Times they are a-changin': From Coachella to Glastonbury, music festivals are answering the ever-more-frenzied cries from mosh pits of health-conscious fans who want their next meal to be anything but processed meat in tube form. Unless of course it’s an artisanal sausage sandwich.
For KAABOO Del Mar organizers, it would be silly to ignore these giant trends in the industry - but at the same time, kudos to KAABOO for recognizing that San Diego’s burgeoning culinary community is worth exposing to music fanatics at this three-day festival, in addition to caring about what its crowds consume.
Besides having fresh, local food to lust after, festival-goers can choose between two distinctive experiences - Posh Nosh, the currently under-wraps upscale grab-and-go concept; and Palate, an area with its own stage and various seating options that offers more of a tasting menu approach with an array of small bites. If the goal is to have high-quality eats and fresher options from which to choose, all signs point to that being the case at KAABOO with 18 featured restaurants and chefs.
Here’s our list of flavors and chef events that you won’t want to miss.
First stop? Javier Plascencia, executive chef and partner of Bracero Cocina de Raiz, says he’s ready for your selfie-sticks and mean appetites with his vazo de elote - a TJ street food-inspired “cocktail” with charred corn shaved off the cob and combined with tangy citrus, cotija cheese and chile powder. “We’re seeing a bigger trend of people not eating meat,” said Plascencia of his second item, the taco de coliflor. “It’s simple and delicious with cheese, tomato sauce and pickled red onions. Who doesn’t love tacos?”
Our lucky seven predictions for the best grub at these KAABOO Palate booths:
Venissimo Cheese: Cheese plate or a sandwich.
Herringbone: Octopus salad
Napizza: Pizza al taglio
Sausage & Meat: Bacon fat deviled eggs
Saiko Sushi: Market sushi hand roll
Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar: Lobster rolls
Cucina Enoteca: Cucina meatballs
KAABOO Rock’n Chef Competition
Besides catching chef band performances throughout the festival, conveniently located for your noshing pleasure on the Palate Stage, perhaps the most anticipated culinary event - besides the festival food itself - takes place Saturday, Sept. 19 when some of San Diego’s most notable chefs will go head to head in live battle.
Contenders include Amy DiBiase, Brian Malarkey, Chad White, James Montejano, Jason McLeod and Javier Plascencia, who will compete in teams of two during the semifinals to decide who will face off with a “chicken-fried” theme main course and dessert.
The winner scores entry to the World Food Championships in November for a chance to win $100,000, four VIP passes to next year’s KAABOO festival, a custom knife by James Cosimini, and more. Judges include Sam the Cooking Guy and Candice Woo, editor of Eater San Diego. From noon to 6 p.m. Saturday on the Palate Stage.
Amy T. Granite is a dauntless eater who has written about food in San Diego since 2006. You can follow Granite and her tasty adventures on Twitter and Instagram @saysgranite. Send your mouth-watering ideas to her at email@example.com.