Each year, the American Lamb Board hosts a fun competition called “Lamb Jam” in five cities around the US. For the competition, chefs from that city come together to see who can create the best lamb dish. A winner is chosen from each city, and then all the winning chefs compete at the country-wide Lamb Jam competition, which is being held in New York City later this year.
I was lucky enough to get invited to attend the Lamb Jam DC event for free this past Sunday, and I even got to attend a VIP “Curriculamb: Lamb 101” event on Friday night to drum up excitement for Sunday’s main competition. Both events were an absolute blast, and I’m already excited to go back next year!
Here’s my (very picture-heavy) recap!
Friday night’s VIP event “Curriculamb: Lamb 101”
On Friday evening, Fabio and I headed over to the beautiful Occidental Grill right by the White House for the VIP lamb tasting. We hadn’t done much research about the event, but as soon as we walked up to the gorgeous courtyard behind the Occidental, we knew the evening was definitely going to surpass our expectations.
The first thing we saw was a giant charcoal grill heating up, which was a good sign.
Then I met Marc, a super friendly French butcher from the Four Seasons, who introduced me to his lamb.
Here he is explaining that the lamb is a female around 4 or 5 months old, who came from a farm in Pennsylvania.
Having grown up with sheep in my back yard, this was a little hard for me because all I could think about was my favorite sheep, Curly.
Luckily, I was able to put my sadness aside for the sake of a fantastic culinary experience! 😉
After talking with butcher Marc, Fabio and I popped by the open bar to try one of the evening’s signature drinks, the “lambtastic libation” made with strawberries, apple vinegar, jalepeno, thyme syrup, club soda, and rum. Delicious! Then we snagged a seat at a table by the fountain (and, conveniently, the bar) and waited for the main event to begin!
While we waited, we perused through our “curriculamb,” a helpful guide about how to cook lamb, different cuts of lamb, what wine to pair with it, and more.
We also each received meat thermometers and aprons that said “I <3 Lamb.” How cool!
Soon enough Marc the butcher began his demonstration, and I did my best not to think of Curly. Yikes.
While Marc the butcher was doing his thing, servers began to bring around lamb hors d’oeuvres including a delicious lamb patty and a serving of a rack of lamb.
This is how Fabio eats an hors d’oeuvre by the way. One bite!
To be honest I didn’t eat much lamb before this event, except in the occasional gyro or meatball. As soon as the lamb dishes started coming around, I realized it was a really mild meat – similar to beef – but a little more rich/gamey. I was definitely a fan of lamb! 🙂
Then the two guest chefs of the evening, former Lamb Jam winners Chef Rodney Scruggs and Chef Nemo Bolin, came out and started serving their signature lamb dishes! We wound up having two dishes from each former winner: one dish that had won a Lamb Jam competition in the past, and a new lamb dish.
First up was an amazing lamb sandwich on buttery bread with goat cheese, arugula, and a strawberry compote.
I absolutely love sweet and salty foods (um, and goat cheese, hello!) so this was right up my alley! I think this may have been my favorite dish of the evening!
Next up was a Scotch egg, which for those who don’t know (I didn’t) is a soft egg with a fried coating made of ground meat.
When I cut into my egg I saw that it was cooked perfectly, as was everyone else’s around me. In addition to being impressed by how well the egg was cooked, I was also totally puzzled about how one actually makes a Scotch egg. How do you coat the egg in the meat mixture?? Mysteries.
It was delicious though!
After that, Chef Nemo and Chef Rodney started grilling up the lamb that Marc the butcher had just cut up. Everyone was getting a little tipsy at this point from the open bar, and the atmosphere of the event was just so much fun. The chefs were joking around with one another while they were cooking, and everyone was smiling and laughing during the entire grilling demonstration.
Once the meat was cooked, Chef Rodney took it right off the grill so Chef Nemo could get it into the next dish.
Up next: warm flatbread with grilled lamb and pickled carrots.
This dish was another winner, and I also loved that they brought out a suggested beer to pair it with. So good!
Our last dish of the evening was more grilled lamb with an avocado cous cous and berry compote. Yum!
At this point I was absolutely stuffed (I definitely couldn’t finish everything) but I was also totally on cloud nine. We wound up making good friends with the other guests at our table, so while we ate we laughed a lot and enjoyed a nice wine buzz. Plus we were outside on a gorgeous Friday night in May, so what could be better? It was so much fun!
Before we left, I made sure to snag a picture with Chef Nemo, as well as a pound of ground lamb that we got to take home.
Don’t mind if I do!
Overall it was SUCH a fun event, and I’m truly looking forward to going back next year. Tickets to the VIP event typically cost $100 per person, and I have to say it was SO worth it for all that we got!
Sunday’s Lamb Jam DC Competition
You would think I’d be all lambed out after Friday’s event, but somehow on Sunday Fabio and I made our way over to Union Market (right in our new hood!) for the Lamb Jam DC competition.
When we arrived we walked into a very open space that was bordered on all sides by top chefs in DC who had all made their best lamb dishes for the competition.
We then walked around and tried a ton of different lamb dishes from different chefs.
I think I was a little too lambed out for this event, because normally I would have taken vigorous notes about what food came from where, and which ones were my favorite so I could vote accurately. Instead, Fabio and I meandered around and casually tasted lamb dishes from many chefs, without going too crazy. We didn’t wind up trying all of them, but the ones we did have were quite delicious!
There were also beer and wine vendors present where you could try drinks that pair well with lamb. My favorite was an Old Bay Summer Ale from Flying Dog. Oh man, that beer is going to be so good for summer.
After tasting all the lamb we could handle, Fabio and I headed home (but not before grabbing some adorable lamb cookies and cake pops!).
This event was definitely a lot of fun, and for $60 a ticket it’s a little more affordable than the VIP tasting.
Overall I had a blast at both events, and would 100% recommend them to the foodies out there. Don’t forget – this event takes place in five cities around the US including San Francisco, Austin, New York, and Boston. Definitely check it out!
*Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored in any way, although I was granted free admission to both events (plus a guest). All opinions are my own. Thank you, as always, for your support.*
Question of the day: Do you like lamb?