GastroMagic and Other Food Fantasylands Take Center Stage at Outside Lands Festival

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Outside Lands. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Outside Lands. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Move over Kanye West and make way for beignets.  At this year’s Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park (Aug 8-10), celebrated chefs, mixologists and even butchers will take center stage just like the musical talent.

An idea concocted by the festival’s directors to bring their fantastical food and music mash-up to the next level, “GastroMagic” is a new area dedicated to performances that spotlight the culinary culture and creativity of the Bay Area and beyond. Located in the woods of MacLaren Pass, GastroMagic will include a brand new stage, seating area and a lounge for watching, eating and kicking back with a cocktail from local watering holes like 15 Romolo, The Alembic, The Homestead, and the East Bay’s Hotsy Totsy.

Although they may be wielding spatulas and cocktail shakers instead of guitars and maracas, make no mistake – the GastroMagic stage will feature rock star caliber talent including celebrity chef Chris Cosentino, Michelin-starred Christopher Kostow, Evan Rich of San Francisco’s beloved Rich Table restaurant, wine phenom Paul Grieco and beer maven Dave McLean, among others. Musicians, comedians and improv artists will also be on hand as part of the gastro-tainment, and there will even be a tasting table for a few lucky fans to sample some of the delicacies whipped up on stage.

But if you don’t arrive early enough to snag a spot at the tasting table, fear not: GastroMagic will also be the home of BaconLand, a new area that makes my mouth water just writing about it. Think flights of bacon from top-notch purveyors including the Bay Area’s Fatted Calf and Benton Bacon from Tennessee. And if your arteries can take it, Cowgirl Creamery is throwing some cheese into the mix to create grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches; an offer my taste buds may not be able to refuse.

GastroMagic at Outside Lands. Photo: Courtesy of Outside Lands
GastroMagic! Photo: Courtesy of Outside Lands

Here are a few of the GastroMagic events that piqued our interest. View the complete line-up and schedule for GastroMagic at the Outside Lands website.


Flavor Tripping Food Science with Chris Jones
Hampton Creek chef and former Top Chef contestant Chris Jones changes food’s molecular anatomy and flavor profile, and talks the future of food technology.


Offal Good Music with Chris Cosentino
Award-winning chef Chris Cosentino teams up with a musician to discuss the creative process of food and music.

Chocolate Gold Rush with Holy Ghost! and Guittard Chocolate Company
A party for the senses ensues with Holy Ghost! spinning and Donald Wressell of Guittard Chocolate Company creating a masterpiece on stage.


Beignets & Bounce Brunch with Big Freedia and Brenda’s French Soul Food
A New Orleans style brunch like no other, Big Freedia shakes and bounces all over the stage and audience members who answer her call to twerk will be awarded with beignets.

BBQ & Drank featuring Lewis Black, Dave McLean, Paul Grieco, Andie Ferman & Southpaw BBQ
A tasting panel led by comedian Lewis Black will determine which goes best, beer, wine or bourbon, with Southpaw BBQ’s creations.


Breakdown Breakdance: Fatted Calf vs. Avedano’s
Fatted Calf competes against female butchery shop Avedano’s to break down a pig while professional dancers break dance on stage.

Food Fight: Marlowe vs Park Tavern, Hosted by Craig Robinson
With a game show inspired format, Craig Robinson hosts as sister restaurants Marlowe and Park Tavern compete against one another in kitchen challenges and trivia

Mezcal Mambo Limbo
A discussion of mezcal is amplified by a troupe of mambo dancers and a limbo contest.

Beyond GastroMagic

While GastroMagic takes the cake as the most noteworthy addition to this year’s food and drink line-up, don’t forget about the other 200 menu items, 100 wines and more than 50 beers that will grace the grassy meadows and wooded groves of this food and music fantasyland.

Like readers of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel, festival goers direct their own experience. Will you head west to listen to The Killers, or east to check out the Chvrches? Hike over to Cheese Lands or meander around the bend to Choco Lands? Traverse the meadow for a pint of Mt. Tam Pale Ale or duck into Wine Lands for a glass of Cannonball merlot? Empanadas, bratwurst, or chicken curry nachos? Or will you just spend the entire day eating bacon at GastroMagic?

Choco Lands. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Choco Lands. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

The decisions can be daunting, a map is a must and like everything else about your Outside Lands adventure, the choice is all yours.

Other new and noteworthy additions to Outside Lands this year include:

More cheese. Cheese Lands is expanding to include four “cheese bar” stations with new varieties and wine pairings, and opportunities to learn about the wonders of cheese from master mongers.

Mobile goes local.  In place of the usual hot dog vendors, mobile carts stocked with delicacies crafted by Bay Area artisans will rove the festival grounds.  Think savory nibbles from Alicia’s Tamales and the Butcher’s Daughter, and made-to-order flavored cotton candy from Sugar and Spun.

Scooped, Fried and Flipped
Always inventive and invariably delectable, San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe ice cream will be on hand this year to dole out their sophisticated scoops (have you tried their Boccalone Prosciutto flavor?). Taste of the Bay curator, Ari Feingold, is also fired up about the debut of vendors like high-end restaurant AQ (dishing up “high brow spaghetti”) and more low-key Indian Street food purveyor, Curry Up Now. Other newcomers like the Beast and the Hare will be grilling lamb and shrimp, while Proposition Chicken will be frying and flipping free-range birds to make savory sandwiches. With every new menu item, Feingold says he tries to build a more complete representation of the Bay Area’s culinary diversity in terms of flavors, styles and price-points.

Beer Lands. Wendy Goodfriend
Beer Lands. Wendy Goodfriend

Double the Kegs
Jumping the number of breweries from 16 to 30, the offerings at Beer Lands this year reflects the growth of the craft beer movement in northern California. Bay Area additions include Faction from Alameda and San Francisco based Headlands Brewery, among others. Strongbow Hard Apple Cider and Ace Cider will also be on tap, rounding out the refreshments curated by Magnolia Brewery owner, Dave McClean. And if you are looking to stave off the effects of the bone chilling fog that descends on the park each evening, McClean suggests a mug of Highwater’s Campfire Stout, which he describes as “a warm s’more in a beer.”

Wine Lands. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Wine Lands. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Perfect Pairings
The 36-winery line-up will include some lesser known, top-notch labels like Sean Thackrey and Paperboy from Healdsburg, whose wines are packaged in eco-friendly paper bottles. Another newcomer, Olivia Brion, is the one to drink if you’re going to watch Nocona perform; the wine is cultivated on the family property of band member Annie Rothschild. As always, there are countless options when it comes to music and wine pairings. Wine Land’s curator, stellar sommelier Peter Eastlake offers a few suggestions to get you started:

Big Freedia and Scharffenberger Brut Rose

“Nothing makes a crowd wanna' bounce like tiny pink bubbles and Big Freedia's incredible show.”

Tom Petty and Joseph Phelps Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

“These icons deserve each other. There's a spiciness about both Petty and Napa Valley Cabernet, pure and simple.”


The Killers and Sean Thackrey Pleiades

“These guys shoot for the stars when they hit the stage. An astronomical combination.”