The 8th Annual Greenwich Wine + Food Festival presented by PepsiCo drew over 5,000 people to Roger Sherman Baldwin Park to celebrate this area’s fantastic culinary scene. Throughout the two-day event, guests ate their fill of gourmet foods, sampled fine wines and spirits, and enjoyed live music from world-class musicians, including superstar Tim McGraw. The weekend gave back to several worthy charities: the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), the Festival’s primary beneficiary, as well as Ment’or and the Town of Greenwich Parks and Recreation Foundation. Here are some of the memorable highlights from September 21 and 22:
The festivities started on Friday, when famed restaurateur Alex Guarnaschelli and the 2018 Serendipity Most Innovative Chefs were honored at the Opening Night Master Chef Wine Dinner. This year, the esteemed group included: Susanne Berne (Bianco Rosso), Ben Freemole (The Tavern at Gray Barns), Julio Genao (Prime Stamford), Cedric Lamouille (Bistro V), Jay LeBlanc (Knot Norm’s Catering Co.), Armando Sanchez (Washington Prime), Ben Pope (Mr. Koo’s Kitchen), Antonio Selendic (Dubrovnik), Brad Stewart (Flinders Lane). The Innovative Chefs, as well as the Festival Ambassador Chefs, prepared and served their creative cuisines to guests, making for an intimate experience between guests and chefs.
The Festival’s Ambassador Chefs also cooked and served their specialty dishes to guests (including special guests celebrity chef Scott Conant, Adam Richman of Man V. Food and Master of Ceremonies, Howard Stern executive producer Gary Dell’Abate), who enjoyed them along with expertly selected wines and perfectly crafted cocktails. Musical performances by Karen Zimmer and the CCB Reggae All-Stars completed the evening’s entertainment.
Saturday was a gorgeous early fall day, packed with opportunities to try new wines and food. The heart of the Festival on Saturday, as always, was the Grand Tasting Tent, where over 150 vendors offered their sips and bites to enthusiastic foodies. Throughout the day, mega-chefs and food personalities like culinary legend Daniel Boulud, Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli, Adam Richman and Christian Petroni did cooking demos, gave entertaining interviews and participated in playful games in the Celebrity Green Room presented by Ethan Allen, and signed cookbooks for fans in the NuKitchens Celebrity Book Signing tent. The Today Show’s Kathie Lee Gifford then brought these bold-faced names together for a casual and engaging conversation, as part of the Meet the Masters Panel. Competition was as fierce as ever at the Burger Battle (Cask Republic took home the “Judge’s Choice award while Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar was named “People’s Choice”) and the Top Bartender Showdown presented by Ketel One (Katie Fiore of Match won “Judge’s Choice”, while Catherine Larkin from Village Social won “People’s Choice”). Food trucks, the South of the Border tent presented by Don Julio, The Tailgate tent, casino games in the Empire City Casino tent and lawn games were additional Saturday highlights. Guests in the Lifewtr VIP Tent indulged in an exclusive dinner cooked by the Festival’s Ambassador Chefs, with some opting for premiere on-stage or lawn dinners. Finally, Greenwich locals DJ April Larken and Caroline Jones warmed the crowd up for Grammy award-winning superstar Tim McGraw, whose electrifying performance was a fitting end to a remarkable weekend.