WALLA WALLA - Three new food vendors took part in this year's Feast Walla Walla.
Phoumy Hormratsamy, owner of Phoumy's Thai Cuisine, 1528 E. Isaacs Ave., said that in her 22 years of owning and running a restaurant in the Tri-Cities, this was her first chance to participate in a food and wine event like Feast Walla Walla.
"I like it. I am going to come back again next year and do even better. Make even more," Hormratsamy said, with a heavy Thai accent, as she served her Phad Thai and cashew chicken to customers.
Two necessities to making good Phad Thai, she said, are the spices and fresh rice noodles.
Then she laughed when asked if she made the noodles herself.
"No. From Portland," she said.
The South Fork Grill also made a first appearance with a somewhat Thai dish.
Chef Nimal Amarasinghe created a green curry sauce that was served over grilled-on-the-spot halibut, as co-owner Jodi Worden helped serve the dish.
"I was nervous because we just opened up in September, and this is all still fairly new," Worden said.
The key to a good curry, Amarasinghe's said, is also the spices, along with fresh lemongrass, fresh ginger and fresh lime leaves.
He would go no further to list his secrets.
The third new food vendor was probably the one who has been cooking in the area the longest of three.
While the restaurant Graze - A Place To Eat has been open only about 18 months, owner John Graze has been running his catering business locally close to five years.
Last year, Graze said he got his first peek under the Feast Walla Walla tent.
"It just seemed a pretty cool event for visitor and Walla Walla residents ... And I thought I would want to do it this year. It looked like a really fun time. Unfortunately, I was off doing another catering event," he said.
Graze served two of the staples from the restaurant: a turkey and bacon panini, and an asparagus panini.
Since John Graze couldn't be there, he enlisted the help of Walla Walla Community College culinary arts student Nicole Hardin, who was in the overflow kitchen set up in the Banner Bank parking lot.
"I have been out here the whole time, but I don't mind. I like the hard work," Hardin said, as she grilled in the gusty wind.
About the only time she did mind was when the power went out.
"I learned it is harder to cook paninis without power," she joked.