Summer and fall seem to be the peak time for food festivals. While they may be winding down in other areas, in the Southeast they are still going strong well into the fall. Sometimes people attend and forget their manners at home. If that is you, kindly refrain from going. But if you do, here are some rules for proper food festival etiquette.
1. Try new things. If you’ve been given a map or directory of restaurants and what they are serving, you may have meticulously plotted out which restaurants you will visit and in which order. I know I would. While this is a terrific plan of action, you need to also be prepared to try new dishes. You may discover something you love. So, be open to expanding your horizons.
2. Get out of the Way! There’s nothing more annoying than standing in a long line and when you are just about to get to the point where you can get your small plate, the jerk in front of you proceeds to stand there and eat instead of moving out of the way, creating a backup in the line. Don’t be this guy, just don’t.
3. Cutting in line. The lines for popular food tents seem to grow exponentially each year. News flash: no one likes to wait. We all want instant satisfaction. Cutting in line just makes you look like a huge douche bag. Wait your turn. And if you feel like you just can’t do that, find a line that is much shorter.
4. Say Please and Thank You. If you think it’s hot a miserable walking around while sipping on your beer, think about how miserable it is under the tent, standing all day long, plating up food. A smile and a “thank you” go a long way. So, don’t forget your manners.
5. Strollers are a no no. When did it become customary to bring toddlers to food festivals? If I had a kid, I’d for sure steer them to being a foodie. I’d make them try lots of different kinds of things. But I probably wouldn’t bring them to a food festival. It is boring for them and frustrating for festival-goers to have their feet continuously run over by strollers.
In talking with chef friends, I’ve learned that a food festival is one of the worst places to see any chef or restaurant at it’s best. It makes sense – they don’t have the same kitchen to work out of at a festival as in their restaurant. They have to choose items that can be prepped elsewhere and brought to the festival with minimal cooking. How else would they be able to feed so many people so quickly? Keep these things etiquette reminders in mind when visiting food festivals, and you will probably have a better time. Well, at least the people around you will.