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Locals Join All-Star Line-up at Metro Cooking Show

Area specialty food entrepreneurs among the attractions at the 2012 Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show.

Anne Shomberg (left) of Basiks at Home, in Reston, pictured with her daughter Amy Shomberg and sister-in-law Tamra Mehlberg (center), shares her spices, seasonings, vinegars and oils with visitors at the 2012 Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show in Washington.

Anne Shomberg (left) of Basiks at Home, in Reston, pictured with her daughter Amy Shomberg and sister-in-law Tamra Mehlberg (center), shares her spices, seasonings, vinegars and oils with visitors at the 2012 Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show in Washington. Photo by Marilyn Campbell.

When celebrity chefs and Food Network stars were in Washington last weekend for what has become a Super Bowl for foodies (Giada De Laurentiis, Jacques Pepin, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons and The Chew’s Michael Symon and Carla Hall were just some of the famous faces), some area culinary enthusiasts joined them as well.

“Most of the products you won’t find at large grocery stores.”

—Jill Collins, spokeswoman for Washington’s Metro Cooking Show

The 2012 Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show included food tastings, workshops, celebrity book signings and cooking demonstrations, and also featured an exhibit hall where vendors showcased the culinary world’s latest offerings.

Arlington-based culinary instructor Andie Nelson attended the show to scope out the latest in kitchen gadgets and gourmet food. “I spent some time talking to suppliers of organic foods and grocery delivery businesses and a lot of farm-to-family type places,” she said. “I am always looking for new sources for organic food, especially meats. It is hard to find humanely raised, antibiotic-free meats. It was good for me to connect with people to get original sources.”

Some of those original sources included a handful of Northern Virginia entrepreneurs, who were among nearly 400 exhibiters offering specialty goods ranging from bran oil to cake on a stick to food lovers like Nelson during the two-day event.

Mitra Krishnamoorthy of Surin Bran Oil in McLean saw the show as a chance to educate the public about rice bran oil which they say can help lower cholesterol. “People get to sample and try our oil right here,” she said.

THEN HUNGRY FOODIES followed the scent of savory meat wafting through the air, which led them to brothers Kevin and Cliff Logan of Logan Sausage in Alexandria. The duo doled out free sausage samples in an array of varieties from sweet Italian to spicy chorizo. “My dad started the company because he couldn’t find a good sausage in the area so he decided to create one,” said Kevin Logan.

Next it was time for dessert. Lynn Dysart, of A Bit More Sweets and Specialties in Springfield, makes all of her goodies in her home kitchen, and enjoyed sharing the story of her company’s origins along with her mini cakes. She always had a knack for baking and decided to follow her passion: “I made a couple of thing that I would always give to people and they would say ‘you should sell these.”

For many vendors, both the show and their businesses are family affairs. Barbara Taylor, who manned a booth with her granddaughter Rochelle Taylor, runs Watkins Home Products out of her Alexandria home. “We come to the show for the pleasure of sharing our organic flavorings, personal care and home care products with the public,” she said.

“Most of these products you won’t find at large grocery stores,” summed up show spokeswoman Jill Collins of Oak Hill. “We really try to bring in exhibiters that represent small businesses and specialty foods.”