There was an air of excitement. The day couldn’t have been nicer. The second I walked in, the sound of people having fun could be heard all around. Upbeat music played from a nearby stage. The aroma of delicious food surrounded me. And it only cost $5.
The very first Cleveland Eats culinary festival wrapped up Saturday, September 16. The goal of this festival was to raise awareness and gain funds for Cuyahoga Community College’s Hospitality Management and its students’ scholarships. Over 30 chefs donated their time to benefit education and Tri-C.
Cleveland Eats started Thursday, September 14, with a VIP event at Tri-C’s Hospitality Management Center in Public Square. This event offered walkthroughs of kitchen preparation,sampling of an array of food and beverages, and baskets of goods up for auction.
Of those in attendance was Dean of the Hospitality Management Program, Michael Huff.
“This ticketed event is a kick-off for the weekend, to get everyone excited about the food and other events to come.”
Huff said he wanted the event to be for the students. Not only were Hospitality Management students donating their time that night, but over 300 other students across a variety of programs got to take part and help out with Cleveland Eats.
“I wanted this event to build relationships and connections with students and future employers,” Huff said.
Each student was paired with a participating chef and spent the days prior to Thursday in that chef’s restaurant kitchen, preparing for the event. Huff praised the food and how well the students were communicating with the chefs.
“Cleveland Eats has perfect timing,” Huff said. “The Cleveland food scene is on the rise, and this event just showcases that and the future chefs of this city.”
Friday was known as the “happy hour” of the festival, dedicated to food trucks, alcoholic beverages, and beating a world record by constructing a 216-pound pierogi!
The main event on Saturday cost $5 per person and was more of a family-friendly event.
“Jalapeno-cheddar sausage,” answered event-goer John Pence when asked about his favorite dish at the festival. “And it was only $5. Hell of a deal.”
Another crowd favorite was the sliders from Stack’d, which were equally a steal at $5. All plates were only $5!
There were also live cooking shows throughout the festival, featuring a variety of local chefs sharing their cooking tips. These were free-of-charge and open for anyone to sit in and watch.
“The music rocks!” said vendor Shannon Hogar. “The kids are running around chasing bubbles. People are full from all the food. This place just rocks.”
The kids’ play area had face painting, entertainers on stilts, people teaching little ones how to hula hoop, and so much more. There wasn’t a bored kid in sight.
Once the day turned to night and everyone was well-fed, the fireworks went off, signaling the end of the first annual Cleveland Eats festival.
Raising money for local scholarships, bringing awareness to some great local restaurants, and providing people of all ages with a good time were all part of this event. Don’t miss next year’s Cleveland Eats.
Hannah Lovejoy contributed to this report