The whole idea of Gunther’s Gourmet Gala is to have each company share their success with each other by bringing buyers, wholesalers, etc to the event to check out the products of the other companies that attend this event. This is not a hot sauce show by any means, and since it is not, not every buyer attending will be looking for such products. Now in it’s 4th year it might be time to call a spade a spade, and no matter how much Michael Lampros works to make this event a success for the vendors that attend, there seems to be a lack of buyers for these few spicy product makers. Michael stresses over making sure it works out, but he can’t control everything. It really is admirable to see how hard he works putting this event together. He contacts a lot of stores, restaurants, wholesalers in hopes that he can bring new business to the vendors, but it might be time to shake things up a bit. The rotation of makers that have attended over the last 4 years have for the most part suffered in getting the attention of any significant wholesale business. If they were local companies it would not be such a big deal because it is only $35 to get a spot at the Gala, but those that travel a long distance there are a lot of other expenses. It really is a shame that the Gala isn’t working for everyone.
On the other hand, for us bloggers it is a very fun-filled event and Michael goes all out for us and we really appreciate it. He gives us a little area to do some sauce reviews and we are fed chicken wings and mozzarella sticks and there is plenty to drink as well. In attendance for the bloggers were Marilyn & Brian Meagher of HotSauceDaily/HotSauceWeekly, John Scrovak from EatMoreHeat, and fellow ILIS reviewer, Alex Goldberg (one half of the Schobergs). This year Michael had a couple of companies bring their micro-brews and there was even frozen margaritas being served up. Life was good. Quite a few new companies were there for the first time, so that is always a good thing to sample some new things. Apinya Thai Chili Sauce, a local company from the Northern Virginia-DC area made their show debut. We had reviewed their sauce a few months back and they had won a 2013 Golden Chile Award for best Asian Sauce. They were debuting 2 new products – a coconut harissa sauce, and Thai basil sauce. Then there was Help Me Jesus Hot Sauce who also had a Help Me Moses label just so they covered the Kosher crowd. Very funny, but very tasty sauce. We did a wing review which I will post this week at some point. Another newbie was the Bone Doctors whom I met at the Fancy Food Show a couple of years ago. I wasn’t able to buy their product at that show and wanted to. I was glad to have the opportunity to do so at the Gala. I love thick, sweet and spicy BBQ sauce. Some hot sauce veterans were in attendance – Race City Sauce Works and Born to Hula, as well as Wy’s Wings who were making their 3rd appearance at the Gala. Another new company, Virginia Heat did not leave me with a lasting impression after trying their 3 hot sauces. Albeit, I did not have them with food to be fair. I do hope they wish to do a review with us so we can really put their sauces to the test.
Overall it was fun, I enjoyed doing the wing reviews with my fellow bloggers, and was really happy the candy-filled chile pepper pinata that I had brought along was a big hit with the kids. The video for that is below, and we have a few wing sauce reviews for you over the next week. I am just sorry that all of Michael’s hard work did not live up to hard sales. Mike, don’t give up with the Gala, but you might want to make it bigger by taking it from the private affair that it has been to a town happening. Something to think about it over the next year. I plan on coming back regardless as long as you want me there. Thanks again for having me. Please check out Gunther’s Gourmet and see all their award winning products.