It’s official! The first annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival set for May 19-22 2011

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The juicy dish (not to mention the tasty nibbles from some of the city’s finest chefs) being served up on the fourth floor of White Provision in West Midtown Wednesday night was worth the oppressive heat.

In front of approximately 200 guests enduring the “slightly muggy atmosphere,” co-founders Dominique Love and Elizabeth Feichter announced that the city’s first-ever Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is scheduled to take place May 19-22, 2011.

Like similar events in Aspen and South Beach, the weekend-long event will welcome foodies from across the country with room for approximately 3,000 chefs and tastemakers over 40,000 square feet of tented green space in Midtown.

Only Atlanta’s event will celebrate the culinary achievements of chefs across the South.

For Kyma chef Pano Karatassos Jr., who was busy serving up samples of his famed grilled octopus over fava santorini with pickled red onions and capers, the announcement was long over due.

“Like Aspen and South Beach, Atlanta is finally in the big leagues,” Karatassos told us smiling. “I’m glad they’re finally putting it together here in our city. It’s well deserved.”

Across the way, Inman Park chef Kevin Rathbun was grinning as he dished up diver scallops benedict with country ham grits and pickled green tomato hollandaise.

Finally Atlanta!,” Rathbun exclaimed. “As much as I love travelling to Aspen and South Beach, the best thing about this is I can experience the event without packing a bag. We’re finally getting on the map. It’s really exciting for our city.”

Other members of inaugural Atlanta Food & Wine Festival founders council include: Restaurant Eugene’s Linton Hopkins, JCT Kitchen’s Ford Fry, Five & Ten’s Hugh Acheson,  Shaun’s Shaun Doty, A Legendary Event’s Chris Holmes, Craft Atlanta’s Kevin Maxey and Bacchanalia’s Anne Quatrano.

Holeman & Finch master mixologist Greg Best created the evening’s signature cocktail, The Whiskey Spring, a refreshing bourbon, white creme de cacao, lemon juice and bitters concoction, splashed into a crushed peanut brittle-rimmed martini glass.

The brand-new Loews Atlanta hotel in Midtown has signed up to be the official host hotel of the festival.

For all the details on the 2011 weekend, go to the festival’s official website.

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