When I first arrived in the District, I would often complain about the lack of quality restaurants and food at a variety of price points. Sure I love high-end cuisine more than most, but my most memorable meals haven’t always required that I spend my paycheck. During these times when I needed a foodie fix, I would hop in my car and head to Richmond or Baltimore. Although Washington has certainly filled this void, I still enjoy a day trip filled with all things food from time to time. Last spring was one of those times. Recently, I was able to talk with Sue-Jean Chun, one part of the mastermind duo behind The Emporiyum, a two-day artisanal market that will be at Union Market’s Maurice Electric space on November 15th and 16th for people passionate about all things food.
I was uber-excited to hear that The Emporiyum will be coming to the District on November 15th and 16th. I was lucky enough to attend The Emporiyum Baltimore and have kept in contact with some of the local participants like Jinji Chocolate. Due to the continued participation of major players, like Momofuku Milk Bar, Toki Underground/Maketto, Bryan Volttagio, Spike Gjerde, along with newcomers like Mike Isabella, ESK, and DGS, I take it that it was a success for all involved.
What was the impetus behind this culinary collective?
We were inspired by all the fantastic food events and gatherings happening across the country such as Smorgasburg and Super Duper Market by Paper Magazine. There are no other curated food experiences in the Mid-Atlantic, and we really wanted to engage a wonderful group of chefs, restaurants, and artisans that would not be expected to just shell out free food but sell the products they are passionate about and engage a crowd of food lovers. Our tagline is Eat. Meet. Shop. That’s exactly what we hope people do when they come to The Emporiyum.
How was the response to your initial event in Baltimore?
Baltimore was a wild success. Mindy, my business partner, and I both live in Baltimore and we knew that there had never been an event like The Emporiyum in Charm City. We had over 2500 attendees with a wait list of 1000. Baltimoreans tasted and shopped the entire weekend. Some event goers indulged in the great spring weather and took their food, such as Woodberry Kitchen’s fried chicken or Toki Underground’s ramen, and devoured it, picnic-style, right on the harbor by the water in Fell’s Point.
What can attendees of Emporiyum DC expect?
Similar to Baltimore, we’ve curated a fantastic group of 50:50: 50 percent of our participants are local to the DMV while the other 50 percent have traveled from all across the US to join us in DC. Attendees will have access to a unique “marketplace” that you can’t find anywhere else and saves you trips to Portland, Charleston, Brooklyn, Baltimore, and beyond. Our VIP tickets are almost sold out (VIP is held both Saturday and Sunday, 10am-11am.) VIPs enjoy a much more intimate, private experience as we limit the space to a small crowd that receives walk-around catering, early entry, plus incredible gift bags filled with amazing goods. All attendees will be able to try various samples and will get to walk around and Eat. Meet. Shop. With Thanksgiving just a week after The Emporiyum, we’re thrilled to have so many participants that will help make your Thanksgiving table a success. There will also be plenty of wonderful gifts that are perfect for the holidays.
What new things will you offer to patrons at Union Market?
The Emporiyum will take place in a new space in the Union Market district right on Penn Street NE in the Maurice Electric space. We’re thrilled to be debuting this new space to the patrons of Union Market as it’s something different than what folks have seen at Dock5 (the event space on the backside of Union Market.) The Emporiyum also brings about an entirely new and different group of chefs and artisans that you can’t find anywhere else.
I see that you are offering workshops. This sounds perfect for people like me who love to create culinary gems at home as well as frequent restaurants.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the classes that will be offered?
We’re partnering with the wonderful team at Dolcezza Gelato at their gorgeous factory space at 550 Penn Street NE, just steps from Union Market. We wanted to provide an interactive, intimate experience for those that are looking to spend more time with favorite chefs, artisans, and brands they love.
Allison Kave of Butter & Scotch and author of “First Prize Pies” will be doing a stellar pie demo that you won’t want to miss! Perfect for any Thanksgiving bakers! There are only five classes the entire weekend and space is very limited. Tickets are going fast!
I was lucky enough to score a seat for the Toki Underground x East Side King mashup earlier this year. What will Paul Qui and ESK be providing at the event? Are there any national names/brands that you think Washingtonian foodies will quickly embrace?
Paul Qui and East Side King will be bringing some delicious dishes to DC and we’re excited to have them traveling all the way from Austin to join us. Other national names that we know Washingtonians will love outside of all the stellar local DC brands include Momofuku Milk Bar (especially after chef David Chang’s recent announcement that he’s bringing Momofuku and Milk Bar to DC!), Mast Brothers Chocolate, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Black Seed Bagels, Quin Candy, Bittermilk, Bellocq Teas, and many more.
How many total vendors do you plan to have?
Will this be a recurring event for Washingtonians and beyond?
Yes, we hope so!
Take it from me, the Baltimore event was evangelical for the epicurious and I have no doubt that The Emporiyum in Washington, DC will be bigger and better. Make sure you grab your tickets fast before the event sells out.