Last last weekend was the first ever Chipotle Cultivate Festival. It was held at Lake Carolyn in Irving on Saturday, October 18. And the best part? Admission is free!
I first found out about this festival when I went to pick up some dinner at Chipotle. They had a poster up. Food festival? Free? And FOOD?!? I'm soooo there! I immediate looked it up online and sent the info to all my friends to let them know about it. I also told my fiance we were not to schedule anything else for that day! haha.
Other than the reasons I've already presented... I was super excited because there were also chef cooking demos and the line-up was fantastic.
First up was Chef Paul Qui from Austin. I love this guy. I first cheered for him on Top Chef Texas, which he won. Woot! Then I was lucky enough to dine at his restaurant (Qui) over Christmas last year and got to meet him!! Can you tell I'm a fan?? haha. And he is just the nicest guy ever. He made Filipino Squid Adobo.
I haven't had much Filipino food in my lifetime but I'd really love to try. But I do love baby squid, my mom used to cook it a lot when I was young. It looked so good. I wish it was one of those demos where the audience could sample the finished product... Oh well. After the demo, people lined up to take pictures with him. Of course I was there! I got my picture. And better yet, he signed my CHOMP! shirt. *Squeal* Oh and did I mention that my fiance was actually wearing the shirt? hehehe. I know I got a good one when he lets other dudes sign his chest. :P So the day started off really well. I was super psyched to check out the rest of the festival.
After the demo, we walked around for a bit. They had several areas set up with different exhibits and demos. You can learn about fresh vs. processed foods, GMO (genetically modified organisms), how livestock is raised in factories vs. those that are responsibly raised and more. The festival was created by Chipotle to celebrate food that is "responsibly raised, skillfully prepared and delightfully enjoyed." It's such an awesome way to spread awareness for better processes and ingredients for food.
I was hungry so we went to find some lunch. There wasn't that many options for food, but they all sounded really yummy.
ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen (a new concept of Chipotle)
Meatball Bowl (Jasmine rice, green curry, green papaya slaw, herb salad, charred green beans with chili jam & crispy garlic) $6~
My fiance got this. I wanted to try it too. I absolutely loved it. The meatballs were super tender, and that green curry was delicious. It had a spicy kick to it too. The papaya slaw on top added a crunch and freshness to it. It was the best dish of the day, in my opinion. It was a little too spicy for him though, he ended up liking my kale salad more. Seriously though, we totally need a ShopHouse in Dallas (currently there's only 2 or 3 states in the US that has it)!!
Kale Salad (Baby kale, roasted corn-escabeche, crumbled cotija, crispy tortillas, and chipotle-honey vinaigrette; Choice to add grilled steak) $7~
I'm loving the whole kale craze because I think it's a great vegetable and so good for you too. It was a little salty... I think they were a little heavy handed with the cotija. I do like the steak addition, it had a lot of flavor. Overall it was good, lots of textures and flavors. But the meatball bowl was better.
Sofritas® Tacos (Sofritas® organic tofu, in soft corn tortillas with fresh tomato salsa, Romaine lettuce and shredded cheese) 2 for $6~
A friend of mine got this. I have to say, it looked a bit sad. Other than the lettuce and hot sauce, I didn't see anything else. I tried a bite. The tofu was cut into little teeny tiny pieces and I really couldn't get much of it at all. I wonder if their chicken taco was better...
Next, we moved on to the Artisan's Hall. There were many local vendors showcasing and selling their products. More food! Yay! hehe. A lot of the products looked yummy, but I had to choose one... I was already a little full.
Texas Honeybee Guild
Whipped Honey (cinnamon) $9~ I've never even heard of whipped honey but it sounds cool! My fiance said he's had them before and it's awesome. So he got a jar of the cinnamon one. I tried it when we got home and it's pretty tasty. And I'm not even a huge fan of honey!
Pop Star Handcrafted Popsicles
Cucumber Lemon Mint $3~ He also got a popsicle. Personally I would've opted for the strawberry lemonade flavor but I had my eyes set on a different vendor. The cucumber popsicle definitely tasted like its listed ingredients. It wasn't too sweet and was very refreshing. He really liked it. That combo isn't for me...
Chocolate Pie Slice (topped with whipped cream) $5~ I got a slice of pie. It looks so ooey gooey, I just had to try it. Yummers! The filling was dense and gooey. A bit too sweet for my friends but I liked it. I wish I had some ice cream or milk though. The bottom of the pie had kind of caramelized so it was even sweeter during a few bites. It's definitely very decadent. Thumbs up.
They also featured several other businesses that have partnered up with Chipotle for the event. One of them was Tabasco! Holla. Shout out to one of my favorite hot sauces. And I'm traditional, just the original flavor for me thanks. All the mini sample bottles were so cute!
Then it was time for the next chef demo I was waiting for... Matt McCallister of FT33. The hottest restaurant in Dallas right now I'd say. And I agree, I think it's probably the best restaurant in town.
I was lucky enough to go to a special event there with my friend and got to eat a 3 course meal prepared by the chef. I ate lamb! I never eat lamb because I don't like the flavor, but his dish, I cleaned it. That's a VERY big deal. We got to the tent after it had already started so I wasn't sure what he was preparing. It was a porridge of some sort? But using different grains/oats that I wasn't as familiar with. He showcased his knowledge on a variety of ingredients. And the final product looked delicious. I also got a picture with him and he also signed the CHOMP! shirt! :) Wheeeeee!
After the demo, we hit up Ben & Jerry's. Another partner business and one of my all time favorite ice cream brands. They were giving out free samples! Chocolate Fudge Brownie.
It was soooo chocolatey and decadent. I pretty much love all their flavors and their creative names. I would LOVEEEE to work for Ben & Jerry's some day. :P
The next chef demo we watched was Chef Kent Rathbun, a big name in the culinary world (especially Dallas). Most of you have probably heard of his restaurants Abacus and/or Jasper's.
He also owned Rathbun's Blue Plate Kitchen which was my favorite restaurant in Dallas for the past many years. I found out this year that it closed down. :( I was devastated... He was demoing chili, but not your typical ground beef stuff, this was giant chunks of choice steak. When the breeze came through, you can smell the aroma. OMG! Salivating! We can definitely tell that he's more seasoned in doing demos because he seemed very comfortable on the stage and talking to the audience. Afterwards, I got to ask him about Blue Plate Kitchen and he told me to "stay tuned", things are in the works. That cheered me up some. I can't wait to see what he's going to do next.
It was a great day. The festival was going on til 7PM but we left around 3:45PM. Amanda Freitag was going on next, but we missed her... She's frequently featured on Food Network's Chopped as a judge and also competed on the Next Iron Chef. I wish I could've met her. I love all those shows.
I would say the festival went very well. It was well organized, all the people/volunteers were very friendly. They featured great food, information, demos, and oh yea, live music! There were multiple bands playing on the stage throughout the day. So a little bit of everything for everyone. :) I definitely look forward to next year's event. I would love to see them add more to the chef's demo list and also more vendors in the Artisan's Hall!
~~ CHOMP CHOMP ~~