UPDATE: Check out my segment on this week's episode of the Jawn Appetit podcast for a preview of the Embassy Chef Challenge! And be sure to tune in every week to catch my friends Roy and Chanell dishing on all the foodie news in the City of Brotherly Love ... and beyond!
The 11th annual Events DC Embassy Chef Challenge, the largest international food festival in DC, is coming to the Ronald Reagan International Building on April 2.
People tend to think "unlimited buffet" when they hear the words "food festival." If you've never been to a food festival, it's important to prepare yourself before diving into the gluttonous, glorious adventure that they can be. I attended the Chef Challenge last year where I learned the hard way that your eyes are definitely bigger than your stomach.
So read on as I reveal 8 food festival truths to help you navigate the bottomless bites to come!
And be sure to get your tickets before they sell out! Use promo code CURIOUS for $10 off VIP and General Admission tickets.
Rule #1: Plan your strategy
Instead of heading to the first stall you see, arrive early and act like a criminal in an Ocean's movie sequel. Case the joint first and figure out what you really want to eat and drink, and get a game plan. Because as hungry as you may be when you get there, there's only so much you can eat. Really. Which tables have the best sounding dishes? Are any offering food and beverage, or something else extra? Are there places on your travel wish list? Check out their food as a sneak peak of what to expect.
Rule #2: Wear Comfortable Shoes
Many of the events are large-scale, walk-around tastings with chef-appointed tables lining the perimeter of the venue. You'll generally be walking and standing for the duration of the event, and waiting in a long line at each table to taste the chefs' offerings. But experiencing the best of the best food from around the world is worth it.
Rule #3: . . . And an Elastic Waistband ...
The food, which is plentiful and rich, is served on small plates in tasting-size portions. So while you might not feel like you’ve had a proper meal, noshing on small bites, you’ll end up eating a lot more than you’ve realized. So pick and choose what you eat — and what you finish (if you don't love it, don't) — accordingly.
Rule #4: Be adventurous
You may find yourself faced with foie or tackling with the decision to try some tongue, so skip the brie and brioche (which you can get anywhere these days!) and go for the awesome-looking octopus dish instead.. This is the best time to experiment, since you’re tasting only one small bite, at no extra cost to you.
Rule #5: One bite and go
This event, like many other food festivals, have thirty or more tables vying for your attention. If you ate every portion doled out, you’d have a wicked case of the --itis before you were even halfway through. Eat just enough to sample the dish and move on. As Ariana Grande says, “Thank you, next.”
Rule #6: Have one alcoholic drink, not five
The more you drink, the slower you get. That’s a fact. You don’t have to go all teetotaler here, but if you limit the amount of drinking you do, you'll leave room for more food. Don’t miss out on great dishes because you drank yourself to malaise. By cutting down on the alcohol, you’re also cutting down on bathroom breaks and that’s going to make you a Food Festival Ninja.
Rule #7: Do NOT throw out your fork
Every booth hands out utensils for their respective dishes, but they aren't necessarily practical or reusable for more than a couple of extra bites. Once you get your hands on a nice, sturdy fork you should hold onto it for dear life. Keep it in your pocket, attach it to a necklace, stick it behind your ear— it doesn’t matter how you keep it close, just do it. There’s nothing worse than trying to scrounge up a new fork at a festival when there are none to be found.
Rule #8: Relish the moment
The Embassy Chef Challenge is about more than just the food. While the food is indeed delicious, the event also provides a unique opportunity to learn more about the people and culture from around the world, too. Take time to talk to the chefs and embassy staff at each table and ask them about their countries, and pick-up copies of any handouts to take with you and learn more. We're particularly lucky here in DC that we can visit the various embassies and many of them hold public events throughout the year. Plus, the city is the culinary capital for international cuisine with 100s of restaurants to visit if you sample something that particularly whets your appetite.
If you follow these 8 simple rules, you'll be in good shape to enjoy the Embassy Chef Challenge without ending up with a wicked case of the Itis.
Hungry for food, drinks, culture and entertainment?
Get your tickets for this year's event before it sells out!
Use promo code CURIOUS to get $10 off VIP and general admission tickets.
If you're going to the Events DC Embassy Chef Challenge, tag Curious Caravan and Jawn Appetit in all your Instagrammable photos using #CuriousCaravan and #JawnAppetit. See you there!
Look up, down, and all around. Adventures can be found everywhere -- if you're curious enough to look. k for it