Friday, July 20, 2018

The Not So Great American Food & Music Festival


There wasn't enough food...unless you count all the egg on Ed Levine's face

The Great American Food & Music Festival this past weekend at Shoreline Amphitheater was a total disaster, due primarily to the fact that its main organizer and supposed food visionary Ed Levine did a terrible job of organizing the event. 100's (maybe even thousands) of people left in disgust, due to no food, long lines and a plethora of other problems. Many demanded refunds and got them. It's amazing that a riot did not take place. Never in my entire life have I ever encountered such a fiasco, and I've been to a lot of these types of festivals. Most of them are quite well-run and very professional. This one was neither. Then, to add insult to injury, Levine then comes up with this completely lame "apology" two days after the debacle. As Pat Bentar once sang, "It's a little too little and it's a little too late." Here is his so-called apology: "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. (Wow, people showed up before you were ready. Whose fault is that, Ed?)

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. (Great, but if there was no food to eat, or if you had to wait in line for 3 HOURS, what does it matter? Thanks for telling us about all the great foo0d we didn't get to try, Ed)

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. (This is a FLAT-OUT LIE!)

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. (Do you think people will actually give you a second chance to blow this thing yet again?)

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."

Thanks for nothing, Levine! Your event was lame and so is your explanation for the disaster!

About the Writer

Ed Attanasio is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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8 comments on The Not So Great American Food & Music Festival

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By DocChuck on June 18, 2009 at 10:16 am

Great article, and VERY informative. However, you may have been just a bit generous towards Levine. Personally, I thought he was arrogant, callous, totally untruthful, and seemed to revel in insulting our intelligence.

Perhaps Levine should keep his "ventures" in New York City where financial fiascos seem to be the order of the day.

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By DocChuck on June 22, 2009 at 03:36 pm

I have been told (and unfortunately I cannot divulge the source) that a Washington D.C. law firm is presently considering the filing of a class-action lawsuit.  Supposedly, the organizers of the event have offered "refunds", but there are a lot of issues with the "CASH" angle to be resolved, and reportedly the "refunds" are not forthcoming as advertised. 

There are apparently people involved with the "event" who feel that a number of promoters (especially Ed Levine)  have been less than forthcoming about the financial disclosures that will have to be resolved.

AND, the Food Network participants have been strangely quiet about THEIR involvement with the organizers of the event.

It is my lay opinion that the organizers of this fiasco are headed for court.

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By Van Gearhart on June 25, 2009 at 02:42 pm
Yes, I am sure there will be lawsuits galore as an aftermath of this fiasco.
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By sushinoms on December 03, 2010 at 04:39 pm

I had heard about this from a friend and I didn't believe it, so now that I've read this I am actually amazed that somebody would fail this bad<a href="">.</a>

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By ShylohJacobs on January 11, 2011 at 11:57 am

I agree with sushinoms completely. I think somone needs to go back to class to learn a couple more things. Have you ever thought about writing a foodie blog?

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By ShylohJacobs on February 10, 2011 at 09:59 am

Thank you for this <a href=""> foodie blog </a>! I am sorry to hear that something like this ran out of food! I guess they know how to plan for next year!

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By ShylohJacobs on February 10, 2011 at 10:00 am

Thank you for your foodie blog! I just can't help but wonderhow something like this could run out of food! It still baffels me!

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By ShylohJacobs on February 10, 2011 at 10:01 am

Sorry, I just had to read this foodie blog a third time! How did this happen!? I am sorry that your dream didn't turn out the way you'd hoped but, at least you now know things to consider next time!

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