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The Sporkful

8 Tips for Summer Food Festival Success

Originally aired: Friday, May 23, 2014

Food festivals can confer great rewards, but they also come with great peril. Choices abound -- but stomach space is limited. Craft a plan, execute it well, and you'll feel like the ruler of all you survey. Go in looking for Weapons of Mass Deliciousness with too many unknown unknowns and you could easily find yourself in a quagmire. I address this issue in depth in my forthcoming book, Eat More Better: How to Make Every Bite More Delicious, where I warn of the bad decisions one may make when shrouded in the Food Festival Fog of War. (Hint: Look to Sun Tzu's The Art of War for guidance.) Here are some tips based on my years of research and scholarship: Brussels sprouts from Tso Fried Chicken at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. 1. Do research before you go. You're reading this article, so that's a good start. But you want to know details about the particular festival in question. When does it open? What foods will be available? What's the layout? Where are bottlenecks likely to form? To quote Sun Tzu, The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Margarita pizza from Pizza Moto at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn Bridge Park. 2. Arrive early. Get there the minute the gates open, when lines are short and supplies at the stands are plentiful. Masala dosa from Dosa Royale at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn Bridge Park. 3. Survey all the options before you start spending money. The first rule of good buffet strategy applies here as well -- survey the scene! As Sun Tzu writes, He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Maple bacon sticks from Landhaus at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn Bridge Park. 4. Gather intelligence from other Eaters. See something on someone's plate that looks good? Find out where it's from and whether it tastes as good as it looks. Lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. 5. Understand line pacing. Is the food at a stand pre-made or made-to-order? The answer will have a big impact on how f

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