Fall has officially taken over—at least according to the calendar—and it’s time to trade in the summery indulgences (juicy watermelon, refreshing rosé) for heartier fare. With that comes a handful of can’t-miss culinary festivals that showcase famous chefs, well-known wineries and delectable food this season. Whether you’re craving Basque Country cuisine or have a hankering for some good old Southern fare, our Forbes Travel Guide editors have a festival for you, from San Sebastian to South Carolina.
Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival, Oct. 17-20
Martha’s Vineyard may not be the first destination that pops into your head when you think of fall food festivals, but the quaint village of Edgartown is quite picturesque this time of year. Add in fantastic chefs and fabulous wine, and you’ve got a perfect seaside autumn delight. The festival kicks off on Thursday with the Fresh off the Farm dinner, during which chefs such as Jan Buhrman, Nathan Gould and Everett Whiting serve delicious dishes that are as fresh as possible. Don’t miss Friday’s first annual Sommelier Throw Down to see who’s the best—and taste chef Michael Brisson’s French cuisine. There’s a grand tasting in downtown Edgartown on Saturday, where you can engage in cooking demos as you sip wine from around the world. And if you’ve come to learn, you’re in luck; there are several seminars that you can participate in, including Wine 101: The Secrets to Food & Wine Pairings with chef Suvir Saran and Napa Valley vintner Joseph Carr.
New York City Wine & Food Festival, Oct. 17-20
The sixth edition of New York City Wine & Food Festival marks a new chapter in the culinary extravaganza’s book: a new central hub. Moving to Midtown West (just above Hell’s Kitchen), the festival’s “Culinary Campus” will be located at Piers 92 and 94 on the Westside Highway. There are about 100 events, which bring together top toques—think Dominique Ansel (the man behind the famous Cronut), Mario Batali and Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Daniel Humm—and leaders in the wine and spirits industry, such as Tastemaker Jancis Robinson and Eric Lincoln. Events range from seminars to intimate dinners to lively tailgates. Of course, you don’t want to miss the grand tastings, which offer a chance to sample a plethora of chefs’ masterpieces alongside delightful wines. The grand tastings and other events, such as the Blue Moon Burger Bash (Friday) that’s hosted by Rachael Ray, take place at the Culinary Campus, while others, including the intimate dinners, are put on at various venues around the city, including Bouley Test Kitchen.
Kohler Food & Wine Experience, Kohler, Wis., Oct. 17-20
The 13th annual Kohler Food & Wine Experience at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The American Club brings together experts in both the culinary industry and world of wine for a weekend of seminars, tastings and demonstrations. Wine lovers will want to hit several seminars such as Chilean Terroir – A Look at Chile’s Unique Wines and Soils (Saturday) during which Felipe Tosso, the head winemaker of Viña Ventisquero, will guide you through side-by-side comparative tastings of sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, carménère and cabernet sauvignon from various regions of Chile. As for the foodies, don’t miss Fast Food My Way, a culinary demonstration by Jacques and Claudine Pépin on Friday, or Cooking With Fabio on Saturday, presented by chef and Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Fabio Viviani, who will be sharing recipes from his new cookbook Fabio’s Italian Kitchen.
Taste of Atlanta, Oct. 25-27
As its food scene continues to emerge as one of the best in the South, Atlanta’s culinary festivals are luring foodies from around the country. The 12th edition of Taste of Atlanta compiles the city’s top toques from well-known restaurants. More than 90 eateries will serve lip-smacking cuisine at this year’s event, including The Optimist, King + Duke and JCT. Kitchen & Bar by Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Ford Fry, and The Spence from Tastemaker Richard Blais. Like many other gastronomic weekends, you can indulge your brain (and strengthen your recipe portfolio) in live cooking demos with chefs such as Robert Phalen of One Eared Stag and Todd Stein of Two Urban Licks. If you prefer to take part in a more interactive experience, be sure to sign up for one of the sessions in The Kitchen Workshop, offered on Saturday and Sunday. Don’t miss Sunday’s Taste of Atlanta Barcraft Competition Finals when bartenders duke it out for the title of “Taste of Atlanta’s Best Bartender.”
Life Is Beautiful Festival, Las Vegas, Oct. 26-27
Making its Sin City debut, this indie-music-meets-gourmet-food weekend is definitely one to experience. Taking place in downtown Las Vegas’ Fremont Street, Life Is Beautiful is reeling in the big names. On the music side of things, you’ll be treated to shows by acts such as The Killers, Pretty Lights, Kings of Leon and Imagine Dragons. As for the cuisine, you can expect to encounter more food than you could possibly eat in two days. The Culinary Village is the centerpiece, featuring more than 50 restaurants from chefs including Hubert Keller of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Fleur de Lys in San Francisco, Michael Mina of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurants American Fish and Michael Mina, and Forbes Travel Guide Tastemakers Rick Moonen and Tom Colicchio. There will also be demos on stage by 20 top toques such as Tastemakers Todd English and David Myers. And if those aren’t enough to sate your cravings, embark on one of the Culinary Crawls, during which you’ll experience three different venues on each trek, including Park on Fremont, Le Thai and EAT.
Meatopia Texas, San Antonio, Nov. 2-3
The New York-based festival makes its way to the Lone Star State for the first time this year, and there’s a stellar lineup to kick off what’s sure to be a mainstay. Taking place at San Antonio’s Pearl, a culinary and cultural destination, this meat-centric extravaganza is right up Texas’ alley. For two days, festivalgoers get to dig into fall-off-the-bone, finger-lickin’-good cuisine. The roster includes more than 30 top chefs such as Paul Qui of Qui in Austin, Ford Fry of King + Duke in Atlanta and Chris Shepherd of Underbelly in Houston. Saturday honors a tradition harkening back to the days of yore when the term “beefsteak” meant a meat-filled celebration. Chefs Tim Byres (Smoke in Dallas), Tim Rattray (The Granary in San Antonio) and Mike Toscano (Perla in New York) grill up top-notch steaks and treat hungry revelers to all the meat they can hold (and beer they can drink). Sunday is officially Meatopia, during which chefs cook up everything from beef and bison to duck and quail in an exciting and lively atmosphere.
Music To Your Mouth, Bluffton, S.C., Nov. 19-24
Held at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Inn at Palmetto Bluff, this Southern gastronomic festival lures local and regional chefs, vintners, brewers, artisans and farmers. This year, there will be more than 75 personalities participating in the six-day event. Indulge in the culinary works of Southern chefs such as Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Craig Deihl of Cypress in Charleston, S.C., Linton Hopkins of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta and Tyler Brown of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Capitol Grille in Nashville. Though most events are already sold out, there are still tickets available for a couple of cooking classes. For those lucky (and smart) enough to have already scored tickets, you can look forward to events such as a wine tasting, oyster roast, James Beard Award dinner and a whiskey cruise with Julian Van Winkle of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery and ham master Allan Benton of Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams. Palmetto Bluff members get to cheer on (and judge) Friday’s culinary showdown between the resort’s executive chef Brandon Carter and guest chef Gary Danko (of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco).
Flavor! Napa Valley, Nov. 20-24
Benefiting the Culinary Institute of America, this Napa Valley weekend is chock-full of great food and even better wine. Oenophiles should definitely opt for the three-day Wine Loves Boot Camp, which is led by Christie Dufault, who is a wine and beverage instructor at the CIA’s Rudd Center. You can also take part in events such as Terroir to Table: Farm, Cellar & Kitchen Experiences that take place at different venues throughout the week (ranging from vineyards and olive orchards to restaurants and bakeries). Chefs such as Forbes Travel Guide Tastemakers Michael Chiarello and Roy Choi, and Christopher Kostow of Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Restaurant at Meadowood show off their skills in culinary demonstrations. If you’re staying at one of the partner hotels (including Andaz Napa and Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Carneros Inn), be sure to kick off the indulgent week with First Taste Napa: A Downtown Napa Culinary Stroll, where you can whet your palate at restaurants such as Morimoto Napa and The Thomas.
Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival, Nov. 22-25
If you’re craving sunshine with a side of gastronomy, head straight to Barbados. This four-day festival combines celebrity chefs, wine experts and, yes, rum. The weekend begins with Late Night at the Beach House, where you can dance the night away to the sounds of Neycx (one of the island’s top bands) and treat yourself to delectable bites, cocktails and wine. Saturday is filled with cooking demos by star toques such as Food Network’s Anne Burrell, Jose Garces and Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Marcus Samuelsson, while oenophiles can brush up at wine seminars with Josh Wesson. For those looking for a local taste, head straight to the rum cocktail seminar with Mount Gay’s rum ambassador Chesterfield Browne. More island flavor can be had at Sizzle Street at Queen’s Park, where you can get a feel for the culture and cuisine of Barbados. Round out the weekend with the Mount Gay Rum Tour and see how the island’s favorite spirit is made.
San Sebastian Gastronomika – Euskadi Basque Country, San Sebastian, Spain, Oct. 6-9
San Sebastian is known for its world-class cuisine, so it makes perfect sense that one of the most dynamic culinary events takes place in the Spanish city. The 15th edition of San Sebastian Gastronomika highlights London’s innovative cuisine, welcoming British chefs to showcase their talents alongside Spanish and Basque chefs. Held in the ultra-modern Kursaal Congress Palace, Gastronomika is split into four sectors: Alta, Off, Market and Popular. Top chefs take the stage in the Alta segment in the form of demos and live tastings. This is one of the main allures of Gastronomika—real-time tasting of the dishes the chefs are preparing on stage—and this year, toques such as father-daughter duo Juan Mari and Elena Arzak, and Martín Berasategui will be whipping up divine plates. Off is geared toward the industry with competitions, presentations and challenges filling the schedule, while Market consists of a trade fair targeted at industry insiders. Popular is actually what kicks off the festival, highlighting Spanish chefs who have excelled in the British capital in an interactive and exciting environment of cooking demos and cocktail concoctions.
Photos Courtesy of Music To Your Mouth, Neil Rasmus-BFAnyc and Kohler Co.