, Cheesy Jalapeño, Funfetti, Fireside, and Rich Maple.
Element [Shrub] is currently located in Arlington, Virginia. A shrub is a colonial way of preserving fruit with vinegar and sugar. Pair with sparkling water or use in cocktails for a light and refreshing drink. Shrub flavors include Blueberry Rosemary, Honeydew Jalapeño, Pineapple Mint, Chai Pear, and Cranberry Hibiscus. They also produce Shrub & Clubs, a sparkling, non-alcoholic apple cider vinegar “shrub soda.”
I first came across The Perfect Pita’s products at a nearby Virginia Whole Foods. Along with restaurants and a catering company (The Perfect Daughter), several retail outlets in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area carry their pita bread and hummus. I especially enjoyed the Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.
Cocoa Manna roasts their cocoa in small batches in Culpeper, Virginia. Products include brewing chocolate, candied cocoa beans, and other specialty items.
Willie Byrd began when owner Ann was given her father’s chocolate sauce recipe in 1994. She now produces the Original Dark Chocolate Sauce along with Espresso, Peppermint, and Sea Salt Caramel varieties with her daughters. Check out the store locator to see if Willie Byrd is available near you.
AR’s Hot Southern Honey, created by Ames Russell, features clover and wildflower honey along with a hot southern honey infused with red chili peppers.
Sahara Date Company, based in Vienna, VA, features dates directly from Saudi Arabia. Varieties include Ajwa, Khudry, Safawi, Saggae, and Sukkary.
MetroCooking DC 2018
Interested in attending MetroCooking DC? The dates for this year are December 1-2, 2018.