"This has been my dream for nearly two decades, I still believe in that dream. And the image I had in mind wasn't what took place yesterday."
First off, straight up: Our humblest apologies go out to the many serious eaters who came out to Shoreline yesterday, particularly those who came between the hours of noon and four. My 17-year dream became a humbling reality in those first few hours.
We were so focused on getting the talent and purveyors together that we didn't realize how at risk we were logistically because more than 8,000 tickets were sold in the last week.
Frankly, people were so excited about the fest that they all showed up early, which doesn't normally happen at an all-day festival. That compounded the logistical issues. Our high-tech cashless wristband system, designed to be easy to use for serious eaters and purveyors alike, failed at the get-go.
That said, we did bring together in one place the greatest assemblage of quintessential, iconic American food ever: Anchor Bar, Barney Greengrass, Graeter's, Katz's Deli, Pink's, Southside Market, Tony Luke's, and Zingerman's. We did bring together and celebrate some of the best American chefs and food personalities, from Bobby Flay to Anne Burrell to Guy Fieri to Aida Mollenkamp. And I hope we provided hours of listening pleasure from Little Feat, Marshall Crenshaw, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
I will say that it was a tale of two festivals. After 4 p.m. people using cash seemed to have a great time buying food at lines that were most often 15 minutes or less, and never more than half an hour.
So where do we go from here?
I'm sure we'll start with a series of painful post-mortems so we can fix all the problems so that next year the Great American Food & Music Fest does deliver on all its fundamental promises: To deliver great American food, great American chefs, and great American music in a comfortable, welcoming, and efficient environment.
That's my promise to serious eaters everywhere, in the Bay Area and all over the country. If you could find it in your hearts to think of this as our first pancake, that would be great. You clearly showed there's a great hunger, a huge appetite for a festival like this. Now it's up to us to bring it to you in the right way. Stay tuned.
This has been my dream for nearly two decades, I still believe in that dream. And the image I had in mind wasn't what took place yesterday, but I won't give up on the dream that I think a lot of you share with me. It was a pleasure to meet so many of you in person. We'll let you know when we try again.
Before we sign off here, we feel compelled to give one last shout-out and thank you to all the serious eaters who came, as well as the incredible array of chefs, performers, musicians, and purveyors who performed heroically. And a special thanks to the national purveyors, who literally came thousands of miles to grace our presence with so much seriously delicious food: Anchor Bar, Barney Greengrass, Graeter's, Katz's Deli, Pink's, Southside Market, Tony Luke's, and Zingerman's. Thanks for all your hard work and indomitable spirit. And a course a most special thanks to Bobby Flay, who was a total mensch and an incredibly engaging, personal, and incandescent presence throughout the day and night.
This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.