Culinary superstars are all aboard for annual Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival July 26-29 .
The annual Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival has grown exponentially since its modest beginnings in 2007 as a two-day food and wine event called Toast to the Coast. Now a four-day event spread over all four Caesars Entertainment properties (Caesars, Bally’s, Harrah’s Resort and Showboat), it has developed into one of the top food festivals on the East Coast.
If the attendance figures from last year’s show are repeated, you can expect more than 20,000 foodies will be on hand to enjoy culinary treats whipped up by a line-up of chefs that includes Food Network’s Paula Deen, Tyler Florence, Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine, and New Jersey’s favorite pastry chef, Buddy Valastro of the TLC channel’s Cake Boss. A couple of exciting newcomers to this year’s event are Andrew Zimmern, star of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, and Nadia G., star of The Cooking Channel’s Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen.
Beyond such regular ACF&W events as the Gospel Brunch; the Blues, Brews and BBQ (both events hosted by Paula Deen, music at the latter by Gary Clark Jr., Eric Gales and Patrick Droney); Define Cheese-Steak, and the always packed Grand Market & Italian Village, a new event that caught my attention this year is Harry’s Oyster Bar Presents Crab Fest on Saturday afternoon. You can’t beat an outdoor party with all-you-can-eat hardshell crabs, peel and eat shrimp and steamers, with a pitcher of beer chaser and sides of corn and coleslaw.
Fans of James Beard award-winning chef Zimmern will no doubt sell out the Bizarre Brunch at Caesars Atlantic Grill Saturday morning. Since his show is about finding unusual food from around the globe, it will be interesting to see just how “bizarre” Zimmern is willing to go.
On the libation side of the festival, New Jersey Says Drink My Beer on Friday evening will be an outdoor event featuring craft brewers from throughout New Jersey introducing their brews, while Gary Monterosso narrates the event and Caesars chefs pair and use these beers to create a tapas menu.
One of the hottest young chefs participating this year is Nadia G (Giosia), whose show Bitchin’ Kitchen Wednesday nights at 10pm on The Cooking Channel is equal parts sketch comedy and cooking. She’s called the “Julia Child of the Net Generation,” since her show began self-produced on the Internet before it was brought to The Cooking Channel. This is her first appearance at the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, but it is not her first trip to the region.
Born and raised in Montreal, her family was part of the regular Canadian migration to the Jersey shore. “My parents took me down to Wildwood every summer when I was a kid,” says Nadia, “and my dad would always make a pilgrimage to Atlantic City and take us along. He would go play at the casinos and my mom and I would go shopping.”
She explains that Bitchin’ Kitchen was inspired by her childhood spent in an Italian kitchen. “Food was always front and center, but it wasn’t just about the food, it was about the fun we would have in the kitchen; it’s where we would discuss everything. The idea of bringing fun conversation, a couple of laughs together with a great meal is second nature to me.”
For the Food and Wine Festival, Nadia will be doing a cooking demonstration at the Viking Cooking School, a book signing and will be one of the hosts of Sweet and Stylish, mixing a fashion show with fabulous desserts.
“I love doing cooking demos,” says Nadia. “Bitchin’ Kitchen is shot like a sitcom on a closed set and no one is allowed to laugh at my jokes, so when I get to do it live and interact with the crowd I have the best time.”
A Time for Wine II, a new wine, beer, liquor and cigar shop at Caesars has added free wine tastings during the Food and Wine Festival. Friday features New Jersey's Best Wine Sampling 7-9pm, featuring Nucky's Boardwalk Red, Nucky's Speak Easy Reserve. Saturday, 7-9pm will feature a Goose Island Beer tasting with Honker's Ake, India Pale Ale and Summertime.
Schedule of Events - 2012 Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival
Thursday, July 26
• Poolside Launch Party, 8-11pm; $55.
The Pool at Harrah’s; Sneak peek of festival highlights with Anne Burrell, Andrew Zimmern.
Friday, July 27
• The Grand Market & Italian Village (Session 1), 6-10pm; $55.
Grand Ballroom, Bally’s; A gourmet village of more than 100 stations showcasing demonstrations by culinary personalities.
• Diane Henderiks: Viking Cooking School, 6-7pm; $65.
Viking Cooking School, Harrah’s
• Dinner Impossible with Chef Robert Irvine, 7-10pm; $85.
Arturo’s at Bally’s; Join Robert Irvine for a dinner experience.
• Define “Cheese-Steak”, 8-11pm; $65.
Main Lot at Showboat; Ultimate cheesesteak tasting party hosted by Andrew Zimmern.
• Book Signing with Andrew Zimmern, 8-9pm; $99.
Circus Maximus Theater, Caesars
• New Jersey Says Drink My Beer, 10pm-mid; $55.
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