The 1st Annual Lethbridge Food Show: the food wars arena
Well, that was good.
The first Lethbridge Food Show was not the first of its kind in Lethbridge--in fact, the field is getting a little crowded. 5th on 5th has been running a Taste of Lethbridge as a fund-raiser for several years, and it has been a huge success--it runs in April. More recently, the Galt Museum has been running A Taste of Downtown, which also runs in May. It was sufficiently successful that it sold out before I could get tickets. So hoping that this new commercial version doesn't compete to the point where it hurts either of those charities, but there's probably room for this one too. But maybe a little coordination to spread themselves out across the calendar wouldn't hurt.
This one was reasonably well organized, and had a number of added features that appeal.
First, the venue allowed for actual food trucks to participate, in addition to the usual spread of tables. Nice to know Lethbridge has some food trucks these days!
Second, the food was really good. That's kind of important. We spent $60 for the two of us which is roughly what a good meal costs, and we feel we got our money's worth sampling this and that till stuffed. What I like about sampling is the opportunity to discover new places in town. Who knew that there was an excellent chef (Chef Express) renting the kitchen at the Legion? I loved his butter chicken fusion dish--butter chicken adapted, he said, for white guys. (*Laughs*) But I have to confess I am less interested in authentic than in yummy, and his butter chicken was creamy goodness! The chocolate coated bacon also dangerously good, though obviously a gimmick. Other food highlight: deep fried pumpkin pie. Seriously amazing. But a number of really good resturants were featured, though I didn't bother sampling those from places we eat regularly. I could see the food show growing much larger, given the success of this initial outing, and can think of several places that weren't represented that might well do well (like our Korean place) were they to participate. So lots of room for growth there, but already worth the price of admission.
Third, having a big name guest Chef -- in this instance, David Adjey-- was kind of cool idea. Comes across a little different in person, so that was interesting.
Fourth, Lethbridge Chef Wars was good idea, though implementation needs to be refined a bit. The idea of doing a live, local version of Chopped TV show has definite potential, and the set up was excellent - photo shows the large arena space dedicated to it, with three quite generous cooking stations laid out, judges table, and etc., and a camera guy running from table to table, projecting cooks and their dishes up on two giant screens. That was handled quite well. The tiny problems were the sound system was echo-y so that it was often difficult to make out what the judges were saying, and there were very long periods were contestants were cooking without any commentary...TV generates excitement by having a host narrating the battle, constantly commenting on chef's choices, progress and techniques, etc., so long silent stretches sapped a lot of the energy out of the thing. Not sure if that was inexperience on part of MC/host, or whether they'd given up on the sound system. Minor fixes, though, so we'll see what happens next time.
Fifth, looked like a good size beer garden, but being a non-drinker I didn't check out the displays there.
Sixth, child-friendly! Kids under 12 free admission, so that allows for some families to get out, parents to participate, that might not otherwise be able to get to the 'Taste of' events. Ice sculpting events and food likely to appeal to kids too.
Overall, I'm a satisfied customer, saying congratulations to the chef from the Italian Canadian Club who organized it all, and hope it really does become an annual event.