But more pertinent, he recalls the time when a very reputable French chef gave a demo followed by the obligatory cookbook signing, which attracted a dozen or so folks. Rachael Ray followed, and bedlam ensued as hundreds clamored for her autograph. Ticket sales for dinners and other such events have followed the same trajectory: Much of the public is simply more fascinated by Food Network personalities than by professional and perhaps taciturn practitioners of the craft.

There have been other festival gripes, the majority aimed at sky-high ticket prices, occasional overcrowding, and the questionable bang-for-buck value of the Grand Tasting Village — which those in the know have learned to avoid. The most common complaint regards lack of an exit/entrance midway through the village so those requiring use of a portable potty needn't walk a mile to do so.

That said, Best of the Best at the Fontainebleau and the various dinners and brunches are met with almost universal praise, as is the sheer let-your-hair-down fun found at the BubbleQ and Burger Bash. Nobody, in fact, can credibly dispute that the SBWFF pumps an unfathomable amount of great food, drink, cheer, excitement, and money into our city for four splendid days. Plus it always brings something else along: the unexpected.

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