Post-Feast…(er, Fest!) 2

The inaugural GastroFest has come and gone, and by all accounts it was a huge success. Beautiful Hemming Park was the perfect setting last Saturday for the masses to enjoy Northeast Florida food and food culture. And were there ever masses! The last numbers we heard, which may not be the final tally, were that over 30,000 people came out to sip, savor, socialize, and support our local foodshed.

There was so much to see, do, taste and learn that we couldn’t post or tweet fast enough to let everyone know about it! So we decided to do a whole post full of pictures. Were you there? Comment on this post and let us know what your favorite part, activity, event or vendor was.

We couldn’t think of an “s” for it earlier, but the all-day rotation of great bands on the D’Land Music Stage provided an aural backdrop for the buzz of activity that day.

Speaking of buzzes, we weren’t able to make it over to the cocktail competition at the Candy Apple, but we heard it was a blast! Beer seemed popular with everyone from morning visitors to the beer tent…

Breakfast? Well, they say beer’s liquid bread, right?

…to the Beer Apostle’s homebrew competitions in the special events tent.

Jolly judges!

But wine was not to be outdone. One event that we were especially excited to be a part of was the Vegan Wine and Cheese tasting in the special events tent.

Happy vegans!

Todd, with Republic National, did a great job of explaining what makes some wines vegan and others not as he offered tastings of two whites and two reds.

Todd Paschall explaining the distinction between vegan and non-vegan wine.

Meanwhile, we were so busy serving and talking with people about SunRAWise‘s fantastic plant-based “cheeses” that we didn’t even have a chance to snap a pic of the platter. Attendees had the opportunity to sample a wide variety though: Original, Blue Vein, Italian Herb, Rosemary, Smoke & Spicy, and Smoked Gouda. Those there who didn’t already know and love this non-dairy, healthy cheese alternative became instant fans.

Speaking of not having time to snap pics, there were so many representatives of our local foodshed there, there was no way we could visit them all. And some, like FreshJax, we visited several times and just spaced on taking any pictures, I guess. (But you can see them in the right corner of the photo above!) We were also SO hungry that we forgot to take pictures of Tapa That’s aMAZing vegan meatballs before we wolfed them down. (What was IN that magic citrus sauce, Chef Coutu?!) Truly, the participation by our local farmers; co-ops; urban agriculture educators; food businesses and chefs who are interested in healthy, plant-based eating; those who are effecting social change through food; and more was overwhelming and we would like to thank ALL of them for participating and showing everyone what Jax is doing to make the world a better place.

A few more pics:

Matthew and Devon representing Dig Local, a not-for-profit that works to connect people to better food.

Heather Borders, of Kailo Nutrition was there, talking with people about transitioning to a plant-based diet.

Did you know that rice is being grown right here in Jax? Farmer Scott Meyer and Amy O’Hoyt of Congaree and Penn were there to spread the word.

Brett, from Down to Earth Farm, presented “Supporting Local Agriculture” in the theatre at MOCA. Many thanks to MOCA’s Denise Reagan for being the hostess with the mostess for the day’s presentations!

Conscious Eats’ Florence Haridan doing a cooking demo.

Florence was also one of the panelists for the “Food and Social Good” discussion, along with Brett Swearingen of the North Florida School of Special Education’s Berry Good Farm; Kim Fore of the Children’s Home Society of Florida; and Angela TenBroeck of Traders Hill Farms. On the left is GastroJax’s Executive Director, Erin Thursby, moderating the panel.

In our presentation on “Eating Sustainably in Jacksonville,” we mentioned all the different ways one can find and buy local food, including co-ops like Local Fare.

There were so many local, small prepared-food businesses there, like Community Loaves, Bold City Pops and, of course, SunRAWise, a Fest supporter from the very beginning.


SunRAWise has such a wide variety!

Did everyone do some shopping at GastroFest? We sure did!

The SunRAWise cashew cream cheese was gone before we could get any pics of the creations we used it in, but here’s some of what we did with the rest of it:

True confession: We’d never had rice grits before; if you haven’t either, do it! Congaree and Penn’s are the creamiest, most delicious thing ever and will be making a regular appearance on TOA’s menu from now on!

FreshJax’s Coconut Curry was a new try for us. We used it as a breading for sprouted tofu on a bed of sautéed broccoli greens. Delicious!

We do hope everyone had as good a time at GastroFest as we did. Comment and tell us about your experience!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “Post-Feast…(er, Fest!)

    • The Organic Adventurer Post author

      Hi Dawn! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. And thanks re: the tofu and greens…it WAS amazing: tons of protein, iron, calcium, minerals and vitamins all in one dish! Can’t wait to see you at a booth at GastroFest next year!