Greenwich Wine+Food Festival to deliver good eats and entertainment

Steven Laitmon, at right, hands out samples of the all natural, organic cookies baked by Nothin’ But Premium Foods to Jerry Fuentes and Nathalie Hazan. — John Ferris Robben photo

Steven Laitmon, at right, hands out samples of the all natural, organic cookies baked by Nothin’ But Premium Foods to Jerry Fuentes and Nathalie Hazan.
— John Ferris Robben photo

For the fourth year in a row, the Greenwich Wine+Food Festival will bring an exciting array of fine delicacies, exotic drinks and thrilling entertainment to town for an impressive weekend.

Presented by Serendipity magazine, the event will span three days beginning with tonight’s raw bar and wine tasting at L’Escale Restaurant. The Greenwich Wine+Food Festival gathers more than 100 restaurants and food vendors along with a number of famous chefs and celebrities. Some 4,500 attendees from Greenwich and beyond are expected to make their way to Roger Sherman Baldwin Park throughout the weekend, as the festival lasts through Saturday, Sept. 27.

Things will kick off with oysters and wine for the raw bar event at L’Escale tonight, Sept. 25. The evening will celebrate the event’s sponsors and charity beneficiary, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Castello Banfi will provide wines to accompany L’Escale’s fine oysters and a full bar and hors d’oeuvres will be available as well.

“We’re so excited to be back for our fourth year, honoring and celebrating the area’s culinary community, while raising money for an amazing, local charity,” Suni Unger, founder and CEO of Unger Publishing, the publisher of Serendipity magazine, said. “As the festival continues to grow, we have a number of new events and new faces that will be debuting this year, mixed in with many new and returning food and wine vendors. I guarantee that everyone that attends will learn a new thing or two about food and wine, and try something new they’ve never had before!”

On Friday night, the festival will play host to the 2014 Most Innovative Chef Gala at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park. Geoffrey Zakarian and Jean-Georges will be among the chefs honored during an intimate evening of wine, cocktails and expertly prepared dishes. Local chefs David Synder of Char, Reuben Palma of Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse and Gustave Christman of Harvest Wine Bar and Restaurant will be among the 14 most innovative chefs in the area.

The evening will also feature a live auction hosted by Greenwich resident Gary Dell’abate and live music provided by the Marshall Tucker Band. Special guest Kathie Lee Gifford, a Greenwich resident as well, will make an appearance as well as she enjoys the launch of her new wine brand GIFFT, and she joked about her reputation for enjoying her wine.

“I am thrilled to be a part of this year’s festival. I just recently launched my own line of GIFFT wines in partnership with the Scheid Vineyards in Monterey, Calif.,” Ms. Gifford said in a statement sent to the Post. “My love for wine seems to be a well-established fact thanks to Jimmy Fallon and others. Although if I drank as much as they say I do I doubt I’d be able to host the fourth hour of the Today Show with Hoda on a daily basis. It’s been fun going to many of our local restaurants like Valbella, Terra and L’Escale and being able to order our wine and share it with friends. I love buying rounds for unsuspecting diners at separate tables. What a way to make friends.”

Saturday will bring the Culinary Village, the centerpiece of the Wine+Food Festival. Vendors will fill Roger Sherman Baldwin Park from noon to 10, serving their best fare to attendees throughout the day. Along with a vast selection of wine and food tastings, there will be a number of enticing competitions, including the fourth annual Burger Battle hosted by former Man v. Food host Adam Richman and the debuting Top Bartender Showdown.

Celebrity chef Aaron Sancez, who opened his new restaurant in Paloma earlier this year, will host a special Tequila and Tostadas event on Saturday for those willing to purchase a special event ticket. Chef Sanchez will provide expertly prepared tostadas complete with unique ingredients including crab, tuna and lobster. Tequila will be provided by Casamigos, a brand co-founded by George Clooney that is quickly gaining attention.

The festival will support The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children with cancer, sickle cell anemia and other serious conditions. All proceeds from the silent auction and The Ashford based-organization was founded by actor Paul Newman in 1988. All proceeds from Friday’s auction and 10% of all ticket sales will be donated to the auction. This is the third year that the festival has partnered with The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, and Ms. Unger said that the partnership will continue “as long as they’ll have us.”

“I’m particularly delighted that profits from this event will go to The Hole in the Wall Gang,” Ms. Gifford said. “I long ago partnered with Paul Newman when he first started the charity and was honored to call him a friend. His legacy and commitment to children lives on.”

Participating Greenwich restaurants and vendors include Barcelona, Char, Cook & Craft, Cos Cobber, Fairfield Cheese Company, Gabrieles, Green & Tonic, Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant, Morello Bistro, Old Greenwich Fine Wines, The Gingerman, Tomatillo, Versailles Bistro and Wendy’s Weenies.

Tickets are available online via Greenwichwineandfood.com or by calling 203-588-1363. Tickets for Saturday’s Culinary Village start at $95, Thursday night’s Oysters & Wine event at L’Escale cost $125 per person and admission to Friday night’s Most Innovative Chef Gala is $325. Individual and weekend VIP ticket packages are available as well.

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