The fourth annual Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival kicked off its its three-day run on Thursday, March 30 by welcoming the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) to present its 2017 International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing award to the Yealands Family Wines of Marlborough, New Zealand.
The Winemaker Toast & Sabre Celebration took place at the VIP beginning of Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival BBQ Showdown at W.R. Watt Arena at Will Rogers Memorial Center. Among the attendees was Fort Worth’s Ashton Theiss, a TCU graduate and realtor who stint on CBS’s ‘The Amazing Race’ would premiere later that night.
Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival
Proceeds from the festival go to the Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization that raises funds for local grant programs and culinary scholarships. To date, the FWFW Foundation has awarded about $70,000 in scholarships to students from Fort Worth.
Ticket prices start at $55.
Thursday, March 30 to Saturday, April 1
Over three delicious days and nights (March 30 – April 1), various venues around Fort Worth will host events for this year’s Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival. It is one of North Texas’ most celebrated cuisine and beverage festivals and encompasses five culinary events to relish.
Thursday, March 30, 6 to 9 p.m.
W.R. Watt Arena at Will Rogers Memorial Center
Pit masters from across the state will launch the festival in style. Come hungry and ready to enjoy barbecue along with some tasty sides from around North Texas and the famed Hill Country. Look for lots of great barbecue-worthy beverages as well. Fans will select their favorite dish, which will be crowned “The Best BBQ of the FWFWF.”
A few notable participants including Emma and Travis Heim of Heim Barbecue, Barrett Blacka of Black’s BBQ, and John Sanford of BBQ on the Brazos will serve up succulent brisket, bones and burnt-bacon-ends.
Pro tip: Take it from someone who wore sandals on the dirt floor of the Watt arena last year (#WhatWasIThinking), boots and closed-toe shoes are a must.
The Main Event
Friday March 31, 6 to 9 p.m.
Pier 1 Imports Building
More than 100 exceptional wines will be poured along with craft beers and spirits to pair perfectly with food from the best North Texas chefs, restaurateurs, artisan producers and crafters. Along with Jon Bonnell of Bonnell’s Restaurant Group and Marcus Paslay of Clay Pigeon and Piattello, John Tesar of Knife will make his second appearance at FWFWF.
“People expect a chef to show up at these events, and cooked-to-order is all I know how to do,” said Tesar. He plans to take advantage of the open-air lower level at the Pier 1 venue to cook outdoors and will be serving festival-goers Whole Hog served carnitas-style. “It is always a good chance to connect with your audience. People will often recognize you. But when a customer meets you at one of these events and then comes to visit your restaurant, that’s the real pay-off.”
Pro tip: Download and use the Uber app, or choose a designated driver. Every sip of these world-class wines adds up, and there are wines for every palate.
Desserts After Dark
Friday, March 31, 9 to 11:30 p.m.
The Shack at Panther Island
Time to sip a true Texas cocktail, enjoy sweet somethings and dance the night away. Twelve pastry chefs and 12 mixologists will create special desserts and drinks – and guests will vote for their favorites. DJ Jason Esquire will be mixing tunes to light up the night, too. Look for Carolyn Phillips of Alchemy Pops, Lindsey Lawing of Sweet Lucy’s Pies and cocktails by Thompson’s to be on hand.
Pro tip: If you went to Main Event beforehand, chances are that you won’t be hungry. This event is not as crowed as some others and it’s a great opportunity to really get to know some of the purveyors personally.
Rise + Dine
Saturday, April 1, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Pier 1 Imports Building
Saturday brunch gets chefy, with noted area restaurants contributing some incredible dishes. Plus you can enjoy a generous selection of craft beer, specialty wines and spirits. Or give your favorite brunch-time beverages an upgrade at the fun mimosa and bloody mary bars.
Brunch will be served by the likes of Lanny Lancarte of Righteous Foods, Brandon Moors of Funky Town Donuts and Virginia Dalbeck of Cork & Pig Tavern, to name a few.
Chef Dalbeck is planning a gluten-free offering. “Our brunch dish will be a chilaquiles with our signature pork loin, corn chips and scrambled egg, doused in tomatillo salsa. The salsa is actually gluten free and vegan. It’s made from tomatillos, cilantro, lime, garlic, onion, avocado and a smoked and seeded serrano pepper,” she said. “Food and wine festivals are always a great way to mingle and meet the other chefs. I love after it slows down and all the chefs share each other’s food, while sipping on some wine. It is always fun and very rare for all the local chefs to be in the same place at the same time.”
Pro tip: Breakfast and brunch dishes are often carb-loaded splurge items. So plan to pace yourself. Remember you need to save room for burgers later.
Burgers, Brews + Blues
Saturday, April 1, 6 to 9 p.m.
Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork
The shady Heart of the Ranch is an ideal location for celebrating a trio of all-American classics – sliders, craft beer and blues. Chefs will be grilling their best miniature burgers and 22 craft breweries will be pouring two of their beers. Celebrity judges will choose their favorite burger, while diners will again select a fan favorite for both burgers and beer. Throughout the evening, enjoy the live blues band lineup.
Among burger powerhouses like Hans Peter Muller of Swiss Pastry Shop and Daniel Pittman of LUCK, chef Blaine Staniford of Grace and Little Red Wasp will also be on hand.
Last year Staniford crafted a wild and wonderful “Mexican Street Burger” that had a hot dog with ketchup and mustard right in the meat patty. Who knows what he will unveil at this year’s event? “The FWFWF is a great way to bring the community into the food culture of our city and continue to make Fort Worth a food and drink destination,” said Adam Jones, owner of both Grace and Little Red Wasp.
Pro tip: This is an excellent opportunity to sample and pick your favorite local beers from some of the best Texas and local breweries. Strike up a conversation with someone sporting a beard; he’s probably a brewer.