New Orleans’ culinary traditions are preparing for their close-up, with Bravo’s Top Chef headed NOLA’s way for its upcoming season. But you don’t have to wait till then — the annual New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE), running from May 22 to 25, offers a great way to immerse yourself in the city’s dining culture.
The festival turns 21 this year and is celebrating with grand tastings, vintner dinners, seminars and more throughout the week. One of the events kicking off NOWFE is the May 22 wine dinner, where chefs from around the city connect with vintners for a special one-day menu of food and vino excellence. Chef Susan Spicer’s Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant Bayona is one of the night’s participants. Spicer, who will be accompanied by Bayona sommeliers Shannon Fristoe and Carly Dicasola, will share the elements of complimentary pairings of wine and food across a multi-course meal of flavorful dishes such as crawfish beignets and smoked duck with wild mushroom cannelloni.
Find out what’s drawing an increasing number of foodies to the Crescent City with the Royal Street Stroll on May 23, a festive gathering complete with wine-loving revelers Krewe of Cork and the Second Line brass band. Food stands from high-end restaurants such as Antoine’s, Bombay Club and Galvez Restaurant will offer small plates paired with fine wines all along Royal Street, and you can walk through art galleries such as Painted Alive and Great Artists’ Collective, which will also have tastings.
On Friday, May 25, Restaurant August chef John Besh will honor chef Leah Chase, proprietress of the legendary soul-food restaurant Dooky Chase’s, with the Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award during Funkin’ it Up! The event is a benefit for his foundation, which awards culinary scholarships. NOWFE has a 20-year history of foodie philanthropy and has given more than $1 million to non-profit organizations in the community.
The week culminates with NOWFE’s biggest event — the Grand Tastings on Friday and Saturday. Wines from internationally renowned vineyards will be paired with gourmet offerings from New Orleans eateries. With a deep bench of 75 culinary experts and more than 175 vineyards, the Grand Tastings take place in the Morial Convention Center outside Hall J, and remain an annual hot ticket for NOLA foodies. Another part of the Grant Tastings is Canstruction New Orleans, an event where teams of architects build structures from canned goods and other non-perishable food items, with a goal of raising funds and food for more than 100,000 meals for Second Harvest Food Bank.
Photos Courtesy of New Orleans Food And Wine Experience