FoodLocal BusinessSportsWilliam J. Ford

DMV Food Vendors Vie for WFT Contract at FedEx Showcase

The aroma of oxtail spring rolls drizzled with a sauce similar to ketchup mixed with hot sauce made by Kitchen Cray from northeast D.C. wafted through the air, while several people devoured a sample of seafood gumbo from EllaRay’s Café of District Heights, Maryland.

The dishes were just a few of the dozens prepared by chefs and culinary entrepreneurs Monday during a Flavor of the DMV Showcase at FedEx Field in Landover. The Washington Football Team hosted the event, at which one of the 22 participants will be selected as an official game-day vendor for the team’s 2021 season.

“I really hope I’m one of the selected few,” said Cleavon “Clay” Morris, chef and owner of The Tropical Express based in Clinton.

“It’s motivational to be around these guys,” said Morris, who turns 30 later this month. “Just to be in this position where people tell me my food tastes good, I’m just happy.”

Cleavon "Clay" Morris, chef and owner of The Tropical Express, describes his dishes on display during the Flavors of the DMV Showcase hosted by the Washington Football Team at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, on June 14. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Cleavon “Clay” Morris, chef and owner of The Tropical Express, describes his dishes on display during the Flavors of the DMV Showcase hosted by the Washington Football Team at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, on June 14. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

It’s unclear when a winner would be announced, but the Washington organization wanted to ensure a community vendor became part of the team’s eight home games starting with the season opener Sept. 12 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

“It’s the first time the team has ever done anything like this,” said Joey Colby-Begovich, vice president of guest experience. “It’s part of our larger effort to bring more community elements into the stadium and the gameday experience.”

The Shell Shack Seafood, which operates a food truck with a patio in downtown Silver Spring, established its operation in April 2020. The company entered the competition about one hour before the deadline, thanks to a customer sending an Instagram link.

“Thank God for the customer,” said Nicole Watson, director of operations for The Shell Shack. “No two days are ever the same in our business, which makes it so very interesting.”

Some of the taste-testers included season-ticket holders, two executive chefs and former Washington players. Each person received six tokens to place in a box to help choose a particular vendor.

According to the judging rules, participants will be evaluated on food or product quality, including taste, appearance and texture, ease of prep and service, overall presentation, uniqueness of the product, and connections to the DMV.

In the event of a tie, the head chef for Levy Hospitality Group will be the tiebreaker.

A few vendors in attendance operate outside the D.C. region, including South Mountain Creamery in Middletown, Frederick County, which delivers its homemade ice cream and other products to various businesses in the area. Several people walked to the creamery’s table to guzzle some 12-ounce raspberry lemonade.

Former Washington Football Team players Rick "Doc" Walker (left) and Fred Smoot sample food at the Flavors of the DMV Showcase hosted by the team at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, on June 14. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Former Washington Football Team players Rick “Doc” Walker (left) and Fred Smoot sample food at the Flavors of the DMV Showcase hosted by the team at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, on June 14. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Former Washington tight end Rick “Doc” Walker didn’t speak for about 35 seconds after taking a bite of a plant-based sausage from Everything Legendary of Largo. He even swayed side to side while chewing.

“I stand by my product, man,” yelled Duane Cheers, president and CEO of Everything Legendary. “This food makes you dance.”

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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