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If you had been at the Hermitage Hotel’s Capitol Grille in Nashville last Wednesday, you might have seen a happy looking dozen or so journalists eating lunch together last week. As you might already know, food to journalists is like manna from heaven. At the head of the table was the hotel’s Executive Chef Tyler Brown, a handsome dark haired- man with an ambitious, pirate-like moustache in a white chef’s coat. So what’s up?

Chef Tyler Brown wearing a hatAs the Chef de Cuisine at the hotel, the self-titled “Head Farmer” at the garden he has created at historic Glen Leven farm (where he grows all the seasonal fruits and vegetables served in various dishes at the Capitol Grille) and along with an impressive list of industry professionals, is also a member of the Advisory Board for the AFWF which came up with the idea for, and produces the Atlanta- based festival. His job at the aforementioned luncheon? To tease and titillate his guests with such extraordinary tastes that they could not help but dedicate some ink to the upcoming Atlanta event. And as you can see, the technique worked quite well on me.

Not just a regional event, The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival will be returning for its 2nd year this May 10-13, with a little astonishing Southern something for everyone. It is also more than just another food-sampling soiree, offering access to talent from 14 Southern states (plus Washington D.C.) to showcase Southern — not just Atlantan — food and beverage traditions.

Last year’s inaugural event brought nearly six thousand people from 34 states and seven countries to Midtown, Atlanta’s vibrant, cosmopolitan community that is the city’s epicenter, to enjoy all that is Southern with award-winning chefs, sommeliers, mixologists, pitmasters, and beverage innovators.. More are expected this year, with new casual tasting tents to formal dinners, and over 80 cooking and cocktail seminars, technique labs and panel discussions led by well-known industry professionals. focusing on such themes as sourcing, Southern heritage, seafood, cocktails and “farm fresh.”

Delicious food on plate

A visitor can learn cast-iron cooking with Marie Nygren and David Guas or how to pair Southern cheese with wine, or beer and spirits with Tim Gaddis. Sit in on the Whiskey Roundtable with Derek Bell, Charles Medley, and Julian and Preston Van Winkle. Or, join The Fellowship of Country Ham with Linton Hopkins, Allan Benton and Alon Shaya. The list goes on…

Bourbon in cupsThis year, the festival will begin one day earlier with happenings on Thursday, which will mark the opening of the event’s first “pop-up” restaurant, with each evening featuring a different theme and set of chefs. One night you may explore the international influences on the cuisine of New Orleans, and on another experience soul food in a new way. Last year, Saturday night featured themed dinners hosted by various local restaurants. This time around, a few will be scheduled for each night and themes will include “Tribute to Southern Growers” by Sam Beall and the Blackberry Farm culinary team, Kevin Rathbun’s ten-chefs-to-watch gathering and JCT. Kitchen & Bar’s “Pig Out: Southern Style” barbecue-beer-bourbon party. What? Not enough choices? Check the schedule for more mouth-watering temptations than you can imagine!

Another of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival’s big draws is the ever-popular tasting tent sessions that open for three-hour stretches each day. According to the festival’s website, the tents “were designed to lead guests through a culinary exploration of the South, featuring themed tasting ‘trails’ like bourbon, craft beer, farm fresh, seafood, whole pig, southern snacks, favorites from other Southern regions around the globe, and more.” 

Atlanta Tent 3 food tasting

In the words of The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, “The South has never tasted so good!”

Tickets are available now on the event’s website. Pricing is as follows:

    •    Tasting tents (single entry to one 3-hour session): $100 per day

    •    Day passes (includes three learning experiences, one tasting tent session, gift bag): $180 later

    •    Connoisseur day passes (includes three exclusive learning experiences, tasting tents with VIP entrance, connoisseur breakfast, evening event or dinner*, access to connoisseur lounge, gift bag and access to concierge services) $2,000

    •    Three-day passes (includes nine learning experiences, three tasting tent sessions, Pig Out: Southern Style party, gift bag): $500

Delicious dessertVisit the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival’s website at for a complete list of fabulous tasting and learning experiences, events and dinners, festival map and more, including tickets, of course. Whether you’re Southern by birth or Southern by taste bud, this unique event only happens once every year, so do not miss it. / Issue 134 - September 5607
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