Carmel couple plans Fantastic Food Fest


By Mark Ambrogi

Fantastic Food Fest planners and Carmel residents, Leslie and Jason Swathwood. (Submitted photo)
Fantastic Food Fest planners and Carmel residents, Leslie and Jason Swathwood. (Submitted photo)

Leslie Swathwood and her husband Jason have long wanted to hold a food show.

“We’ve been producing consumer shows for over 20 years,” Leslie Swathwood said. “We’ve produced hundreds of consumer events. We just haven’t done this specific show. It’s something we’ve been researching and planning on it for at least three years.”

The Fantastic Food Fest will be held over 75,000 square feet of indoor space at the Indiana State Fairgrounds from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Jan. 16-17. The Swathwoods, who have lived in Carmel since 1998, are the owners of Circle City Expos.

The Swathwoods have presented bridal and health shows. Leslie said the timing wasn’t right in the past for the food show for consumers.

“We had the recession for quite a few years,” Leslie said. “Then the food scene in greater Indianapolis has changed a lot. We’re finally feel it’s a place where not only the city in the greater area is ready but the consumers are ready. Food is very much in demand. There is a lot of consumers were food is just substance and that’s not our demographic. We’re looking for people who have a great appreciation for trying different things. They want to cook at home. They want to entertain. They want to try new restaurants. They’re really looking to expand their knowledge.”

There will be 20 live demonstrations at the show.

Among the guests will be Ted Allen, a 1984 Carmel High School graduate who is the host of Food Network’s “Chopped.”

Hugh Atcheson, a judge on Top Chef, and  Loreal Gavin, known as “The Butcher Babe.” Gavin, who works at Kincaid’s Meat Market in Indianapolis, has been a contestant on Food Network shows.

Indiana Grown serves as a presenting sponsor. Leslie said there will be more than 100 Indiana Grown  members who will have exhibits and booths.

“They’ll get to meet some of the people that are making these products,” Leslie said.

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