Here’s what’s new, innovative and worked well at this year’s festival at the Pasadena Rose Bowl –
1. New Hours – Gates opened at 3 p.m. this year. Fortunately, it wasn’t a scorching hot day. The festival continued until 8 p.m.
2. This year, guests were offered a cardboard tray that looked like a individual size pizza box. It had a drink and shot holder and space for at least three small plates. Ingenious. It’s called a FreeHand ThumbTray and was a big hit at the festival. There were a few of the sponsors and participants advertising on the tray. As we all walked around the Rose Bowl their name was communicated in a unique way. To learn more, go to www.freehandtrays.com or http://www.carryoutsupplies.com.
3. The layout included the historical Rose Bowl field this year. They even had a Rose Garden VIP Lounge down on the turf. Guest could enter through selected gates and take a seat in one of the stadium seats or take a nap before indulging in more food and beverages.
4. There was a separate VIP line at Gate F and a General Admission entrance at the opposite end of the stadium at Gate C. This helped give the illusion that the lines weren’t as long in the parking lots and at the entrance.
5. The $90 VIP ticket allowed foodies 90 minutes (that’s $1 a minute, and worth it) to enjoy the event before the General Admission crowd entered the festival. The lines were much shorter for VIP guests to enjoy all the food trucks and tents, plus gain full access to two VIP areas – one in the Garden Concourse near the main stage and the other down on the Rose Bowl field. The Coachella style Garden VIP area had Celebrity chef Phillip Frankland Lee creating innovative plates and lounge furniture by West Elm to kick back with some creative fare and tasty cocktails.
6. Upon entering, guests were given an easy to read illustrated map of the festival. The Latin cuisine tents were designated with colorful fiesta flags, beer tents were dotted along the pathway with steins of foamy beer. Asian cuisine was marked with a Chinese take-out box with chopsticks. American dishes were noted with American flags and the European area was a wrap. Desserts were ice-cream cones, donuts and creamy floats with a straw.
7. Instead of free bottled water, they gave away boxed water. I learned that The Boxed Water container is far more sustainable than plastic bottled water. About 76% of the box is from a renewable resource – trees.
8. New Additions to the festival this year were Osso, IMLI, Berliners, Tacoteca, Sweetfin Poke, Scratch Bar, Gadarene Swine, Bachi Burger, and Thee Elbow Room. I really enjoyed the chefs at the artisanal French Food Truck serving Croque Madame and open face Croques with foie gras shredded on top.
9. Veggie festival-goers gorged on One Veg World barbecued Dragon fruit sliders and Chef Phillip Frankland Lee’s Gadarene Swine’s veggie shots in the serene VIP Lounge.
10. Plenty of Alcohol – There was the Tequila Tasting Tent in the Latin area with pours of Angel Bendito Tequila, Corazon Azul, Tequila Don Nacho and a Michi Mobil serving micheledas. Beer aficionados sipped generous pours from Angel City Brewery, Firestone Walker, Stella Artois, Goose Island and Singha. Cocktails were served at Church Key, Venice Whaler and Corner Door booths.
12. I loved the new addition of an air-conditioned comedy bus. Hot or weary guests entered a former prison bus, now decorated like a nightclub lounge, to sit back and laugh at a few jokes and comedic routines. I’m already looking forward to next year’s La Street Food Festival in July 2016!