The EmporiYUM Food Market: A New Taste of the DMV

BY: ALEXIS ARNOLD

Washington, D.C. — The smell of food wafts into your nostrils as you walk under the orange entrance tent. Kitschy string lights criss-cross the room and the walls of the neighboring warehouse are covered with colorful pop art that doubles as a perfect Instagram photo-op. The '90s pop and soft electro playlist set the mood for an awesome day of food and fun.

On November 12 and November 13, artisans from across the DMV area came together for an amazing display of local food and flavors called the The EmporiYUM in D.C.'s NoMa neighborhood. This biannual event at Union Market brings together the best of local mid-Atlantic vendors and chefs and producers from all over the country to convene at the food marketplace. Attendees can try samples and purchase products to take home with them or eat meals at the venue. 

As I went from booth to booth, I spoke with two sellers who combined their culture with culinary arts.

Route 11 Chips

Rochelle “Rocky” Scott — salesperson for Route 11 Chips marketing department

What is Route 11 Chips?

Route 11 Chips is a woman-owned potato chip factory that specializes in manufacturing kettle cooked potato chips. In 1992, Sarah Cohen started her business in a small shack off Route 11 in Middletown, Virginia. After talking about the history, Scott also mentioned that she is proud to work for one of the most sustainable companies on East coast. 

Favorite flavor of potato chips?

Scott said that the chip she eats usually depends on the meal she is eating. For example, she will pair barbecue chips with a burger or the Chesapeake crab with a tuna fish sandwich. Although her preference may change, she maintains that the classic combination of salt and vinegar will always be her go-to chip.  

How did your culture and/or background influence your passion? 

Scott has spent over 30 years in the food industry and says that, as a woman of color, she feels passionate about continuing to encourage other people of color to eat a healthier snack food that still has great flavors. 

Zesty Z

Alexander Harik —  Co-Founder of Zesty Z

What is Zesty Z?

Zesty Z is a Mediterranean spread adapted from a family recipe. The main ingredients are virgin olive oil and za’atar, a type of thyme from the Middle East. 

What was the inspiration for this company?

Za’atar has been popular in the Middle East for some time, but Harik said that he noticed it had started trending in the western food industry. The difference was that people here were using it as a dried spice instead of as a spread like the kind his mother used at home. He came to the conclusion that if people liked hummus then they would love za’atar, so he and his mother decided to bring it to market. 

How did your culture and/or background influence your passion? 

Because Harik’s mom worked full time while he was growing up, eating together became an important part of family time. He noted that Lebanese culture values family meals very highly, and, furthermore, Lebanese people really pride themselves on their food. So, it's no surprise that he wants to share a delicious part of his culture with the world. 

Like many other college students, my friend and I were on a budget and spent most of the day trying free samples besides buying a dumpling or two. After lots of tasting, we compiled a list of the artisan small businesses that had our tastebuds’ seal of approval:

Look out for the next time EmporiYUM comes around. This delicious day out in the city is not one to be missed. 

All photos and gifs taken by the author, unless otherwise noted. 

Jenna CaldwellComment