My favorite food event of the year is always the Fabulous Food Show, at the I-X Center. It shines a national spotlight on all that the Cleveland food scene has to offer, to 30,000 people over the course of a weekend. Vendors, purveyors, artisans, chefs, foodies, students and avid eaters gather for three days celebrating all things FOOD.
This year they offered new things like a Baking Pavilion, Cocktail School and Friday night fund raising event, Savor Cleveland, to raise money for No Kid Hungry. It was a fun evening attended by some of the celebrity chefs in town for this dynamic event. The floor was also peppered with samples, and special offers for everything from salsa, to knives, to artisan cheese. The neighborhood stage was a great showcase for local talent to demo techniques and recipes. And the main stage offered presentations and Q&A from celebrity chefs like Aaron Sanchez, Daphne Oz, Michael Symon, Damaris Phillips and Melissa D’Arabian.
Once again I was honored to participate on a main stage event. CLE Cooks for a Cause was expanded this year to include 8 teams of two, a local celeb and a local chef-going head to head in a “Chopped” style cooking competition. Each team selected a charity to compete for. The show itself donated $500 to each of our charities, plus donated the proceeds from reserved seating. I was playing for the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland.
It was a rematch. Chef Matt Mytro, of Flour, and I went back at it against Matt Fish, of Melt Bar & Grilled and Jeremiah Widmer of Q104 FM. We’d been ribbing each other for the better part of the year since the last time we cooked against each other at the Fabulous Food Show last year. But Mytro and I wanted to take the title away from Team Melt.
We were given beef as a protein and the chefs set about rapidly raiding the back stage pantry for something they could pull off in 30 minutes, and still impress judges like Damaris Phillips, and former White House Chef, Sam Morgante.
Chef Mytro conceived, executed and plated a beautiful sirloin steak with a celeriac puree and a punchy salad on top. He tasked me with making a perfect meatball, and braising it in some marinara. His bold flavors and my comfort zone worked in our favor. WE WON! The judges were very complimentary of Mytro’s flavors and my ability to get the meatballs done in such a quick amount of time. It felt good to win! (especially because Matt told me his partner threatened to take his chef’s coat away if he lost a second year in a row!)
To watch the entire competition from the perspective of the stage, click here for my Facebook Live broadcast.
I also scored, with some one on one interview time with three of the biggest celebrity chefs featured in the Fabulous Show. It’s always an honor and a blast to talk to Cleveland’s own Iron Chef, Michael Symon. Great to catch up with him about plans for Lolita, progress at Mabel’s and his yearly opportunity to show off the CLE culinary scene. To watch my entire one on one with Chef Michael Symon, click here for my Facebook Live broadcast.
Chef Symon brought in fellow cast member from The Chew, Daphne Oz. I loved visiting with her about tempting toddlers with healthy food, and her new cook book, The Happy Cook. She is stunning in person and remarkably relatable. To view my entire interview with Daphne Oz, click here for my Facebook live broadcast.
And one of the newest members of the Food Network family, Damaris Phillips was also in town. Phillips, of Southern at Heart, is as sweet as pecan pie and a ton of fun. She is a great resource for those trying to please a variety of dietary needs, especially come holiday times. She’s a southern meat-eatin’ gal who married a vegetarian! My entire interview with Damaris Phillips can be viewed here.
The Fabulous Food Show is my happy place (one of them) it combines the energy of the Cleveland food scene, with incredible talent, learning opportunities, cutting edge products, fan favorites and delicious food. Mark your calendar and get there next year!