The countdown marker on the website for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is the saving grace for those anxiously awaiting the start of the city's annual event for food lovers. However, for many, May 30 – June 2 can't come soon enough as the festival's founders and talent gear up for what is expected to be another amazing weekend.
With little rest between ending one event and planning for the next, co-founder Elizabeth Feichter says, “We tend to dive right into planning for the next year as soon as we get things settled from the previous. It is a perfect time to reflect on things we learned during the year, interesting ideas we came up with while sharing a meal or drink with talent, and opportunities to continuously evolve the festival’s programming.” The Atlanta Food & Festival, in my opinion, is of few high-profile events that intentionally make an effort in providing diverse and inclusive programming that reflects the area and the country. Something to be appreciated.
A Growing Culinary Family
Taking place at the Loews Atlanta Hotel (classes and dinners) and Historic Fourth Ward Park (Friday – Sunday tasting tents), this year the festival will run with the theme Off the Beaten Path, the will spotlight off-the-grid foodie destinations, rising culinary stars and more. “We've been able to bring together new faces and rising stars mixed with familiar and much-loved friends from up and coming food destinations. One of the things I find myself most in awe of every year is how amazing our talent really is. They take time away from their restaurants and bars, their families and communities to come to Atlanta and introduce our guests to new flavors, inspire them to cook up (or mix up!) something new in their own kitchens,” says Feichter.
Participating for the first time as one of those rising stars is Steven Brooks from the restaurant 5Church Atlanta. The German native who joined the restaurants earlier this year is preparing to win over foodies with his butter shard scallop dish with a carrot variation. “I’m new to this city and I’m very grateful for every experience I can get. This gives me an extra opportunity to get to know this wonderful city and dive deeper into a great culinary network,” Brooks shares.
Among several returning veterans who enjoy coming back to the festival year after year because of its mission and the excitement it brings is mixologist Tiffanie Barriere (The Drinking Coach) and chefs Jennifer Booker, Deborah VanTrece (Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours), Josh Lee (Chicken + Beer), Navarro Carr (The Sound Table), Todd Richards and Cedric McCroery (One Flew South). “Food is the camaraderie that brings us together at Atlanta Food & Wine and opens our minds to amazing collaborations, friendships and understanding. Finding those commonalities are the highlights for me,” says VanTrece.
Participating in the festival is more than just coming up with a recipe and coordinating a team to serve it. It about sharing experiences and input during the planning period with others to ensure attendees experience the best of the best over the weekend. “There's such a great energy within this festival and it starts with all the coordinators, participants and volunteers. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be working behind the scenes and then see people from other areas in the South that you haven’t seen in months or sometimes years. I feel like most people in hospitality gravitate toward the team and family aspect of our business, and this festival can feel like an extended family reunion,” says Carr.
What’s New, What’s Hot
Each year, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival strives to bring passionate food and beverage supporters together for a decadent weekend and prides itself on having an extensive schedule of programming for attendees to learn about the South’s rich agriculture and talent.
Salivating highlights festival guests can look forward to include:
The Front Row – Learning Experiences Between the in-depth Master Studio series on Friday and an extensive roster of learning seminars on Saturday, guests will have over 50 opportunities to receive hands-on instruction, participate in panel discussions and sip and savor tastings from the region’s top talent. From unexpected pairings to new techniques, the spectrum of topics encourages guests to explore new sides of their palates – and offer endless opportunities for Instagrammable enjoyment and entertaining – including something for everyone’s palate.
Master Studio Series – Kitchen Raconteurs: Storytelling through Food The universal language of food is intrinsically linked to the art of storytelling. Presented by The Local Palate and hosted by The Lee Brothers, Friday’s Master Studio series invites guests to travel down memory lane with some of our favorite storytellers – chefs, beverage pros, and purveyors – as they share dishes inspired by their own experiences.
Dinners & Events – The party doesn’t end until late! Whether it’s an intimate themed dinner or an extravagant bash, Atlanta Food & Wine Festival knows how to celebrate in true Southern style – and demonstrate the finer points of Southern hospitality. Kicking off with their signature Destination Delicious event on Thursday evening, the weekend will offer festive and interactive tasting events from Friday Lunch all the way to Sunday Brunch. Each year, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival strives to bring passionate food and beverage supporters together for a decadent weekend while bringing awareness to the rich agriculture and rich talent of the South. Guests can mingle with other devotees and talent, all while eating and drinking their way through the South!
Individual tickets, as well as packages, are available while they last at https://atlfoodandwinefestival.com/experiences/. Be sure to follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram starting May 30 to catch the fun while it is happening.