The main attraction? Restaurateur and Food Network star Bobby Flay, slated to demo a burger, onion rings, and milk shake. The event promises an odd balance of Food Network hosts strong on personality juxtaposed with purely local talent bringing serious culinary chops. So at the Serious Eats stage (named for Levine's blog), cotton-candy-haired, man-jewelry-sportin' TV host Guy Fieri is scheduled to demonstrate "Hong Kong Noodles," followed by A16's Nate Appleman in a meatball demo.
Other local luminaries: Chris Cosentino, Nancy Oakes of Boulevard along with her husband, sausage king Bruce Aidells, Charles Chocolates' Chuck Siegel, and -- in perhaps the fest's oddest appearance -- Berkeley organic jam maker June Taylor. It's hard to imagine Taylor in any context with the throwdown style of competitive cook-offs marquee attraction Flay is known for. One casualty of the local economy is oysters. Jeanty at Jack's, which closed unexpectedly last month, was slated to provide them. Organizers were unable to find a last-minute replacement.
Levine suggested that - unlike last year's Slow Food Nation in S.F. - the Great American Food and Music Fest has genuine populist appeal. "These are iconic American foods," Levin said. "Real, authentic, honest American food." Indeed, food providers read like a who's who of the unpretentious: Katz's Deli and Barney Greengrass from New York City, LA's Pink's Hot Dogs, Junior's cheesecake from Brooklyn, and Tony Luke's cheesesteaks from Philly.
"I think a lot of people who come to the festival won't be fully aware of how great this food is until they taste it and say, 'Holy shit, this is the best cheesesteak I've ever had in my life,'" Levine said. He acknowledged that the featured bands, including Little Feat, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Marshall Crenshaw, have unapologetic Boomer flavor. But Levine insisted the selection represented a "celebration of American music -- it's all of a piece with the food." (Full disclosure: SF Weekly is an event sponsors.)
The fest runs from 1-11 p.m., Shoreline Amphitheatre, One Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, 650-967-3000. Tickets range from $35, which gets you into the event and sets you up with one free plate of food, to $526 for a reserved seat up close, unlimited noshing, as well as access to a meet 'n' greet with Flay, Fieri, Little Feat, and more. Score tickets at LiveNation.com, Blockbuster Video stores, the Shoreline box office, or at the festival Web site.