With the weather finally starting to warm up, it’s time to look forward to spring – and to what’s likely to be the culinary event of the year in these parts.
The first Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival will take place from March 27 to March 30, and gather some of the best known chefs in North Texas – among them Fort Worth superstars Jon Bonnell, Lanny Lancarte (Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana) and Molly McCook (Ellerbe Fine Foods), as well as such Dallas notables as John Tesar (Spoon) and Stephan Pyles.
The event, which will help raise funds for culinary school scholarships and grant programs, was first announced last spring, and since then the schedule has started to firm up. The festival kicks off with a party at Billy Bob’s Texas on March 27, where twelve chefs -- including Dena Peterson (Café Modern), Donatella Trotti (Nonna Tata) and Michael Thomson (Michael’s) – will serve tastings that will be paired with Texas-sourced beer, wine and spirits.
Then comes the weekend, and events that range from the casual to the fancy. Saturday evening, for instance, brings “Burgers, Brews and Blues,” a tasting of 26 different beers, with burgers served up by Fort Worth icons like Fred’s and Dutch’s. (The blues will be provided by an as-yet-undetermined band.)
Those looking for something a little more elegant, meanwhile, can sign up for one of just 150 spots at a special progressive lunch on Saturday afternoon on the stage at Bass Hall. The food will be prepared by Bonnell and Pyles, and each course will be accompanied by a special performance from “the best talents in the city.” Great food, plus great performing arts, in one of Fort Worth’s most treasured venues – I can’t think of a more inventive way to showcase everything our town has to offer.
Other notable festival events include two “Sip and Savor” wine-and-food tastings, to be held on Saturday and Sunday; and a fundraiser for Meals On Wheels, Inc. of Greater Tarrant County,” where – appropriately enough – you’ll have the chance to sample dishes from some of Fort Worth’s best food trucks. (Salsa Limon, my own personal fave, will be on hand.) That event takes place on Sunday afternoon at the Coyote Drive-In.
What’s particularly exciting about this festival – compared to a lot of other food festivals around the country – is that prices are quite reasonable. Tickets to individual events can be had for as little as $50 (for the Meals On Wheels tasting), and a festival package – which allows you to attend five events – is available for $324.50.
That said, you’d be wise to get tickets sooner rather than later, as organizers are predicting sell-out crowds. Finally, additional events are expected to be added, so make sure to keeping checking the festival's Web site for the latest news.