This year’s Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, an annual celebration of all things Southern dining, runs May 31 through June 3. Along with three days of tasting tents, the festival features a wide variety of dinners, parties, and learning sessions and hands-on workshops, with notable chefs, restaurateurs, and mixologists such as Justin Anthony (Yebo Beach Haus), Meherwan Irani (Chai Pani), John Castellucci (Castellucci Hospitality Group), Eddie Hernandez (Taqueria del Sol), and Paul Calvert and Greg Best (Ticonderoga Club) presenting. New this year is an all-female Advisory Council, featuring Asha Gomez (the Third Space), Tiffanie Barriere (formerly of One Flew South), Deborah Vantrece (Twisted Soul), and more.
“When people see the word ‘festival,’ they think we’re a street event. Our mission is to shine an international spotlight on the food and beverage traditions of the South from Texas to D.C.,” says co-founder Dominique Love. “More than 200 artisans, distillers, and chefs come in to share their South with our guests.”
We spoke with Love about what’s new and best to do at the event this year.
Kickoff Party: Destination Delicious
Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
The 2018 festival’s opening party, Destination Delicious, will showcase food and beverage trends by state, offer live music, and a section of “expert picks” from 15 chefs and members of the media who divide their recommendations into four regions: Appalachian, Atlantic Coastal, the Gulf, and Deep South. Located at the Stave Room at American Spirit Works, the event and venue will merge seamlessly to highlight local and regional culinary artisans, mixologists, and sommeliers.
Friday, times vary
Replacing the previous Friday class sessions, these new, two-hour, 50-person workshops offer immersive, hands-on learning led by top food and beverage talent. Topics range from the intersection of food and music (which features H. Harper Station founder Jerry Slater) to food waste (lead in part by Miller Union’s Steven Satterfield) to Southern ingredients and their international influences. The Master Studios conclude with a cocktail reception where attendees can mingle with talent and festival-goers and get inside knowledge about each Studio’s offering. “We are always looking for new ways to immerse our guests in our Southern food and beverage traditions,” Love says. “The Master Studios are an innovative approach to learning that engages guests in a single topic. Consider them a deep dive into our Southern food and drink culture.”
The Ingredients of Taste
Saturday, 7 p.m.
Held in the kitchen showrooms at design center ADAC, the Ingredients of Taste party showcases the intersection of style and flavor. The chefs and showrooms will be paired according to personality and key ingredients, and the chefs, including Todd Richards and Spotted Trotter’s Kevin Ouzts, will serve guests the foods they cook at home.
Friday, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, 6 p.m.; Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
This year, some of the tasting tents will be configured to spotlight quintessential Southern ingredients, such as blueberries, sweet potatoes, watermelon, and Vidalia onions. There’s also an Improbable Pairs section that offers unexpected pairings such as barbecue and Bordeaux, oysters and cocktails, and hot dogs and sparkling wine. There will be a tent dedicated to the millennial-targeted, educationally-focused Wine Riot event (think: a party with interactive tasting booths, 20-minute seminars, a photo booth, and temporary tattoos), which debuts in Atlanta in August. And yet another tent will feature a Southern Marketplace with artisan home and kitchen items available for purchase.