We spent this past weekend in San Francisco with a few friends from home…and a bunch of bloggers. It was the 3rd Annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, and we were very lucky to attend on behalf of Alexia Foods this year. We were one of the 22 bloggers who created and submitted a new flavor for the “Reinvent a Classic” Challenge. The Alexia Food’s Research and Development team our Herbes de Provence and Garlic as one of the four finalists, which is a huge honor. Now it’s up to our friends and family again to help us push our way to the top! Voting is now open on the Alexia Foods Facebook page. Head over and cast your ballot for the flavor that sounds the best! Voting will run through March 30, 2012. Vote now, vote tomorrow, vote every day! In the meantime, here’s a look at our Saturday with Alexia Foods and the one and only Chef Tyler Florence.
Our day of Alexia began on Saturday at the Tasting Pavilion event held each year at the Metreon Mall. Vendors and brands galore line up and down the space sharing samples and information about their goods. Right in the middle of the room, Alexia Foods had an amazing preparation and demonstration space set up. There were samples of their products–backed right there in the stacked ovens–on plates for anyone to grab. We were able to meet several members of the Alexia Foods team, both the brand and agency. They are a great bunch of people who have been helpful and generous during our experience with the contest so far, and you all know how nice it is to work with good people.
About halfway through our food fest at the Tasting Pavilion, Tyler Florence made a surprise visit to the Alexia Foods stand. Funny enough, we did not hear any yelps or crazy applause. His appearance became known to us by the massive swarm of fans who silently attacked him for an autograph and photo. We snuck over and snapped a pic between all of the heads. We knew we’d have a chance to meet him later in the evening, so we decided not to stand in line for the meet-and-greet. Instead, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for a big moment. We would have the opportunity to interview Chef Tyler Florence himself. After a quick kick back in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, we were headed down to the interview room. It was there that all of the finalists were in the same room at the same time. Angela Williamson of Fab Find Foodie, Farihah Ali of Spice’s Bites and Marla Meredith of Family Fresh Cooking were all ready and prepped for their moment in front of the camera with Tyler Florence. Our 10 minutes with Tyler flew by in a flash. He was welcoming and easy-going, asking more questions about us than we could ask about him! He talked about his partnership with Alexia Foods, his enjoyment of our fry flavor, restaurants in San Francisco and more. We will share the video footage on Facebook as soon as we get our hands on it.
Right after our interview, we ran off to get gussied up for the evening. After less than an hour, we were heading back downstairs for the Cocktail Reception where all four flavors of the finalist fries would be unveiled for tasting. It was the first time we would taste the Alexia Foods’ Research & Development team’s version of our at-home creation. Festival attendees milled around the room sampling the fries that were offered, and we received feedback from a few people who really enjoyed our herby concoction. The competition is steep, so it was somewhat calming to hear that.
After an hour of wine and fries, we made our way into the dining area for a full sit-down dinner, but not before Tyler Florence appeared on stage for his live demonstration. He’s so personable, a true calming presence on stage and when he works. One of the the main bits he drove home was the fact that “color is flavor”. Caramelizing your food is not burning it; let the natural sugars come out to enhance the flavor of any dish. He led us through an hour off intoxicating aromas and great cooking tips before plating a brined and pan roasted duo of pork chops over braised red cabbage, chive spaetzle and a mustard and crème fraîche sauce. We were seated at a front row table, so as soon as the demo was over, we grabbed his presentation plate and passed the plate around the table for sampling. We could only slice the smallest slivers of pork off the chop as the meat did not have enough time to cook through, but what we ate was indeed delicious.
Best of luck to our finalist friends as we all watch the race proceed to the March 30, 2012 finish line. This process will go on for several months, so you see many reminders to vote over the weeks to come. Check out the Alexia Foods Facebook page for more info, and thanks in advance for any of your votes!
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