Great American Food and Music Festival

When my friends hear about food, they think of me. So when Sam saw something about the Great American Food and Music Festival, she immediately sent me an email with the link with the short message “You need to go to this”. I couldn’t argue with that.

I was really excited to see the schedule of performers and the list of restaurants from across the country who would be participating. The festival showcased different restaurants that came from all over to Gillette Stadium and brought their signature dishes for attendees to try. There were also bands playing, and live cooking demos.

We were hooked up with VIP passes by a friend, which made us feel like rockstars. When we arrived, we weren’t actually sure what the VIP passes meant. There was no clear signage to let us know where things were, or any information that made the difference between the VIP passes and general ticketing clear. So, we just followed people around that looked like they knew where they were going.

First we went up to the Wine and Beer Grand Tasting (which was the only thing we saw signs for, so we followed). Overlooking the stadium, the clubhouse was lovely. Dane and I focused on the beer varieties, and tried different craft beers. There was not one I tasted that I didn’t like, which isn’t shocking.

We finally found someone who looked like she worked with the festival and was answering questions for another group, so we asked her about the VIP passes and what we should be using them for. She let us know there was a VIP room past the main stage where we could hang out, eat, and do the meet and greets. So that was the catch, the VIP passes allowed us in a room where someone would take our order from any of the participating vendors and bring it to us, without any extra cost. The general admission was only for entry to the festival, and did not cover the cost of food.

VIPs. That’s right.

So, to the VIP room we went. We passed Duff Goldman on stage talking, while his crew built a giant burger shaped cake on stage. When we got in, we were sad to hear that the Neely’s (of the Food Network) and Tom Colicchio (of Top Chef) would not be among the celebrities in attendance. But we still had Duff Goldman and the Charm City Cakes crew, and Paula Deen. I was content to sit, eat, drink, and wait for some meet and greets.

the original schedule. didn’t work out so well.

We started ordering up everything that sounded good on the menu and enjoyed some Sam Summer while we waited for Duff to come in for his meet and greet.

one of everything. please and thank you.

We enjoyed ribs from Hell’s Kitchen in Minneapolis, churros from Goldie’s Churros in L.A., a steak sandwich from Jim’s Cheesesteaks in Philly, the caprese sandwich from the All Star Sandwich Bar in Cambridge, and shrimp from Harding Lee Smith. Thankfully we were with a group of people who helped us eat everything.

I have to say, my favorite part of this day was everyone we met in the VIP room. We ended up chatting with other couple’s and others sitting near us, and we met some really awesome people. First up, while I was standing and ordering a drink, Billy Costa walked by. Billy is on the Matty in the Morning show on Kiss 108, which I listen to every single morning and it gets me through my commute (and also does a TV show called TV Diner). All I wanted to do was say hi, but I’m lame and was too embarrassed. But Dane definitely wasn’t, so he went over with me and said “Hey Billy, its really great to meet you. My wife really wanted to say hi.” Billy was very nice and shook both our hands while I said “You’re a big part of my mornings”. Seriously. I said that. He offered to take a picture then I went on my way, pretty convinced that he must think I’m nuts.

thanks for getting me through every morning Billy.

Then in came Duff for his meet and greet. Both him and Geof signed my VIP pass.

why yes, that is a bruins jersey with a food network patch on the side. thanks for asking.

We got to chatting with another couple, and it turns out the wife writes a food blog too. They were originally from California, so we had a great time talking about things out here in Boston they should try. Shout out to Bite Me New England!

Possibly the highlight was meeting Mitch. We started talking with him, when I noticed his chef’s jacket that said Hell’s Kitchen. I immediately thought of a cool restaurant we had passed while I was in Minneapolis visiting. It was packed when we passed it, and told Sam and Jason that next time I come out we are definitely going to eat there. Same Hell’s Kitchen and we got to talking. Turns out Mitch is a chef there, and he was also doing book signings at the festival. He told me to tell Sam and Jason to come see him at Hell’s Kitchen, which of course I did.

Mitch, Chef at Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis

We continued to eat and drink while we waited for the last meet and greet: Paula Deen. She came in as bubbly and southern as she is on TV, along with her husband. She signed my VIP pass, and I asked Michael if he would too, which he graciously did. Paula was just lovely.

next up for Paula and I: girls' night out with some cocktails

I have to say, we had a good time at the festival, but I really don’t think I would have had nearly as much fun without the VIP pass. With the cancellations from the scheduled guests, the cost of the general admission plus the cost of food, and the lack of organization, the festival could use some work. I had no complaints while I sat and had free food and drinks, met some food celebrities, and talked with awesome people, but I did hear many people complaining on our way out. I guess when you do these things for the first time, you learn.

Overall, a lovely day with Dane and some friends. Cheers!

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