Event planner Kate Reed, formerly affiliated with the Fort Lauderdale Air Show, began planning the Greater Fort Lauderdale Food & Wine Festival after she realized that local restaurant owners and chefs were eager to put together a major event to showcase their offerings. “We were all thinking, 'Why doesn't Broward have its own festival?'"
Now it has one: The inaugural Greater Fort Lauderdale Food & Wine Festival will run March 20 through 24, spotlighting more than 100 of Broward’s local restaurants, craft spirit brands, wineries, and breweries. There will be two special hotel events, a grand tasting on Saturday, and a free family day on Sunday at Hollywood ArtsPark. A part of the event proceeds will benefit Feeding South Florida.
Reed says that the goal is to introduce the 10,000 people that are expected to attend to the culinary revolution taking place in the county. "Part of the goal is to help local businesses grow," she explains. "People don't necessarily think of Broward... as a culinary scene, but we need to let people know that there are amazing restaurants in the area and that they don't have to leave to get a great meal."
Chef Angelo Elia, the event's host, says the focus is not on celebrity chefs, but on chefs that serve Broward residents on a daily basis. "Broward isn't second to any other place in the country. Twenty years ago we couldn't even offer gourmet items, and now we have a diverse gastronomic scene that serves people who see food as an adventure."
Here's a rundown of the festival's events:
Cocktail Confidential: A Spirited Affair. The festival's opening event will take place on the Conrad Hotel's fifth-floor oceanfront pool deck, where mixologist Danwel Olivo will introduce guests to three signature cocktails featuring South Florida's homegrown spirits. Wine from the Wandering Wines and Maison Belle Claire will also be available to pair with bites from Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach’s culinary team. A portion of ticket sales will benefit Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale. 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, at the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, 551 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale Beach. Tickets cost $75 via gflfoodwine.com.
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GFL on the Rise: An Elevated Culinary Experience. Foodies will enjoy cooking demos from local chefs Angelo Elia, Steven D’Apuzzo from the Coastal Restaurant at the Atlantic Hotel, Jorge Ramos from the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, Jen Knox with Damn Good Hospitality, and Rich Stone with Himmarshee Public House. Guests will indulge their taste buds as they take in the Atlantic Hotel's breathtaking, 180-degree oceanfront views. 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 22, at the Atlantic Hotel & Spa; 601 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale Beach. Tickets cost $85 to $150 via gflfoodwine.com.
Grand Tasting. The fair's main event will feature food and drink tastings, chef demonstrations, cooking demos, art installations, live music, and more. There will be a culinary stage and demo kitchen, and chef Ramos from the Conrad Hotel will host and judge a kids' cooking competition. 1 to 5 p.m Saturday, March 23, at ArtsPark Hollywood, 1 N. Young Cir., Hollywood. Tickets cost $60 to $105 via gflfoodwine.com.
Family Day and Food Drive. Rounding out the fair's events is a fun-filled family day presented by Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, featuring local food trucks, live music, and children’s activities including cooking demonstrations. Admission is free, but four canned food items are suggested as a donation. Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 24, at ArtsPark Hollywood, 1 N. Young Cir., Hollywood. Tickets cost $60 to $105 via gflfoodwine.com.
Greater Fort Lauderdale Food and Wine Festival. Wednesday, March 20, through Sunday, March 24, at various locations. For tickets, visit gflfoodwine.com.