TamlFest_logoTamalFest DC—Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Tamal?

[ta’mal]: a delicious mix of meat or vegetables and spices, wrapped in a blanket of corn meal, rice or potato.

But when we say “tamal” we are also talking about hallacas, chuchitos, humitas, bollos, pasteles dominicanos or puertorriqueños, and similar dishes enjoyed for centuries throughout Mexico, El Salvador, the rest of Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.

What is TamalFest DC?

“TamalFestDC” is a community festival and cooking contest. Like a lot of what we do at Hola Cultura, the idea is to bring people together around our shared culture—in this case a tasty dish found, in one form or another, throughout the Americas.

We want to showcase the incredible diversity of Washington’s Latino community, so if you are a skilled maker of tamales, hallacas, chuchitos, humitas, bollos, pasteles dominicanos or puertorriqueños, or other similar dishes, apply now!

Share your traditions or put your culinary gifts to the test!

When and where is the TamalFest taking place?

Sunday, April 19, 5 to 8 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Church in Columbia Heights
St. Stephen’s is located at 1525 Newton Street NW, Washington, DC 20010

Who can participate?

Community and professional cooks of all types, as well as school groups, youth organizations and community service organizations—anyone really!

We’re looking for individual cooks and cooking teams interested in building our community—in this case through cooking and sharing a meal together.

Will there be prizes?

Yes. People’s Choice Awards will go to the crowd favorites in two categories: Community participants—both teams and individual cooks—and commercial participants such as professional chefs, caterers, and restaurant operators.
There will also be prizes and recognition. Everyone who competes will be featured on Hola Cultura’s popular online site, www.holacultura.com, and on the Electric Llama website (www.electric-llama.com), our online partner for this event. The People’s Choice Award winners will receive an additional front-page spread on Hola Cultura following the contest.

Will professional and amateur chefs compete against each other?

No.  Culinary professionals licensed by the DC Department of Health will compete in the commercial category. Everyone else will compete in the community category.

Are there rules?

Yes, click here to see the TamalFest rules.

How can I sign up?

You can download an application form. Or contact Hola Cultura and apply now!

By phone: 202-722-0335
By email: holacultura@gmail.com

How will you ensure that many different types of tamales are including in the festival?

SPACE IS LIMITED! Since we want to include as many different types of this pan-American dish as possible, spots will be limited for each of the countries represented. So don’t wait! Apply now!

How will the tamal tastings work?

Here’s how it will work: The public will purchase tickets. Each ticket will be good for one tamal of the person’s choosing, as long as supplies last.

Members of the public will be invited visit each table first to sample the different tamales, before choosing which tamal to exchange for a ticket.

How will the People’s Choice Awards be selected?

By popular vote

Every ticketholder will be given a ballot when they arrive and can cast a vote in each category.

The ballots will be collected in a tamperproof box and tallied at the end of the evening, when the tamales receiving the most votes will be announced.

How many tamales or portions must each cook or cooking team bring?

Each participating community team, cook, chef, caterer, or restaurateur will bring between 30-50 tamales (or in the case of large tamales such as the Nicaraguan tamales, enough for 30-50 portions).

Keep in mind that this includes both tasting portions and whole tamales to be exchanged for tickets. Participating cooks can either bring a number of smaller tasting portions and the rest as full-sized tamales. Or participates may cut up some of their full-sized tamales into tasting-sized portions, to give the public a chance to sample before making decisions about which tamal to exchange for their ticket.

What if my favorite tamal runs out before I can use my ticket?

Each ticket is good for one tamal on a first-come; first serve basis only.

Organizers make no guarantee that you will get your first choice, so if you known you already have a strong preference, make sure you come soon after we get started! The TamalFest starts at 5 p.m. and goes until 8 p.m. on Sun., April 19.

Will anything else be served at the TamalFest?

While the tamales will be the main attraction, Hola Cultura will provide beverages and accompaniments. Check back later for a full menu.

Is there a cost to participate?

Professional cooks will pay a non-refundable $25 table fee.

There is no charge for cooks and teams competing in the community category.

Can I sell additional tamales or other food at the TamalFest?

Licensed vendors may bring additional items for sale, such as tamales that the public could by to take home.  Prices may not exceed $4 per item.  Vendors assume all responsibility for collecting and reporting sales tax, providing receipts, etc.

Is there financial help to cover the ingredient costs?

We will have a small pool of funds available to help community participants pay for ingredients. If you need financial assistance to enter the competition, please call us at 202-722-0335 or email us at holacultura@gmail.com.

How will participating in the TamalFest help my cooking career or business?

For professional and aspiring chefs, restaurant operators, and caterers, competing in the TamalFest will not only give you the satisfaction of sharing you cultural traditions, it’s a great way to promote your business.

Everyone who competes will receive special attention on Hola Cultura’s popular online site, www.holacultura.com, and from our online partner for this event, the Electric Llama website (www.electric-llama.com). And you can promote your business with an estimated 200 guests at the Tamalfest, handing out promotional brochures and your business cards. Licensed businesses can also sell additional food items.

MEDIA COVERAGE: In the weeks leading up to the TamalFest, our team of reporters, photographers and videographers will produce original interviews with each of the TamalFest participant. We will post a detailed profile about you, your business, along with your website, logo, location, and contact information. People’s Choice Award winners will receive additional front-page coverage on Hola Cultura and the Electric Llama following the event, as well as prizes, certificates, and other recognition for their award winning tamales. Hola Cultura will also contact members of the English- and Spanish-language news media and carry out a media relations campaign geared toward receiving coverage in Washington-area newspapers, radio stations and TV news shows.

Are you looking for sponsors for the TamalFest?

Yes. If you would like to support the Tamalfest by becoming a sponsor, we’d like to hear from you too!

Please give us a call at 202-722-0335 or email Executive Director Alberto Roblest at holacultura@gmail.com. Please include “Sponsor Inquiry” in the subject line.

How much are tickets?

$10 per ticket at the door
$8 per ticket purchased before the event
$30 family ticket for family of four

How can I purchase tickets?

Contact us at 202-722-0335 or holacultura@gmail.com to place your ticket order.

We may also add online ticket purchases. Stay tuned for details!

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