The Great GoogaMooga — what happened there? In two years there have been two festivals, both marred by notable difficulties. Is it really possible that no one planning the outdoor event checked the forecast for Sunday and wondere...
The Great GoogaMooga — what happened there? In two years there have been two festivals, both marred by notable difficulties. Is it really possible that no one planning the outdoor event checked the forecast for Sunday and wondered what the consequences of a modest rain shower might be? Were there successes achieved as well as disappointments? To gain a little perspective, Eater reached out to two-year festival veteran Carla Rzeszewski, the Wine Director of The Breslin, The John Dory Oyster Bar, and The Spotted Pig. What did she think of her GoogaMooga experience?
How did you get involved with the GoogaMooga last year?
Actually it was Paul Grieco who contacted me first. Paul emailed me and he said, "Hey, there is this festival going on and Peter Eastlake and I want you to be a part of it. You can do whatever you want." I hadn't heard about it and I had no idea what it was. I was like, "What kind of festival? Who is the audience? What is the scale of this thing?" They responded back and they said, "This has never been done. It is going to be the music of Bonnaroo, but bending it more towards the foodie culture in New York." Although, I think it would be applicable to other cities, and I have heard they might be looking at doing it in Chicago, which would be dope as hell. But anyway, they said, "You can do anything you want, we just want you to be a part of it." And I said, "Awesome, I want to do sherry." And they were like, "Yeah that would be great." So Paul was kind of the person who wrangled the wine people last year, and this year it was Tanner Walle, also of Hearth and Terroir. And I had known both of them from working with them before.
How did it go in the planning stages last year?
We got to sit down in a round table discussion and just sort of break down what the plan was for the wine tent. They were gracious enough to give me a booth and say, "Hey, do what you want." So I chose six sherries, and I did all Fino and Manzanilla. And then I flipped out literally the day before GoogaMooga last year. I was like, "Carla, what have you chosen to do? What are you doing pouring dry sherry at a music festival? No one is going to come and buy this, and you are responsible." So I was like, "I know what will convince people about these wines: they need to have food alongside them." Then I very last minute contacted Peter, and I said, "Peter, I need olives and I need almonds, can we do this?" And he said, "Carla, if you think it is going to work, yes." And it did work.
So you felt the GoogaMooga staff were supportive of what you wanted to do?
For sure. Amazingly supportive. Peter was like, "I don't know if this is going to be allowed in terms of the rules, because this is the wine tent, not the food tent, but you know what, fuck it. If you think it is important, let's just do it. We'll make it happen." He was awesome from the get-go, and totally open to feedback. Him and Jonathan Mayers. I've sat down with them both and the question has been, "How can we make this fantastic? How can we make this better than before?" They are not at all stuck in an idea of how it needs to be, and they are encouraging of new ideas. Peter called me this year, and he said, "Hey, do you want to be on one of these trading cards?" And I was like, "Yeah, let's do it!" So I go in to have my photo taken, and I was blown away by the level of invention and fun imagination in their office. The way that ideas were being tossed around, there was a childlike freedom that you rarely find.
What do you think about some of the problems that have come up in the two years that the event has been held?
It is a shame what happened the first year with the cell phone towers going down and the food shortages. And this year with the rain. There have been obstacles, but there are adjustments that can be made. I think that what was faulty last year was addressed this year, and unfortunately some other stuff also came up.