By Caitlyn Belcher | Review Journal
It’s time to loosen those belts and stop counting calories.
The biannual Las Vegas Foodie Fest is scheduled to return Oct. 18-20 at the Silverton parking lot, 3333 Blue Diamond Road.
Managing partner Ranier Galgana said the festival will feature about 40 business vendors, 10 specialized food vendors and 35 food trucks from all over the country, including BACON MANia, Buttermilk and Jogasaki Sushi Burrito.
“Anything that is trendy right now, we want to highlight,” Galgana said. “We want to start bringing foods that aren’t usually in Las Vegas.”
The idea of hosting a food truck festival sparked from Galgana and his business partner Noel Casimiro’s love of food. They considers themselves “foodies,” people who have a refined interest in food and beverages.
“We would watch Food Network and the Travel Channel and see all these delicious foods from all over the world,” Galgana said, “but we never knew when the next time we would be in Seattle or San Francisco to try it.”
So instead of making people travel to the food, Galgana and Casimiro brought the food to the people.
“We wanted to concentrate on what’s already mobile, which are these awesome food trucks,” Galgana said.
However, these trucks are not roach coaches by any means.
“In this day and age, it’s difficult to come up with the $500,000 needed to open a restaurant,” Galgana said, “so talented chefs are opening their businesses in gourmet food trucks.”
Galgana frequently uses social media to gather feedback on the types of food the community would like to try at the festival.
“A large amount of people asked for White Castle,” Galgana said. “We sought them out, worked on the logistics and brought them out in April for the first time.”
Because of the large success, White Castle is set to return this month, bringing three times the crew and equipment.
“At the last event, we sold around 40,000 sliders using only two griddles and a crew of about 15 people,” said John Kelley, White Castle vice president of human resources. “We’re hoping to do at least double that, if not more, this time around.”
Kelley, who was at the April festival, said the wait time to receive sliders averaged three hours.
“I’m not the fastest person on the griddle, so I was entertaining people in line while they waited,” Kelley said. “I had to explain to people that the lines were so long because we had no idea we had this many cravers in Las Vegas.”
According to Kelley, White Castle is scheduled to operate two tents and a food truck to prevent long lines.
The food truck will take orders of 10 or fewer sliders, one tent will fulfill orders of 30, and the second tent will make orders of 30 or more.
“We were thrilled with the response we had in April and can’t wait to come back,” Kelley said. “It’s exciting to see all the cravers that have made their way to Vegas.”
In addition to food, the festival plans to have carnival rides, a beer garden, a car show, eating contests and more.
“We understand that it’s an eating experience and trying to eat all the food in one afternoon is very hazardous,” Galgana said. “So we offer weekend wristbands so people can spend the whole weekend with us.”
Although each festival takes six months to a year of planning, Galgana said his team has been able to throw ideas together in less than 40 days.
“It’s not something to brag about,” he said, “but when you have to get something done, you just have to go for it.”
Around 25,000 guests attended the first Foodie Fest in April 2012. Galgana said his team is expecting up to 45,000 attendees this event.
“We found out that people are even trying to scalp our tickets on Craigslist,” he said. “We’re taking measures to prevent this, but it’s quite flattering.”
General admission tickets start at $5 online. VIP tickets, which include a separate entrance, valet parking, exclusive tastings and an open bar, start at $50.
Tickets at the gate cost $10. Military and seniors tickets cost $8. All tickets at the gate must be purchased with cash. Children shorter than 54 inches are admitted free.
All proceeds benefit the Epicurean Charitable Foundation, a local nonprofit organization that provides scholarships and mentorship opportunities to students interested in hospitality or culinary arts.
The festival is open from 4 p.m. to midnight Oct. 18, noon to midnight Oct. 19 and noon to 10 p.m. Oct. 20. Tickets are valid for all three days.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit lasvegasfoodiefest.com.