The first food event I've ever attended happened just before my first year in Portugal came to a close. It was Peixe em Lisboa (Fish in Lisbon, literally) or Lisbon Fish & Flavours.
I was introduced to the event by Mary Goudie (Your Lisbon Guide. Need a private tour in Portugal? She's the lady to talk to), who had attended in the previous years. She told me that she had a "plan" for the event and wanted Andrea (Need info on Portuguese wines and foods while in the Lisbon area? Talk to Andrea about her Lisbon Food & Wine tour.), a fellow American Expat, and myself to attend. I even got to have my very own press pass (I know, I'm a nerd thinking how awesome that is.)
Food was my main reason for attending and wine was a bit of icing on top of the cake. I was able to meet a few chefs like José Avillez (If you saw the Lisbon episode of Anthony Bourdain:No Reservations last week, you'll know who I'm talking about), Nuno Faria (representing 100 MANEIRAS), and Leonel Pereira (he did a cooking demo the day I attended), and wine from José Maria da Fonseca.
A couple people stood out among the rest. Chef José Avillez was the most friendly person I had the pleasure of meeting at the event, and one of the most friendly I've met in Portugal. He was interested in what people had to say about the food and it wasn't just the rare and English speaking "Reporterettes", but everyone. Plus he gave us five dishes to try, two of which I NEED to learn to make at home so I can have them more often, his version of bacalhau a bras with exploding olives and hazelnut gelado with hazelnut foam and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Another who stood out were the kind people at Imporchá who were friendly had have simply beautiful teas. The last was Pastelaria Alcôa, who happened to have some of the most beautiful egg and almond pastries I've had. They were so sweet to me that I will have to go to their pastelaria in Alcobaça to do more research!
Attending this event was fun, though I have to admit there were some downsides to the event itself, but the people I met and were with made it well worth any of the downsides.
If you'd like to know more please be sure to check out Andrea's review over at An American in Portugal for another American perspective or Celia Pedroso's review at Eat Portugal for a Portuguese perspective.