The Nosh Pit: Region has big appetite for food-specific weeks
07/13/2014 12:00 AM
07/10/2014 4:00 PM
Here’s a call for someone to organize Sacramento Master Cleanse Week.
Just about every month on Sacramento’s calendar features some kind of gut-busting food week, starting in January with the annual Dine Downtown Restaurant Week. Then we get hit in following months with multiday celebrations of bacon (late January), beer (Feburary), and now Negroni Week in June.
Sacramento’s certainly flush with these sorts of food weeks, but does the city have enough collective appetite to support all of them?
The list of local food weeks continues to unfurl. Sacramento BLT Week kicked off July 8 and ends today, and before you get much chance to rest that belly, the debut of Sacratomato Week runs from July 21 to July 27 with an onslaught of tomato dishes at local restaurants.
August has two more food-themed weeks on tap: Davis Beer Week, Aug. 11- 17, and another event that’ll put local livers to the test, the mighty Midtown Cocktail Week, which runs Aug. 19- 24.
A new event was recently announced for October that’ll provide a mighty caffeine fix for the city. Specialty Coffee Week is set for Oct. 13-19 at a variety of cafes around town.
And let’s not forget the second installment of Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Restaurant Week from Sept. 13-28, which is closer to two weeks in length, or the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, which showcases vegan eats at local restaurants for two weeks each October.
All said, that’s 11 food weeks we’re talking here. And that’s not including the Sacramento Food & Film Festival, which runs for 10 days in March. ... Or EatSMART, a September-long benefit at local restaurants where proceeds go toward the fight against childhood obesity. ... Or, “Summer of Riesling Sacramento,” which celebrates the beloved white wine at various local restaurants through September.
Andrew Calisterio, the Sacramento bartender featured recently in Nosh Pit after finding a worm in his cod, has noticed the glut of Sacramento food celebrations. Said Calisterio on his Facebook page: “I'm going to start a local festival festival where I set up booths representing a small piece of all of the festivals in Sacramento. #festfest2014“
Now the question becomes if Sacramento has hit its saturation point for food weeks and festivals, or might be headed that way. Perhaps Sacramento is becoming more like, say, Portland. The Northwest city that’s a favorite of Sacramento food adventurists boasts myriad festivals, including Feast Portland, the Oregon Brewers Festival, Portland Dining Month, Portland Beer Week and the Portland Fermentation Festival.
Emily Baime, executive director of the Midtown Business Association, says we’re not even close to food week oversaturation in Sacramento. Just mentioning the notion made her sound slightly miffed.
“I think we’re reaching a grown-up cityhood of having an eclectic dining scene with different parts and pieces,” said Baime. “I’m not here to divide the pie. I’m here to expand it, and our job is to bring more business.”
The truth is many of these multiday food festivals continue to provide significant business spikes to participating restaurants. “Kevin Bacon Tribute Night” at Old Ironsides during 2013’s Bacon Fest Sacramento resulted in the nightclub’s highest paid attendance ever. That same Bacon Fest year, Shady Lady Saloon logged its busiest-ever brunch, and Pangaea set a single-day business record.
Some of the crowds are growing. Capitol Beer Fest, a signature event of Sacramento Beer Week with more than 100 craft breweries pouring their suds, was attended by 4,000 in March. That’s compared to 3,000 beer lovers who attended the event in 2013.
Dan Scott, executive director of Sacramento Beer Week, doesn’t worry about the influx of festivals cutting into attendance.
“I think the more the merrier,” said Scott. “They’re excuses for people to get out and celebrate. If we do get oversaturated, that’ll be evidenced in the events themselves.”
Until then, bring on the week of tomatoes.
About This BlogChris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's food and wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farmworkers in Lodi. Chris judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-321-1253. Twitter: @chris_macias.
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