This past weekend, celebrity chefs descended upon DC like Presidential hopefuls on the mid-West for the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show. This year’s famous notables included Iron Chef Michael Symon, Top Chef notables Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio, DC-local Carla Hall, and the queen of Italian Giada DeLaurentiis. But it wasn’t just the celebrities that brought the crowds, some of DC’s hottest restaurants took the shackles off their coveted chefs. Some of the culinary talent included: Wolfgang Puck’s The Source Executive Chef Scott Drewno, Ripple’s Executive Chef Logan Cox and Pastry Chef Alison Reed, Bar Pilar‘s Executive Chef and native Marylander Justin Bittner, and head of Sticky Fingers Bakery Doron Petersan.
Arriving on Monday and making my way through the hoards of people in the main vendor area, I found my way to the “celebrity theater” about 15 minutes into Giada’s presentation. I found my seat (being saved by the fabulous editor of FamousDC), and tried to catch up. Full confession, Giada is one of my favorites. I went to college where her father’s DeLaurentiis film studio still stands (and brought such classics as Dawson’s Creek), and my mother’s side is actually Italian. I think it’s great that she is teaching people how to make easy Italian at home, and I love watching her on TV (I mean, who doesn’t right). However, live and on stage, it was certainly a bit “showy,” very geared toward making people feel involved, I wasn’t even sure what the people on stage were cooking (toasted bread and tomatoes where involved), and there were tons of people lined up to ask her questions. That being said, she was every bit as gorgeous as she looks on television, she answered questions, engaged the crowd, charmed little kids, signed some books, and produced a cooking demo, all with a smile and degree of professionalism only a seasoned pro has. I was impressed with her (I just wanted more culinary meat on the bones). Even more impressed as I know from various Twitter accounts she was at the 14th Street hot-spot Estadio with Tom and Gail for a very late dinner.
Leaving Giada’s presentation, the smells of meat coming into contact with a hot surface flooded the area. We made our way through the vendor halls and found Logan’s Sausage stand. These are locally made (Virginia) sausages that come in a wide variety of blends and can be found at most stores in the DC area. Alas, the line was too long and we had minutes before the next presentation we wanted to see. Next time Logan’s, next time indeed.
Continuing through knifes that can cut through a 1987 Honda, and candles that smelled like bacon frosting or something, we saw a giant cartoon sign of a very buxom ginger cowgirl proclaiming “Muddy Mary’s Bloody Mary Mud.” I like bloody Mary’s. I like mud. I also like my soul, so I approached the red-haired maiden with caution.
This “mud” is really just a pre-made base for bloody mary’s which includes natural horseradish, lemon and limes juices, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, celery salt, and other spices. You mix this with your favorite tomato juice (or just use my recipe here), add booze and there you have it. I don’t trust mixes or pre-made things of this nature, but I have to admit, it wasn’t bad. A bit sweet with regular tomato juice, I presume better with Clamato. All in all, this would make a great gift for a friend, or something to just keep around the bar to avoid searching for the 86 things you need to make your own all the time.
Vendors aside, we made our way to the cooking demo stage to see Executive Chef Scott Drewno make something tasty. Chef Scott runs Wolfgang Puck’s wildly delicious, Asian-fusion restaurant The Source here in DC. This place has great food; personally, the best duck outside of my own kitchen. Chef Scott is funny, lively, very personable, and tall. I mean, he looks like a dude you don’t want to cross. He can stay on his side of the counter, with all of the knifes. I’ll listen quietly.
Chef Scott is cooking chili dan dan noodles with roast pork. Lots of ingredients, tons of flavor, not too hard to make. You can all head over to FamousDC and thank their Editor for finding the recipe – and read Feasting Famously while there. Back to the pork. It looks good, and smelled great, and yes, yes we got samples. It was spicy, but not hot, more numbing. He explained why, but I was distracted by roast pork in the oven. Sorry Chef Scott, maybe I’ll just have to come in and get some myself.
All in all, a great way to spend a Saturday if you’re into food. If not, a great way to get into food. Keep this in mind for the calendar next year. The staff at the event where great, and the convention center in DC is not too far from some great places to eat and drink off 14th Street NW.
Where: MetroCooking DC, an annual convention and trade show in DC. Website.