I’m full and I can’t possibly eat another bite, or, notes and quotes collected from a weekend covering the second Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival, which drew huge crowds to more than 40 events over four days:
The four-day festival, presented by Harrah’s Entertainment and the TV Food Network, may have ended Sunday, Aug. 1, but at least one celebrity chef was hoping to extend his stay, quite possibly for a long time.
Not only did Guy Fieri set out across southern New Jersey to record segments for his popular Diners, Drive-ins and Dives series, but the spiked-haired chef — who also hosts the game show Minute to Win It on NBC — is seriously thinking of opening a restaurant in Atlantic City.
“Serious as a heart attack,” the 42-year-old California native said. “You give me a year, 18 months at the most, and I’m gonna have a restaurant here. Bet on it.”
As if to underscore his commitment to planting some local culinary roots, Fieri scheduled a late-night tour with Jay Snowden, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s Resort, to look at possible locations there.
Fieri is a co-owner of five restaurants in California called Johnny Garlic’s and Tex Wasabi’s.
If Fieri does make good on his promise/threat to open an eatery here, he might be getting a little friendly competition. During her “Boardwalk Party” at Bally’s — which featured her own low-country cuisine — Paula Deen let it slip that she’s hoping to begin discussions soon with Harrah’s Entertainment that could lead to her first Atlantic City restaurant.
Deen already has a relationship with Harrah’s Entertainment. She’s opened Paula Deen Buffets at Harrah’s Tunica in Mississippi and at Harrah’s Horseshoe in Indiana and also has a dining room called Paula Deen’s Kitchen at Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina.
In between appearances at the festival, the 63-year-old self-made cook, who turned a catering business she operated out of her home into a food empire, had time to snuggle up with one of her favorite slot machines at Caesars Atlantic City. Deen is a big slots player and often sneaks into Atlantic City just to play.
“Honey, I am a slot slut,” she told me before breaking into her infectious and raucous laugh. “That’s why they like me coming here, so much, because I usually end up giving all the money [they pay me] back.”
Ted Allen liked what he saw when he returned for his second year as an event host for the Food & Wine Festival. Allen, now a Food Network personality and the former food and wine connoisseur on Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, hosted a combination wine tasting and art show. Three artists sampled the wine and then used the wine and the surroundings — an ocean view from One Atlantic on The Pier at Caesars — to create paintings on the spot and guests watched the art come to life before their eyes.
“This year, Harrah’s Entertainment made the really smart decision to work with the Food Network and take this event into the stratosphere, and I hear they sold 50-percent more tickets than last year, and in a down economy no less,” Allen said. That tells you about the drawing power of the Food Network. “People really want to see their favorite Food Network stars, especially people like Paula Deen. She’s a rock star.”
Among other events over the weekend, Pat and Gina Neely, the husband-and-wife team who host Down Home with The Neelys on the Food Network, presided over their version of a down home gospel brunch at the House of Blues at Showboat on Sunday. In addition to working the sold-out Music Hall trying to meet as many fans as possible, the Neelys also joined a gospel choir on stage to sing some soul-stirring hymns.
See video here of the Neelys at the Food & Wine Festival.
“Atlantic City was very smart to [add] a gospel brunch this year, because they’re taking this [festival] to a whole ‘nother level,” Gina Neely said. “They’ve got all kinds of [events], so why not bring in a little gospel brunch to bring the Lord in?”
Although the numbers are still being added up, it appears the second Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival was a success that met or even exceeded expectations of the organizers.“We’re seeing many new faces, which means people who don’t ordinarily come to Atlantic City came here because of [the festival],” said Jennifer Weissman, regional marketing vice president for Harrah’s Entertainment.
The new year was barely a few weeks old when its first major celebrity scandal erupted.
Culinary superstars are all aboard for annual Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival July 26-29
After announcing the dates, July 26-29, Caesars Entertainment Atlantic City has announced a few of the celebrity chef participants for the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, namely Anne Burrell, Paula Deen, Robert Irvine, Buddy Valastro and Andrew Zimmern, with further announcements to come.
Phillips Seafood chef Paul Drew made an appeal to Atlantic City's hungry lushes, hosting a "Spiked Lunch" event and serving six cocktails batched out to complement four courses of soused shellfish, and dessert.
Here is a comprehensive guide for parking and transportation for the thousands upon thousands of visitors to this weekend's Food Network extravaganza, including a detailed listing of each event.
Last year’s Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival was good enough to earn a reputation as one of the top such events on the east coast.
Atlantic City will be the center of the culinary world when the Food Network Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, hosted by Harrah’s Entertainment, begins with the official kick-off party at the Chelsea Hotel Thursday, July 29. Not only is this an amazing event for people who love to eat great food and mingle with culinary superstars, it also raises money for the charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure Central & South Jersey.