March 27-29, 2015
Turn on your appetite and get ready to feast! The 7th Annual FoodFest is coming back to New Orleans for a full weekend of “America’s Best Hometown Eats” from March 27-29.
Renowned the world over for its culinary delights, New Orleans is the ideal place for staging a festival dedicated to "America's Hometown Eats." Unlike many culinary festivals, FoodFest de-emphasizes fast food served by franchise operations and haute cuisine specialties served by pricey, upscale restaurants. The festival prefers, instead, to feature "authentic regional American food"; food items eaten by the average person at generally affordable prices.
Begun in 2009 as the New Orleans Roadfood Festival and held primarily on Royal Street in the French Quarter, the festival changed its name and location in its fifth year. Now known as FoodFest, it moved to the French Market in 2013 and expanded its range of offerings.
“America’s Hometown Sweets” Opening Event
The fun starts with “America's Hometown Sweets Opening Night” on Friday, March 27. The nation's best chocolates, cookies, candies, cakes, pies, and other delicious sweets will be offered at Café Reconcile from 8–10 p.m. The opening event gives guests an unprecedented opportunity to sample, compare and contrast regional taste in desserts and other tantalizing sweets.
Admission to this special, opening night party to benefit the nonprofit Café Reconcile is $40.
At the French Market
The historic French Market is the place to be for the remainder of a weekend of food and fun on March 28 and 29. Established in 1791, the New Orleans French Market is the oldest still-operating outdoor market in the United States.
During this free admission event, between the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, you can sample the hometown eats from more than three dozen hometown eateries from New Orleans and around the country.
Four blocks in the French Market will be lined a wide variety of culinary specialties ranging from New Orleans seafood and South Louisiana Cajun gumbo to Texas barbecue to Southwestern tamales and much more. FoodFest is a tribute to the unique, informal fare found in village cafes and city neighborhoods, shoreline seafood shacks, barbecue parlors, chicken dinner halls, pie palaces, and food trucks.
Every food offering is a great American classic, cooked and served by the culinary artists who often follow recipes handed down from previous generations: age-old, tried-and-true formulas that give each dish its distinctive flavor and quality. And, after you’re done eating or even while you’re eating, you can wash it all down with a refreshing, Southern-style mint julep or an iced coffee or a beer.
Approximately 20 restaurants and specialty vendors had confirmed their participation. In addition to those from New Orleans, several famous eateries from Memphis, New Haven, Rochester (NY) and Natchitoches, LA will be taking part.
Beignet Eating Contest
One of the highlights of the FoodFest is the Beignet Eating Contest. This year the contest will be held on Sunday, March 29 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the French Market.
For the uninitiated, a beignet is a fried, hollow pastry that is served hot and topped off with a heaping helping of powdered sugar. Generally served with café au lait (coffee with milk) in places like Café du Monde and Morning Call, don’t be alarmed if you get powdered sugar on your clothes. It’s all part of the fun of eating beignets and it wipes off easily with a damp napkin.
This year, once again, the New Orleans Fire Department will field a team of its top eaters to determine which of them can eat the most beignets in the least amount of time. Whereas normal eaters consume the city's beloved silky fritters in lots of two or three along with their café au lait, the uniformed men in this fast-paced contest devour them by the dozen! The winning team takes home the World Champion Beignet Eating Belt.
And, since last year, the contest now features an open competition for all who have the appetite and courage to compete in the Beignet Big League. Those who are interested in participating are asked to show up and register 15 minutes before the start of the event.
So, who will be crowned the World's Beignet Eating Champion? Come out to the French Market and find out. Admission is free.
The FoodFest is a joint venture of Roadfood.com and the New Orleans Convention Company. It was spun out of the website Roadfood.com, which was founded in 2000 by Stephen Rushmore and Jane and Michael Stern.
For more information on the event, visit the festival's website www.nolafoodfest.com or call (504) 888-7608.
Two of the French Quarter’s finest hotels are offering special discounted rates for visitors during this year’s FoodFest. The Hotel Monteleone, located in the 200 block of picturesque Royal Street, has lowered its standard room rate to $219 per night, which includes free internet service for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
To book a room at the Monteleone call 1-800-217-2033 and ask for the “FoodFest Block” or book online.
Also offering a discounted rate for FoodFest is the Bienville House, located at 320 Decatur Street. They have dropped their rate for the weekend to $189 per night, including free internet and continental breakfast from Friday through Sunday.
To book a room at Bienville House call 1-800-535-7836 and ask for the "FoodFest Block.” To book online, click here.
About Café Reconcile
One of the nonprofit charitable beneficiaries of the FoodFest is Café Reconcile. Located in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans, the work of Reconcile New Orleans is to provide at-risk youth an opportunity to learn life and interpersonal skills and operational training for successful entry into the hospitality and restaurant industries.
It also aims to provide an economic development cornerstone for the Central City neighborhood, and to provide services to address unmet neighborhood needs (such as quality family-based literacy instruction for adults and children) until such time as other local organizations can establish their own programs in the community.
Reconcile New Orleans Youth Workforce training program has successfully enrolled over 500 youth between the ages of 16 and 22 to learn basic life skills, interpersonal skills and work skills to enable and empower them to successfully enter the second-largest non-governmental workforce in New Orleans' entertainment and hospitality industry.
To learn more about Cafe Reconcile, please visit www.cafereconcile.com.