Cultivate Festival Makes an Entertaining, Tasty Look At The Future

By John Cloutman
Photography by Brian Wong

The Chipotle Cultivate Festival pulled into town Saturday, June 8 at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, bringing their unique approach to the convergence of food, music art, and forward-looking ideas. The event bills itself as “A Festival that brings together farmers, chefs, thought leaders, artists, musicians, and participants like you, on a journey towards a world of more sustainable, wholesome and delicious food”. At GEV Magazine we pride ourselves on having uniquely merged the food, wine and fashion industries in a way no one else has. Here, Cultivate has executed perfectly on a similar theme – convergence of interdependent disciplines towards a brighter future for all, in an entertaining and thought-provoking way. Also, Cultivate did a very adept job at striking a delicate balance between corporate sponsorship and the more extreme, anti-establishment sentiments of many who seek to invoke change at a perhaps unrealistic pace. That’s quite a job and we tip our hats to Chipotle for their ability to navigate that terrain so adroitly.

The weather at Golden Gate Park was cool and breezy, while most every other location in Northern California that day was setting records for heat, so this made for a wonderfully refreshing retreat, and attendance was huge. The crowd was stylish, upbeat, and “connected”. There were events for all ages, too. Kids were having a blast creating art on the big blackboard, playing games in the arcade which were designed to highlight ethical farming practices, and making their own t-shirts. Food lovers were attending the demonstrations by Richard Blais, Nate Appleman, Amanda Freitag, Ludo LeFebvre, Michael Chiarello and others. There were great demonstrations which were tailored a bit like a game – we got to see and taste how Tabasco was made, courtesy of the McIlhenny Company – it was tailored like a grown-up version of the Cinnamon Challenge; you earned a silver spoon if you were brave enough to take a taste of the Tabasco mash they were showing. The Tabasco was actually delicious and as long as you didn’t try to take a heaping tablespoon of it, you’d get a warm sensation of the pepper without being overwhelmed. There were demonstrations on sustainable and ethical farming.  There were tasty gorditas, a good selection of wine and beer and delicious treats from Big Gay Ice Cream which, in San Francisco was a natural hit, though regardless of its name it should be a big hit anywhere. Attendees were given a map with a stamp book and if they visited enough of the booths and got their books stamped, they were rewarded with a free burrito. And then there was the music.

All the musicians at Cultivate were really chosen wisely and complimented the atmosphere of the day perfectly. Despite my own experience as a musician, I’d not heard of any of these artists until a few days before the event. I guess I need to start keeping my ears on the tracks because there’s clearly a trainload of great new music coming down the line now, and it was so refreshing to hear some of it at Cultivate. Though all the bands really pleased the crowd and had great original and compelling material to make us all sing and dance and smile, my personal favorite was LP. I think she and her band stole the show yesterday, frankly. LP’s voice was simply unbelievable.  She’s spent the last 15 years honing her chops as a songwriter and has written hits for others like Rihanna and Christina Aguilera. I have enormous respect for artists who create original material and have great talent as a musician or singer, and LP earned my highest respect for her songwriting and style of delivery. She’s a real dynamo in a small package. Her voice carried through the park like a siren and it must have been impossible for anyone to ignore her performance that afternoon.

All in all the Cultivate Festival was a huge success. We at GEV are looking forward to next year’s lineup and those of you who are next on the schedule for the festival – Denver and Chicago, get ready for a great day filled with fun, food, ideas, and great music!

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Chef Amanda Freitag with the Chipotle Cultivate Crew 

Chef Nate Appleman Interview

Chef Richard Blais with Big Gay Salted Caramel Ice Cream

The Fashion of Cultivate Festival San Francisco

The Music of Cultivate Festival San Francisco