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VOL. 129 | NO. 28 | Tuesday, February 11, 2014

More Foodie Fun

Dishcrawl grows its Memphis presence in 2014

By Andy Meek

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The leadership of Memphis’ Dishcrawl events has put together a growing list of events, surprises, gatherings and more for 2014 that should whet the appetite of the city’s foodie community.

Dishcrawl in Memphis will continue hosting “secret supper clubs” here every other month, like this one at Automatic Slim’s. The six-course, chef-focused dinners have been popular nationwide. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Among the new Dishcrawl events in the works this year is a major seasonal festival called Culture Memphis that’s being planned for a June launch.

Kim Fuqua, Dishcrawl Memphis’ “manager of food adventures,” said the event will pack culinary competitions, craft brews, wine tasting, barista competitions, live art demonstrations, a fashion show, local music, local vendors and a mixologist competition all into a single day.

“This is the kind of local festival Memphis has been gearing up for with annual events like the South Main Arts Fest and Memphis Best Burger Fest,” Fuqua said. “We want to take that synergy to the next level with something all-encompassing, where every aspect of the local culture of Memphis has a chance to shine.”

In addition to that, Dishcrawl also has launched a Dishcrawl VIP club called Tastemakers. Through the club, participants will be privy to weekly offerings of specially created non-menu items at local restaurants, monthly happy hours and a variety of related swag. That event will be, according to Fuqua, the program’s way of rewarding foodies who participated in and talked up Dishcrawl events over the past year.

Speaking of the past year, Dishcrawl kicked off in Memphis in 2013. The organization itself was founded in 2010 by Tracy Lee of San Jose, Calif., and quickly spread to cities like New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, Montreal and Toronto.

The signature Dishcrawl event is similar to a pub crawl, but with food. In essence, Dishcrawls are guided, walkable culinary tours that bring foodies together to explore multiple restaurants in a single night, restaurants often tied together by a theme for the evening.

Part of the fun is in the surprise of which locations will participate, since they are kept secret until 48 hours before the event.

Oscar Vego and Shane McCrea, right, of Star Distributors pour Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine at a Dishcrawl secret supper club event at Automatic Slim’s.

Among other local Dishcrawl news, the program has brought on some new “ambassadors” working with Fuqua as the program grows. Hollye Taylor and Yashica Perry are training through this month to begin running Dishcrawl events of their own.

Dishcrawl in Memphis also plans to continue the local “secret supper clubs” here every other month. Those six-course, chef-focused dinners have been popular nationwide, with participating chefs trying out new creative dishes and ingredients.

This spring will see the launch of a weekly “Best of Memphis Dishcrawl,” something geared more toward giving visitors and new residents a taste of local favorites.

“Our Dishcrawl events were really well-received last year, and I attribute that to the growing number of foodies and talented chefs who are choosing to call Memphis home, whether they grew up here or not,” Fuqua said. “Events like Cochon 555 and the national press our local chefs have been receiving, all of these things really contribute to the fact that we are growing into a foodie city in our own right.

“This citywide inferiority complex I'm always reading about, I don't see it in my interactions. The owners and chefs I work with love their city and are thrilled to participate in all of these fun events and make diners old and new smile with their food. All of the locals and new residents who attend our Dishcrawls and big events like Battledish just have a really great time doing something different and exploring the city in a fun and interactive way.”

Dishcrawl events just around the corner include a “Savory Chocolate Crawl” happening Feb. 19. For that one, chefs will attempt to surprise guests with different ways chocolate can be used.

After that, “Brunch by Trolley Crawl” is happening March 8. For that event, the Downtown trolleys will escort participants to three restaurants, where they’ll sample brunch-related items.

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