Okanagan Eats Industry Night Review – Megan Shallow
I am a huge foodie … but it’s not really about the food that makes me such a fangirl. I love restaurants because I get so excited to support the amazing and talented local chefs here in Kelowna. I am always so curious about what goes on “Behind the Scenes” in Kelowna and I find a lot of value in being able to put a face to the food that I enjoy every time I go out to eat! This is the reason I decided to attend Okanagan Eats Food Show’s Industry night.
Okanagan Eats Food Show hosted their first Industry night on Thursday, May 4th 2017 before the big event that ran on Friday and Saturday. The Industry Night was a relaxed evening full of delicious taste testers, local wine networking and a lot of laughter. Two chefs from the event got up on stage and had a cooking competition and I felt as if I was an audience member in The Iron Chef. Up on stage was Chef Derrick Fox, the runner-up of Master Chef USA Season 6 and Chef Thompson Tran, the founder of The Wooden Boat Food Company. They were both extremely knowledgeable, inspiring and very entertaining to say the least.
Throughout the night, I learned so much about what the local food entrepreneurs are doing in the Okanagan and I met so many awesome people that I would have never crossed paths with otherwise. We have such awesome businesses in our local community and it’s definitely important to jump on these opportunities to meet, support and create those connections. Regardless of your occupation, these events are for everyone! You really never know who you are going to meet unless you get out and just talk!
Okanagan Eats Friday Night Review – Kristi Clarke
It’s no secret that I LOVE food. So naturally I was pretty happy (alright damn near ecstatic) to hear about the first annual Okanagan Eats show debut. I got excited thinking about dressing up and rubbing shoulders with other Kelowna foodies for a night out with the finest chefs of the Okanagan, tasting a variety of new and delicious recipes and learning new cooking tips from experts. And all in all, I found this event to have great potential for Kelowna.
What we loved:
For a first time show in Kelowna, I have to give it some props. It’s hard to organize an event that size with vendors, presenters, tickets and workers and they did a great job making sure that all worked seamlessly.
As far as the price, I was relived to find it was quite affordable at $12/ticket and 75 cents a ticket. There’s nothing that kills an impression of an event like feeling ripped off and it’s nice that the price point was something that allowed everyone to come out and experience the show.
I liked that this event wasn’t alcohol heavy. There was some samples of cider, beer and wine in the back but it didn’t encourage drunken partying like some other boozed based events in Kelowna, just some tasteful pairing. For the vast number of breweries, cideries and wineries in our area, the selection was smaller, but it was certainly nice it was there to enhance the flavors.
I loved all the cooking demonstrations from the chefs. This was a unique idea and something that hasn’t really been done in Kelowna before. With all our locally made food and drink, people here love to experiment with food and this was great food for inspiration!
The vendors came out to impress, showcasing generous samples of new products I was happy to hear about. Some of the places I’ll be keeping on the radar this summer are Okanagan Ice Pops, who gave away free fruit bars made of all natural sweetness, QB Gelato Inc., serving up artisan style gelato and Burnt Crème, dishing out hand crafted, delightfully flavored crème brulè. Mmmmm
What we might like to see for next years show:
I always think this about events in the curling club: “Can we please do something about the lighting?” Blinding fluorescents certainly don’t say ‘gourmet food’ and it’s near impossible to take a good photo of yourself or anything else. We love food and we love an excuse to dress up and go out, but how will we remember the evening fondly if we can’t manage to take a good picture of ourselves or the yummy food we tasted?
This event had an overall feel of a conference, or a trade show…with food. When I attend conferences, there is the speaker segment during the day sprinkled with trade show vendors and later in the evening there’s a party. I would have enjoyed a bit more segregation with demonstrations and products during the day and dimmed lighting, live music and food samples in the evening, making it feel more like a night out.
The food that was there was good, some was even amazing. My only minor complaint would be the food presenters didn’t seem super into it. Soy, a restaurant I would count in my top 5 favorites, served a dish that didn’t even come close to showing what they can really do. La Bussola Restaurant didn’t show up on Friday until 6pm and ran out of tiramisu the night before, so they were serving ice cream. Two restaurants accepting tickets were serving meatballs, they were good, inspired even, but I was hoping for a bit more variety. I know there is amazing food in Kelowna, but so many great restaurants didn’t bother to come out and represent. Where was Krafty, Micro, Salted Brick, BNA, Antico Pizza Napoletana? What about some of the great winery restaurants or local bakeries we have in town? Maybe offering a prize, trophy or even bragging rights would have generated a bit more excitement and even more interest in participating in the event.
Overall, I think this is exactly the kind of event we should be encouraging in the Okanagan. We live in a place with no shortage of talented wine makers, renowned chefs and local growers, let’s reward and celebrate them! Let’s show everyone what our little piece of the world can do!
I can’t wait to see how this event develops next year.