This weekend was the Virada Paulista, a non-stop 24 hours of cultural programs that brings millions of people onto the streets of Brazil’s biggest city to enjoy everything from music, to dance, to cinema, to gastronomy.

It’s a great idea run by idiots who once more illustrated exactly how little they know about either organising a big event or what their own citizens want.

The novelty this year was the street food stands run by some of the city’s best (or best-known) chefs. It was a great idea, poorly executed. The stands were simply unprepared for the crowds that turned out.

Several of the restaurants I went to had run out of food, some as early as 2pm, a full SIX HOURS before the scheduled closing time. The drinks stands I went to had no drinks and those that did wouldn’t sell what they had because they were waiting for ice to chill them.

Some queues were 300 meters long and diners got so frustrated that they invaded one stall (see details in this Folha piece). At one point, on the stall ran by Luiz Emanuel, chef at Allez Allez, there were five people standing around doing nothing and one person serving food. The person doing the serving was 16 years old.

The most annoying thing was that if the chefs and organiser had paid the slightest bit of attention they could have anticipated the huge crowds.

Just three weeks ago, thousands of people turned out for a similar event at a Sao Paulo art gallery and the interest was such that traffic jams snarled up the surrounding area well into the wee hours of the morning.

Paulistas want good food at affordable prices. But restaurants here charge such ridiculously high prices that most people can’t afford to go to them. So for many people, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to taste rice and chicken cooked by Alex Atala, last week voted the fourth best chef in the world.

They missed out on that chance due to sloppy organisation and bad planning. The chefs and organisers blew it. They should be embarrassed.