Wake Up Call

Phoenix Needs to Step Up Its Food Festival Game

Food festivals have been a point of contention here at Chow Bella and among our treasured readers. Our resident food critic even put the question of their worth to local chefs, and though the response was generally positive, there were some notable dissenters.

Let me suggest that's because we don't have food festivals such as The Great GoogaMooga in Brooklyn. Some of you have bemoaned comparing Phoenix to other cities and that's fine . . . if you're totally satisfied with mediocrity. I challenge you to read this bitingly hilarious battlefield-dispatch by BaoHaus' Eddie Huang in The New York Observer and not want a part of that intensity. Then check out this GoogaMooga promo video for BaoHaus because, damn, Huang makes a tasty-looking bun:

Granted, it sounds like it took two days for organizers and restaurants to get it right. Here are the things that jump out at us:

1. General admission for the event was free. No matter how long the lines get, they're always worse if you paid money for the privilege of standing in them. 2. They offered a $249 "Extra Mooga" VIP ticket ($260 after fees). The benefits of the ticket (cooking demonstrations from famous local chefs, private food lines, big beer, etc) sounded nice but apparently it was something of a "shitshow". Especially on the first day. 3. Organizers almost immediately offered a complete refund and an apology for anyone who put up the money for the Extra Mooga tickets. Given that they want to grow this into a recurring event, a virtual culinary Woodstock, this seems like a prudent way to keep the pitchforks at bay.

The key lessons here is that the public isn't wrong for demanding excellence for their money and sweat and that dedicated organizers and chefs can and should make it happen.

Also: Big Gay Ice Cream

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Ando Muneno
Contact: Ando Muneno