Launched in 2011, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is a major, multi-day foodie extravaganza. There are three days of seminars, cooking demos, and - of course - lots and lots of yummy food and free-flowing booze.
2014 Food & Wine Festival Information:
When: May 29 - June 1, 2014
Where: Loews Hotel (Midtown Atlanta) and the surrounding area. Marta access via Midtown station.
Tasting Tent passes (one day): $100 - new location at 12th & Peachtree Walk
Day Passes: $185 for regular passes
Three-Day Passes: $520
Connoisseur passes: $700 per day
Three-Day Connoisseur passes: $2000Additional Special Events
Throughout the weekend of the event, Atlanta restaurants hold special dinners. There are amazing collaborations from guest chefs, always special menus, and sometimes a few surprises. Dinners begin on Thursday evening and run through Sunday.
Deciding Which Ticket is Right for You:
The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is a crazy, fun, gluttonous experience. By Sunday, even the most devoted food lover will be entering a serious food coma. There is something for everyone at the Food & Wine festival. It's all about finding the right option for you. Here are some of my recommendations, based on my experience at the 2011 festival.
The Tasting Tents are a can't-miss experience, and a great introduction to the festival. If you're more interested in tasting the best, most creative bites from all over the South than learning how to create them in your own kitchen, the Tasting Tent pass might be right for you. The tents do get crowded, but there is plenty of food to go around, so don't worry. More than that, there is a lot of alcohol flowing. I mean, really. A lot more than any other food festival or event I've attended. All sorts of spirits, and wine galore. So be prepared to throw down, and plan a ride to get home safely. Unless things have changed since last year, the tastings are unlimited - unlike some other events that require you to "purchase" tastes with tickets.
If your love affair with food is a bit more serious, and you're looking to take it to the next level - the it's time to invest in a one or three day pass. There are lots of cool sessions to attend. Some are cooking demos, while others may feature food and wine (or beer, or liquor) pairings. Over the course of three days, there are more than 80 to choose from. Highlights from my experience included a beer and cheese pairing (featuring Terrapin and cheese from Star Provisions) and a grilling demonstration from the Rathbun brothers. One of the greatest parts about the sessions is that they are very interactive. The chefs reserve a good amount of time for questions and encourage the audience to get vocal. You can get your tough kitchen questions answered or just rap a bit with some of your favorite Southern food gods.
If you can swing it, I highly recommend picking up tickets to one of the restaurant dinners. You'll likely dine community style with others who appreciate great food. It's a neat opportunity to meet different folks and share the experience of dining together.