Event - Patchwork Show: Edible Edition 2013

Fall in Southern California seems schizophrenic at times waffling between gloomy cold and sunny heat. Luckily for the Patchwork Show: Edible Edition which took place October 5 and 6 at the South Coast Collection (SOCO) in Costa Mesa, the weather was kind enough to keep outdoors-friendly...if you were okay dealing with heat. I say luckily also because the night before, intense Santa Ana winds swept through the area; they stayed at bay for the weekend though. More than 5,000 visitors flooded the area on Saturday and just about half that number on Sunday for the two-day food-filled event. If you aren't familiar with the Patchwork Show, it is the product of Delilah Snell and Nicole Stevenson who have cultivated these artisanal, handmade shows around California and Phoenix, Arizona where 99% of the vendors/artists present are from the immediate region. To highlight the up-and-coming artisanal food movement, the "Edible Edition" was created and what better venue is there than SOCO?

So much buzz had been created the weeks leading up to the event including a media preview that we got to be a part of. Though the initial estimates and promises were for 90+ vendors, the show ended up with a whopping 120 vendors and artists for the weekend which, of course, was paired with proper planning in a way to guarantee success despite the large number. It was no wonder that they needed all of their 80+ event staff members (some of which were volunteers) who were instrumental in ensuring that everything ran smoothly. With so many options, it's not hard to believe why there was just about something for everyone - live demos, DIY activities, food samplings, panel discussion, and so on. There were six different stages (and one general area) with simultaneous sessions (nearly 50!) which made it extremely difficult to pick which ones to attend. When you are bombarded with back-to-back-to-back-to-back options featuring the likes of Evan Kleiman, Aida Mollenkamp, Russ Parsons, Gustavo Arellano, Bill Esparza, Christoper (CJ) Jacobsen, Dean Kim, Ernest Miller, and Laura Avery, it can be overwhelming!

I opted to spend my first hour in attendance listening to the master baker and bread genius Dean Kim of OC Baking Company as he demonstrated baking bread using a portable brick oven. To more easily instruct, he graciously provided every audience member with a bag of his own proofed dough to take home and experiment with as well as tall garlic baguettes (which were ridiculously good and had at least ten cloves of garlic in each!). He answered questions from the audience about all things baking and was quite the humble host. It was apparent from his instruction that he was a big proponent of experimentation in the kitchen, and even he said about his bakery, "Never get mad at bakers for burning bread, just learn from it." Sound advice! Then everyone got their tastes of the freshly baked bread, and all that was left of the session were the satisfied looks on everyone's faces.

The workshops and demos seemed endless. Additionally, the winding paths of SOCO and the OC Mart Mix as well as "hidden" areas led me to find activities going on in spots I didn't think to venture to. Because of so many demos and panels going on at the same time across the sprawling SOCO campus, it was easy to think that there weren't thousands of other people with you that day sharing in the joy of food but believe me, there were. All for food too! Delilah Snell stated, "What happened at Patchwork Edible is the start of connecting the dots- so many food makers and voices need a platform to connect with the region and a to celebrate where it will take us. It is time for Southern California food to connect and celebrate - Patchwork Edible is starting to make strides in helping those connections grow and flourish. There were so many pieces to put in place and voices to bring together- a very hard undertaking but very fruitful. We have never received this amount of joy and appreciation for bringing together so many wonderful people!"

I even spotted the SoCal Restaurant Show present to talk to many of the restaurants in that space live from Patchwork Edible including Arc and Taco Maria! The food-oriented vendors weren't only limited to actual food items either. There were several that took it to the crafty level of expressing their love of food through jewelry, apparel, and merchandise including one of my favorites - Bad Pickle Tees. Other booths included those involved in the growing of food and non-profit work about hunger.

I ran into plenty of the vendors we got to meet during the media preview but at 120+ for the weekend, I certainly couldn't meet them all. These businesses mainly came from the Orange County and Los Angeles area but there were several that came out from San Diego, the Inland Empire, and Long Beach. As you and I both know, food unites!

I did manage to visit several activities, and one of the impressive ones was the steak demonstration by Noah Blom of Arc Restaurant right there at SOCO. Utilizing the same portable brick oven that Dean Kim had used previously in the day, he revealed his own steak cooking techniques to the gathered attendees and spoiled us with tastes of the 18-day aged double tomahawk beaut (estimated to be about a $250 steak!). One out-of-the-box technique that he taught was the testing of doneness of steak by running a wire, which had been inserted into the steak, along the bottom of one's lip, the claimed most temperature-sensitive part of your body. More commonly known techniques such as salting meats and trussing them were given full explanations during the demonstration as well.

All in all, Patchwork Edible seemed to be a success being both well-planned and well-publicized. The team over at the Patchwork Show as well as SOCO (great job Anais!) held a fantastic inaugural event, and it was plain to see that Orange County would openly welcome another. When asked if it would become a yearly occasion, Delilah said, "We would LOVE to have Edible be an annual event to celebrate and connect creative food voices and makers. This was always the plan - the responses we have received after the event from attendees, vendors and speakers/presenters exemplifies that we need to keep connecting the Southern California food movement." I wholeheartedly agree and have already demolished my stash of everything I picked up there. I guess that means I need more of these artisans' stuff!

Photography by Minerva Thai. More photos available on Facebook here.




  1. LOVE your images!!! thank you for capturing the weekend :)
    hope you had a great time and had a blast! to many more!!