No event this large and ambitious can operate without a few bumps. Still, this year seemed bumpier than ever. Here, in alphabetical order, are five screw-ups -- three of which we experienced. Two others were reported to us by multiple sources, including other food writers:
Best of the Best: Many of the 1,800 or so guests endured a 30-minute wait in an uncomfortably crammed corridor while dullards gave speeches and national anthems were played. They called it a "champagne reception," which is sort of like referring to Times Square on New Year's Eve as a "hot dog reception" because of Sabrett stands dotting the crowd. Otherwise it ran smoothly -- except for the lack of desserts!!! Price per person: $350 (although most attendees were couples that shelled out $700).
BubbleQ: A good time as usual, but reports have it that the
event was way overcrowded, and food shortages were severe -- as in
approximately 50% to 60% of all entrees were gone by 9:20, including
etc. (Emeril served his pulled pork all the way through, and we hear it
was unbelievably good). Champagne flutes were also out by 9:20, so
guests were given plastic flutes or wine glasses. Price per person:
Dim Sum & Disco: Cool party, great Asian food, wonderful Ty-Ku
sake cocktails, etc. No complaints about this affair at all, but then
again, I was able to enter at 10:30 p.m. (starting time was 11) in order
to conduct an interview with Ming Tsai. The line of people waiting to
get in at that time, many wearing minimal clothing, was kept waiting
in very cold temps. One of the PR folks for the Festival was livid, but
I overheard someone from the Setai explaining that they didn't want so
many people crowding the lobby. Understandable on some level perhaps,
but the people the hotel didn't want milling about the lobby had paid
Grand Village Tasting Tent: More than one food blogger told me that this event featured "precious few wines that you couldn't find at Publix" -- the screw-up in this case being that lack of quality in relation to the price per person: $212.50.
Trade Tasting: Entry for this complimentary event for members
of the trade required standing in a blocks-long line, then reaching a
slow-moving snake line for bottle and bag, then a short trudge through
sand dunes to second snake line. Event ran from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Meaning by the time someone arriving at 2:00 p.m. would have gained
entrance, they'd have had about 30 minutes to enjoy. That's
no way to treat the trade!