LOS ANGELES There’s yet another recently announced culinary festival joining the Los Angeles food event scene—but this one has a distinct twist. Created by the food tech entity the Infatuation (which has a website, newsletter, mobile app, and text referral service), the new Eeeeeatscon is made for Instagrammers, and for Instagram.
The new, ticketed event, slated for Santa Monica's Barker Hangar on May 20, will feature big-name participants such as chef Nancy Silverton and music-industry talent agent and Hollywood executive Shep Gordon. Local restaurants and vendors on board include the first Eataly on the West Coast, as well as Shake Shack and others. The Knocks will headline the festival along with a music performance by Lizzo, creating an atmosphere where millennials can gather to fete the intersection of food, music, and pop culture.
“This festival is all about community—much in the way that the social-media platforms themselves have connected like-minded people around the world, we want Eeeeeatscon to be a place where people who are passionate food and restaurants can connect with each other,” said Infatuation co-founder Chris Stang.
While other festivals, such as the Los Angeles Times' newly announced Food Bowl, lay claim to community-building as a key facet of programming, Stang said that interactivity and participation are among the fest’s additional distinctive components. “We want it to be far more interactive than the typical food festival, so you won't see chefs doing cooking demos to a large room full of people, but instead moments around the festival where attendees can engage with speakers, panelists, and restaurants, and ideally try something, learn something, or get inspired,” he said. “At its core, Eeeeeatscon is meant to be exciting but informal, and built for people to explore their passions beyond the smartphone screen.”
So how will the Infatuation build a food event around the very concept of Instagram? Well, first, Stang said, “Across the event, there will be areas and installations set up with the sole purpose of creating shareable moments. We'll be utilizing local L.A. artists and designers to build photo walls, Boomerang rooms [set up for the video app], and other creative activations that people can participate in, with or without food in hand.”
Beyond that, the food will be made as much for its visual, sharable appeal as for taste. “Our main concern is that the food tastes good, but we're confident it will all look good too,” Stang said. And it will be convenient for fans to share: “Many of our social activations will be next to or very near the food vendors, so the plan is that people can quickly take photos near where the food is served.”
Although this event is new on the calendar, live events have always been central to the Infatuation's community-engagement approach. “We've always been passionate about connecting with our audience offline and in person,” Stang said. “Having worked for more than a decade in the music business before we started Infatuation full time, we are very comfortable with the live events and festival space. ... Events have always been part of what we do; this one just happens to be the biggest and most ambitious to date.”