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Atlanta Food & Wine Festival to Debut in Midtown

Inaugural Event Runs May 19-22.

Celebrate Southern flavors at a new culinary festival that is set to make its inaugural run May 19-22 in Midtown.

With an activity roster that ranges from street carts to connoisseur tastings, lectures to formal dinners and more, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is designed to offer something to appeal to everyone with taste buds.

How will the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival differ from the various other culinary events routinely held in Atlanta and across the South?

“We are a full weekend experience,” said Dominique Love, chief executive officer and co-founder. “It’s not just about tasting but includes learning elements. Throughout the weekend we have a series of classes plus cooking and cocktail demonstrations. There are hands-on classes, tasting seminars, pairing sessions, panel discussions and exclusive dinners.

"It’s a very comprehensive weekend, not a street fair — although we do have outdoor tasting tents and street carts as an extension of what happens in the classroom.”

Organizing the event “came from a lot of passion and envy,” Love said. “My business partner [Elizabeth Feichter] and I own a consulting firm and our work led us to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen [Colorado]. It was a wonderful culinary weekend where people could get up close and personal with chefs and learn from them. We wished that we had something like that in Atlanta. Since we’re both passionate about Southern food and drinks, we made it happen.”

An impressive roster of chefs, mixologists, restaurateurs, sommeliers and other culinary leaders -- many of whom have earned accolades like James Beard Awards (the “Oscars” of the food world) -- is scheduled to participate.

“We tried to look for chefs who were doing innovative work in the South,” Love said.

Among the visiting chefs who will host special dinners at local restaurants is Chef Adolfo Garcia, the celebrated chef/owner of RioMar, La Boca and A Mano restaurants in New Orleans, La. His special Basque dinner will be held at on May 21.

Garcia was lured to participate in the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival because he “saw it as an opportunity to meet, greet and hang out with other chefs in a food-centric environment and also to showcase a facet of this thing of ours we call New Orleans,” he said.

“To be involved in such a big event on the ground floor is an honor and to be in company with people like Chef Linton Hopkins and Chef Frank Stitt in itself is reason enough to show up in Atlanta," Garcia said. With such enthusiastic hosts expect the festival to boast an upbeat vibe.

Among the street carts scheduled to appear is the Taste the Wow" food truck sponsored by Avocados from Mexico. Chef Roberto Santibañez, author of “Truly Mexican," will demonstrate authentic Mexican recipes, share his five secrets to great Mexican cooking, serve tasty samples and also offer tips on how to select the perfect avocado.

Tasting Tents, located at 11th Street and Peachtree Walk, are designed to encourage meandering along various “trails” that are organized by theme.

“We didn’t want people to walk up to the table, grab a bite and move on,” Love said. “We wanted people to experience the South and so created trails that cover some really big popular categories and foodways of Southerners."

Among the options is a fried chicken area, a barbecue trail, a "snacks and sweets" area, a tent dedicated to bourbon, a pig section (which was organized by Chef Kevin Gillespie and will showcase chefs cooking different parts of the pig), a Southern craft beer trail and more.

“I liken it to a really fabulous all-you-can-eat-and-drink Southern buffet,” Love said.

Sounds like there won't be any excuse to leave hungry.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.AtlFoodandWineFestival.com.

Ticket options range from $75 day passes to an exclusive all-access connoisseur pass priced at $2,500 that includes lunch with Chef Todd English, dinner with Chef Michelle Bernstein, a party at Chef Kevin Rathbun’s home and much more. Some a la carte events, including Sunday brunch at The Ritz-Carlton (both Downtown and Buckhead locations), are priced from $50.

Get a 10% discount on 3-Day, VIP and Connoisseur packages by clicking the sponsor/promo code link on the ticketing page.  When prompted, enter the code MIDTOWN11.  Other special offers include a $129/night rate at Loew's Atlanta Hotel.

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