For the third year, the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival is coming to Midtown the weekend after Memorial Day to celebrate the culinary Southeast.
Founded by Elizabeth Feichter and Dominique Love in March 2010, the festival’s inspiration came from the ladies’ experience at a similar event hosted by Food & Wine magazine in Aspen.
“We fell in love. We loved the atmosphere,” Feichter said. “We came back to Atlanta and started talking to friends in the culinary industry. That’s where the conversation started.”
The festival is a three-day event, starting with “Pig-Out,” a tailgate-style dinner at JCT Kitchen in west Buckhead the evening of May 30. Thirteen chefs will be cooking and tickets are $65 each.
May 31, the festival’s Toast event will officially kick off the weekend and give guests a chance to mingle with the talent.
Love said there will be more than 250 chefs, sommeliers, pit masters, mixologists, brewers and wine makers, from Texas to Washington.
Additionally, there a few people from outside of the region, including cheese monger Liz Thorpe from New York, who has strong ties to New Orleans.
“We try to balance it across all of the region. It tends to be a little Atlanta heavy,” she said. “We have a really great, dedicated, smart group of people.”
Love said there are three key activities throughout the weekend, including learning experiences, tasting experiences and evening dinners and events, including Powerful and Delicious: A Celebration of the South’s Female Culinary Superstars.
In learning experiences, guests can partake in any of the 108 hour-long classes offered throughout the weekend, including cooking, cocktail, wine and beer classes, Love said. Tasting experiences are offered each day for three hours at a time.
“The festival for us has been a journey from year to year,” Love said. “We can’t capture the full essences of the South in a matter of days.”
She said each year the festival focuses on a couple of main topics, and this year’s emphasis will be on vegetables, women and Latin roots and its influences in the South.
Last year, the festival generated $15,000 to go to charities, including the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead, Oxford American, a literary magazine at the University of Arkansas, and Chefs Move, a program to help students get scholarships to culinary schools.
Love said the event is on track to donate the same amount this year, and are in the process to launch 501(c)3 approval.
“We are the only festival in the country to focus on one region exclusively,” Feichter said. “The South has such great traditions in the culinary world.”
Love said, “This weekend is about all of us humbling ourselves and working together to showcase the South to the nation in the most meaningful way.”
If you go:
o What: Atlanta Food and Wine Festival
o When: May 30 through June 2
o Where: Midtown (the hub is the Loews Hotel, 1065 Peachtree St.)
o Tickets: $185 for one-day passes, $500 for three-day passes, and $700 for connoisseur day passes and $2,000 for connoisseur three-day passes
o Information: http://atlfoodandwinefestival.com