Pace yourself! With more than 35 chefs at each tasting tent session, there is plenty of food to go around. CONTRIBUTED BY RAFTERMEN / AFWF
Photo: Raftermen LLC
Photo: Raftermen LLC

What to expect at 2019 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Big change this year: Tasting Tents will be at Historic Fourth Ward Park

In its ninth year, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival runs May 30-June 2, with four days of eating, drinking, learning and doing on the bill, along with a cast of star chefs, distillers, brewers, winemakers and farmers.

As always, the goal is to shine a light on the rich food and beverage traditions of the South, which for purposes of the talent and programming is defined as stretching from Texas to the District of Columbia.

The Loews Atlanta, located at the corner of 11th and Peachtree streets in Midtown, is still the official host hotel — functioning as the axis mundi of hospitality and connectivity, and the location for the daytime Learning Experiences and the Connoisseur Lounge.

But this year, the ever-popular Tasting Tents have been moved from Piedmont Park to Historic Fourth Ward Park, just south of Ponce City Market, near the Atlanta Beltline. And that’s sure to be the big news.

Through classes and Learning Experiences, dinners and events, you’ll be delighted at all there is to see and do at this year’s Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. CONTRIBUTED BY RAFTERMEN / AFWF
Photo: For the AJC

AF&WF was launched in 2010 by Atlanta entrepreneurs Dominique Love and Elizabeth Feichter. Love stepped down after last year’s festival. Feichter continues in her role as COO.

“Nine years in, you’ve got to keep it fresh,” Feichter said during a recent chat about AF&WF 2019. “Figuring out ways to do that has been the fun part for us. It’s exciting planning it, and then seeing guests get excited about having something new to experience.

“We’ve moved the Tasting Tents a few times over the course of the past nine years. When we started the festival, it all was about keeping it in Midtown. The last three years, we were in Piedmont Park. It’s one of my favorite places in Atlanta. But it was time for us to find a new home, because where we were located there just wasn’t working for our guests. We want everyone to enjoy themselves as much as we’ve enjoyed putting together the Tasting Tents.

“It’s a pretty awesome collection of talent, and states that are represented, and sponsors that have put really cool activations together. Fourth Ward Park is awesome. The Beltline has become this jewel in our city. Ponce City Market is right there. And the area is a good bit larger than we’ve had the past couple of years, which gives us the opportunity to do some really cool things.”

The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, with its wide-ranging assortment of dishes, is back May 30-June 2. CONTRIBUTED BY RAFTERMEN/AFWF
Photo: For the AJC

The Tasting Tents will be home to some 100-plus exhibitors each day, Friday-Sunday (May 31-June 2), and major sponsors, such as Big Green Egg, Four Roses, Knob Creek, High West and Amex, will offer even more goodies.

“Over the last several years, we’ve woven in the opportunity for us to have these ‘trail chefs’ in the tents that change out every day, so there are different things on Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Feichter said. “We’ve done that by creating these curated experiences. This year’s experiences are in keeping with our Southern theme with different bites and flavors.

“Southern Crafted is an area of Southern craft beers. Southern Farm is anything you’d get from the farm — animal, vegetable, sea and land. We created Southern Sips to showcase Southern wines. And then we have a Sweet and Savory tent that combines and contrasts those things. We’ll also have a Big Green Egg grilling area with a beer garden smack in the middle of it.”

Kick off the festival weekend on Thursday night (May 30) at Destination Delicious with a road trip through the South. CONTRIBUTED BY RAFTERMEN / AFWF
Photo: For the AJC

When it comes to not-to-miss weekend events, Feichter is a fan of the relatively bargain-priced Thursday evening (May 30) Destination Delicious kickoff party.

“We’ve been having it at the Stave Room at American Spirit Works the past couple of years, and it’s just become a really great event,” she said. “This year’s theme is Night Market, and it’s the best of street food across the South, so all 13 states will be represented, there will be live music, and great food and beverage, for sure.”

Speaking about another event also set for Thursday evening (May 30), Feichter is particularly proud of the Powerful & Delicious — Heart & Heritage dinner, which was developed to showcase the diversity of female culinary talent around the South.

“It’s an event that’s grown over the years, as a female-led, female talent-driven event that typically has women guests, though anyone is welcome to join us,” Feichter said. “That happens in our Connoisseur Lounge at the hotel, and it’s a wonderful evening, as each chef tells the story of their journey, and features a dish inspired by their cultural background.”

More than 150 chefs, mixologists and sommeliers from Texas to D.C. gathering in Atlanta? We’ll drink to that! CONTRIBUTED BY RAFTERMEN / AFWF
Photo: For the AJC

Tickets and pricing

Destination Delicious — Thursday night (May 30), AF&WF’s annual opening night event will take attendees on a tasting journey through the South, with bites and beverages inspired by the street food traditions of the South and other culinary destinations across the seas. $65. The Stave Room at American Spirit Works, 199 Armour Drive NE, Atlanta.

Powerful & Delicious — Thursday night (May 30), this year’s showcase of female talent in the industry will shine a spotlight on diversity and the unique backgrounds of Southern chefs who are creating their own definition of restaurant culture and breaking the barriers to success. $150. Connoisseur Lounge Kitchen, Loews Atlanta, 1065 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta.

Individual Tasting Tent passes — Friday, Saturday and Sunday (May 31-June 2), the all-inclusive Tasting Tents, which will be at Historic Fourth Ward Park this year, take guests on a delicious journey through the South’s finest flavors, up-and-coming destinations, and most memorable brands. $100 per day.

End the weekend on a sweet note with Sunday brunch — bake sale style. CONTRIBUTED BY RAFTERMEN / AFWF
Photo: For the AJC

Day passes — Depending on the day and price level, pass holders may experience the Master Studio or Learning Experiences, plus festival Tasting Tents. $75-$175.

Multiday passes — Depending on the days and price level, pass holders may experience the Master Studio or Learning Experiences, the Destination Delicious kickoff party, Summer Sizzle Lunch, Sunday Brunch, and Tasting Tents. $350-$500.

Connoisseur passes — All Connoisseur passes include unlimited weekend access to the Tasting Tents, plus daily access to the exclusive Connoisseur Lounge, which features food and beverage presentations by award-winning chefs and beverage experts. It also includes access to the Connoisseur Dinner Series, plus Master Studio or Learning Experiences and other special breakfast, lunch and happy hour events. $515-$1,800.

Connoisseur Dinners — The festival experience continues into the evenings as chefs, sommeliers and mixologists come together to curate dinners at private homes, restaurants and other Atlanta venues. $225 per person, per dinner.

EVENT PREVIEW

2019 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, May 30-June 2. 404-474-7330, atlfoodandwinefestival.com.

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