When the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience was conceived 18 years ago, its founders had enlisted only 40 or so oenophiles and colleagues from the wine industry to showcase their wines at the debut Experience.
Today, the NOWFE is nationally recognized as one the most prestigious festivals of its kind and features more than 175 wineries and 1,000 wines over the five-day event, which now raises $125,000-plus annually for local charities.
Plans for the 2009 event, scheduled for May 19-23, are shaping up to be the epicurean extravaganza of the year.
“The secret of NOWFE’s success is the perfect blend of outstanding wine, extraordinary food, expert panelists and the absolutely amazing backdrop of our city,” states incoming NOWFE President Greg Reggio. “And to be able to use this event to raise money for local charities — that’s the icing on the cake.”
The 2009 event will kick off on Tuesday, May 19 with vintner dinners in some of New Orleans’ most celebrated restaurants, followed by the traditional Royal Street Stroll and Vinola Tasting & Live Auction on Thursday, and culminating with Grand Tastings in the revitalized Louisiana Superdome on Friday and Saturday.
Featured seminars and events on the 2009 schedule include:
*** FEASTival — The NOWFE presents its first-ever celebrity chef gala, a chance to mix and mingle with some of America’s favorite celebrity chefs — including Michel Richard, Marc Vetri and Neal Fraser — as they present signature dishes paired with select wineries in this upscale tasting event. This event takes place on Thursday, May 21 from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at Harrah’s New Orleans Theatre.
*** Bubbles & Bites — Corks will be popped on some fabulous Champagnes, while Ian Schnoeblen — executive chef/co-owner of Iris, and one of Food and Wine’s 10 Best American Chefs for 2007– tempts your taste buds. Guests will be shown how to go green with ingredients that are freshly picked, and will hear from experts on the latest in organic winemaking trends.
*** Eat Like a Pig — Chef Donald Link (Cochon & Herbsaint) serves cochon du lait and other bizarre foods of Louisiana, paired with a selection of outstanding Rhone Valley wines.
*** Party Like It’s 1999 — Explore Napa Cabs from the 1999 vintage, paired with epicurean delights from legendary local restaurateur Dickie Brennan and the executive chef of Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Jack Martinez.
*** Table for Two, S’il Vous Plait — Local expert foodie Tom Fitzmorris will explore the hot trend of Bistro French cuisine with four favorite local chefs, while guests savor fantastic French wines.
*** Boot to Boot — Taste trailblazing wines from the Italian boot, while an up-and-coming chef from Louisiana’s own boot offers up a taste of Italian cuisine.
*** Pastry & Port Paired to Perfection — Premium Ports will be paired with heavenly creations from celebrated local pastry chefs Kristyne Bouley (Herbsaint & Cochon) and Simone Fleming (Ritz-Carlton New Orleans).
*** WOW! Women on Wine — Hear from some of the world’s leading women winemakers, and experience the culinary styles of two of New Orleans’ leading ladies, James Beard Award-winning chef Susan Spicer (Bayona) and 2008 Food & Wine Best New Chef Sue Zemanick (Gautreau’s).
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience is a non-profit organization. Proceeds from the 2008 event benefited:
* The Louisiana Restaurant Association’s ProStart Program
* The University of New Orleans School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism
* The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute
* Delgado Community College Culinary Arts Program
* New Orleans Firefighter House Fund
* Sean Payton’s Play It Forward
* Girls First