Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bite of Seattle 2012

As usual, the Bite of Seattle was a tasty, tasty blast!  The Bite of Seattle is always my favorite festival of the year.  There are plenty of food vendors to choose from, there's a comedy stage, and they even have cooking demonstrations! 

My favorite part of the event is always the Alley.  It's a program hosted by Tom Douglas, and it benefits Food Lifeline.  For $10, you get a plate with one featured sample from 7 local resterauteurs.  They do vary the menu day by day, and they had 15 total restaurants participating this year.  We always make sure to stop by Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  96% of the proceeds go straight to the mouths of those who need it the most here in Western Washington.  Last year, funds raised by The Alley allowed Food Lifeline to provide nearly 86,000 nutritious meals to hungry people.  That's a huge benefit!  This really is a great cause, so I strongly encourage everyone to participate again next year and beyond.  Beyond that, it's a tasty, tasty charitable event, and it's a great way to try out 7 local restaurants in one sitting!  If find yourself at the Bite of Seattle and can't figure out what to pick for lunch or dinner, keep it simple and just go with the Alley!  There are always clear "winners" (and sometimes "losers") on the plate, so you'll be able to find out which restaurants you want to visit later on.

The Bite Cooks (sponsored by Viking) was wonderful too.  Oh, how I want one of those stoves!  She will be mine.  Oh yes, she will be mine...  As usual, Thierry Rautureau did a fantastic job as the emcee.  If you want to learn more about cooking, this is a great opportunity to learn some tips in the kitchen.  Thierry and some of the local chefs provided some excellent cooking tips (including some I covered in my video).  This is also a great opportunity to get out and meet some of your talented local executive chefs, sommeliers, and mixologists.  They also do audience give-aways if you pay attention and answer some questions at the end, and we made off with a nice little bonus!

Speaking of Thierry, don't forget to watch Thierry on the Top Chef Masters, Wednesday night, July 25th (tomorrow!) on Bravo.  Good luck, Thierry!  We're rooting for you!  Thierry is a simply amazing chef!  This is going to sound like a very "mom" thing to say, but he's already a winner in my eyes!  We would go to the viewing party at Luc tomorrow night, but it would be very late for us.  Of course, Thierry already knows the outcome, but he's under contract to not tell anyone who won. 

I was kind of surprised to find out they didn't have a camera crew filming the Bite Cooks event this year, so I'm significantly less bummed about losing the competition :)  But hey, budget cuts happen!  Fortunately Festivals Inc gave all of the contestants $50 in Bite Bucks due to their flawed voting system.  Hopefully they will fix the voting system next year.  Even though I truly don't care about the money, I don't think I'll bother with it again next year since the payout just isn't worth the effort.  But who knows, maybe one of these days I will start including video demos here on my blog.  Instructional video blogging is a lot of work - especially when you don't have a camera crew!  I did get a chance to meet Bonnie, one of my fellow contestants, and she was super sweet!  She would have been a great presenter too!  Oh, and yes, I did make my video private.  If you ever want to see it, you will need to send me a private message or put a comment on this page. 

A few of the featured chefs at the Bite Cooks have items featured on the foodie 100 list!  The Stumbling Goat has the Anderson Valley lamb T-bone on the Foodie 100 list.  We spoke to the executive chef, Joshua Theilen, at Stumbling Goat about this dish since we haven't had the opportunity to try it just yet.  We found out they are sourcing their lamb T-bones from a different place than Anderson Valley.  Obviously it's still a lamb T-bone, so it still counts!  We will have to go check them out sometime this week.  Incidentally, Joshua won the Bite Cooks Cook-off competition on Saturday, and he won $200 for his favorite charity.  Congrats, Joshua! 

Thanks to the Bite Cooks, I also found out about a wonderful winery called Sozo.  Sozo is a winery that helps provide anywhere from 1-25 meals (per bottle) for orphans, widows and homeless who lack basic needs.  The name "Sozo" is a greek word that means "to save."  Each bottle has a number on the front part of the label, and that number tells you how many people will be fed with your purchase.  That's right, you can drink wine *and* save lives, people!  I'll totally toast to that!  I know what you're thinking: "A charity wine?  It probably tastes like swill!"  You're dead wrong.  They had some wine to sample at the wine garden, and I tried a bottle of the Pinot Noir.  That was a fantastic Pinot Noir!  Their goal is to sell only quality wines while saving lifes, and they have a very talented and well-renowned vintner working for them.  When they go to restaurants to sell their wines, they don't even lead with the "This wine saves lives" bit.   They have the sommeliers and restaurant owners try the wines, and then they tell them what they're all about.  The only downside is that you can't just go out to a grocery store and buy their wine.  You can find it on their website (link above) and at some local restaurants.  They also had some bottles for sale at the wine garden, so I picked up a bottle.  That's right, I saved 10 lives by adding a bottle to my wine fridge.  Everyone's happy!  If you want some great quality wines with an even better excuse to drink - check them out!

I couldn't help but notice there were significantly less vendors this year than there were last year.  Out of sheer curiosity, I looked up the booth prices.

$350 for a Hand-crafted or specialty food product booth (not too bad)
$1700 + 16% of sales for a 10x10 Restaurant Booth (16%?  ouch!)
$2975 + 16% of sales for a 20x10 Restaurant Booth (dang!)
$3175 + 16% of sales for a 20x20 Restaurant Booth (double dang!)

I get that the festival doesn't charge admission, so they have to make their money somewhere.  I was really astonished to find out how much they charge the food vendors!  Wow.  So get out there and support your local food vendors!

The Comedy Stage also had a few talented comedians ... and they had a few "eh" comedians in my opinion (but hey, I'll be nice and won't name names!).  Kermit Apio was a hoot!  With a little bit of self-deprecating humor combined with some very important life lessons for the gentlement out there, he had a great routine!  You should definitely check him out if he ever tours through your area.

All in all, it really was a great festival!  If you didn't get to check it out this year, you missed out!  There's always next year!  It will probably be July 19-21 2013, so mark your calendars!


  1. Jesus, that's pretty horrible for the vendor prices ... they really turn the screws on the people selling. Is the foodie community in Seattle so rich that they can get away with it?

  2. I don't think the foodie community is that rich, but it is a HUGE festival with a lot of foot traffic.

    I almost forgot about the other part of the pricing issue. They only allow one $8 food item (applicable to the food vendors, not the specialty food product booths), and everything else has to be $7 and below. Apparently people were complaining about prices being too high, so they regulate the prices. Of course this just means that the vendors have to serve smaller portion sizes.

    Additionally, they require one food item to be significantly healthier than the other offerings (which is certainly a nicety for the health conscious crowd). That is subject to approval of course.

    Oh, and there's a 3% processing fee. But heeeeey, you get $100 off if you pay early!