The Very First Memphis Food & Wine Festival (Guest Post)
Update August 2017: Tickets for the 2017 Festival are now on sale. They are $200 per person, and include tastings from about 40 local and international chefs and 40 international wineries, plus live music. The event will be at the Memphis Botanic Garden on Saturday, October 14. Read more and get your tickets here.
Ed. Note: October 15, 2016 was the first Memphis Food & Wine Festival. I wasn’t able to attend (my BFF got married that night), but local foodie blogger Andrea LeTard was there. Here’s the scoop on the inaugural Memphis Food & Wine Fest, what the event was like, and if it was worth the ticket price.
I asked Andrea to be honest and fair in her review – the good, the bad, etc. Luckily it sounds like it was all good. You’ll want to check out her blog, Andrea’s Cooktales, too. Special thanks to Justin Fox Burks for the photos.
October 15 marked the first-ever official food and wine fest in our city, and lucky for me and all the people in attendance, it was a near-flawless event that I would’ve guessed had been going on for years.
While I wouldn’t call us experts just yet, my husband and I are no strangers to food and wine festivals. We have been to several around the country, including the renowned Food Network and Cooking Channel South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami, and I’m here to tell y’all, the MEMPHIS Food and Wine Festival is a culinary force to be reckoned with.
This was not your average festival – it was a food and wine lover’s dream come true. When I first saw the list of wineries that would be in attendance, I knew going to the event would be like taking a trip back to wine country. And the chefs – exceptional and award winning local, regional, and national chefs – were reason enough to buy a ticket. Every sip and bite was luxurious, scrumptious heaven.
If you missed it this year, never fret. It is to become an annual event with plans to expand and become more impressive each year. While it’s almost guaranteed you’ll be alarmed at the heavy price tag – rest assured – when you leave this event, you’ll feel like you ate and drank well-over what it was worth.
Even better, ticket sales ($200-$250 per person) benefit the FedExFamilyHouse, a home for out of town families who have children receiving treatment at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, so it’s money well-spent.
Here’s a little preview of what you’ll experience at this stellar event next year:
– Some of the best wine you’ll ever drink – A wide range of wines from regions and price ranges, you will get to sample some of the best wine in the world at this event. I was shocked at some of the wineries that were there and the extravagant bottles of wine we got to sample.
My husband and I are regular Napa and Sonoma travelers, and we recognized some of our favorite wineries there – Frank Family, Cakebread, Silver Oak, Rombauer, Caymus, and Kuleto Estate – just to name a few. And even one of our favorite champagnes, Pol Roger, was an option. This was fancy schmancy wine, y’all!
– Bites of food from award winning chefs – The chefs at this event are seriously talented, and walking around sampling their food was like visiting several top-notch restaurants from all over the country – all in one night. I can’t say we had one bite of food that wasn’t extremely impressive, and paired with the wine selection, it was icing on the cake.
Plus, you can go back for seconds, and thirds, and fourths. The food was plentiful!
– Unique food you may never try otherwise – There was something for everyone here. Whether you’re basic with your menu order or a culinary daredevil, almost every type of food under the sun is at your fingertips at this event. We sampled some of the finest, one of a kind dishes including Waygu steaks, foie gras, tartare, octopus, rabbit, duck, lobster, and even a caviar dish from the world-famous chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
– A lovely, picturesque atmosphere – The location of the festival could not have been more ideal, held at the Memphis Botanic Garden’s multiple acres of beauty. Twinkling lights, green grass, and festive music in the background, you’ll feel like you have been transported.
– Perfect weather – I’m no fortune teller, so I can’t predict the weather next year (fingers crossed no rain), but we all know October in Memphis is one of the most delightful months out of the year. They could not have picked a more perfect time of year to have this event. This year, there was no rain, no mosquitos to swat, the sun set beautifully, and it cooled to the perfect temperature.
– Homegrown, soulful Memphis music – The music played at this festival was fantastic – perfect for Memphians and out-of-towners alike. While hopping around from tent to tent eating and drinking your heart out, you get the most glorious background sound of Memphis soul, blues, rock n roll, and jazz. So, while not all the food and wine is from Memphis, you can bet the music will give you that real “Memphis” feeling.
A few more photos, all from Justin:
Check out the Memphis Food and Wine Festival website (http://www.memphisfoodwinefestival.org/) to get more information and be on the lookout for next year’s event. This is one ticket you’ll want to purchase ahead of time!
About The Author
Andrea LeTard is a personal chef, cooking instructor, and creator of Andrea’s Cooktales, a recipe website and YouTube video series where “there’s a story behind every recipe.” Her recipes are what she calls “next-generation southern” – fun and fundamentally southern with a modern twist using fine, fresh, and unexpected ingredients.
Her recipes have been featured on The Today Show and she was chosen as a Top 100 contestant on MasterChef Season 6. She has a master’s degree in journalism and uses her writing background as a culinary contributor and recipe developer for several local magazines in Memphis. She’s also a regular cooking segment contributor on Local Memphis Live. Follow Andrea on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter or read her blog and watch her video series at AndreasCooktales.com.