Best of the Metro Cooking Show

By Rina Rapuano, Photo by Elizabeth Parker

Our CityEats team spent the weekend eating and Tweeting our way through the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown D.C. Hundreds of vendors set up shop on the convention floor, and there were several cooking demonstrations, celebrity book signings and intimate workshops that were both informative and fun. Here, we give you a rundown of the weekend, superlative style, so you can judge for yourself whether you should attend next year’s event. (The correct answer: “Yes, you should.”) And the categories are …

Most ransacked booth: District Doughnut. Samples of miniature PBJ and brown butter doughnuts, an urn of coffee and a prime location at the entrance combined for an early sell-out for this sweet-tooth booth.

Best holiday gift idea: A copy of Giada De Laurentiis’ “Weeknights With Giada” cookbook signed by the friendly and stylish author herself.

Most coveted pretty things: The brightly patterned, non-iron, eco-friendly cloth napkins from The Folded Napkin, such as these, and the olive-wood bowls sold by Secolari [www.secolari.comcastbiz.net] in Bethesda Row. Oh, and the gorgeous, custom-made leather knife rolls from Leather-Worker.com.

Best way to get your afternoon buzz: Food-and-beer-pairing workshop with The Food Network’s Jeff Mauro (“Sandwich King” and “$24 in 24”) and local beer guru Greg Engert of Birch & Barley/ChurchKey. Mauro provided beer-cheese soup, pretzel jalapeno dogs, sopressata crostini and smoky salted-caramel chocolate whoopee pies, all expertly paired with amazing and interesting beers.

Most star-struck moment: Meeting Jacques Pepin and daughter Claudine. If you ever get a chance to meet them, do it.

Most bummed that I missed: The CityEats “Top Chef” reception with two of the show’s regular judges, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons. I had to leave before it started, and I won’t rest till I have another opportunity to meet them.

Biggest surprise: Just how fun the Celebrity Theater cooking demos turned out to be. We caught the hilarious Jeff Mauro; kind and generous Giada De Laurentiis; and the wine-fueled comedy of Jacques Pepin and daughter Claudine. All were dynamic, gracious, educational, philosophical and downright inspirational.