The third annual Montclair Food & Wine Festival revved up the local restaurant scene last week with four events featuring chef’s tastings, delicious wines, craft beers, artisanal cocktails, live music and crowds of happy eaters. And good vibes – some of the proceeds for these events went to benefit some very worthy causes.*
The week began with the elegant Gala Dinner and auction at The Manor that featured wine-paired plates from FIN Raw Bar & Kitchen, renown chefs Arian Duarte (Ariane Kitchen & Bar), Ryan DePersio (Fascino), Mitchell Altholz (Highlawn Pavilion), Michael Carrino (Pig & Prince), Francesco Palmieri (Orange Squirrel), Zod Arifai (Blu and Next Door), Kevin Sippel (Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen), Meny Vaknin (Mish Mish) and Thomas Ciszak (Chakra and Blue Morel). The wines were curated by Amanti Vino.
BOOK PARTY & BITES
Next up was ‘The Kitchen’ Book Party & Bites, a delightful evening that took place at Watchung Booksellers and featured Geoffrey Zakarian, Katie Lee and Sunny Anderson, stars from the Food Network show “The Kitchen” who were on-hand to greet fans and sign copies of their cookbooks.
Tasty treats from the cookbooks were prepared by Tiny Elephant for fans to enjoy while waiting to meet their Food Network favorites.
Small batch bourbons, cocktails and craft beers were featured(Hudson Pale Ale was a favorite), along with the food that loves them – think burgers (BURG; Anderson's 1949), grilled sausages (Pig & Prince), tacos with a twist (Kimchi Smoke), grilled corn (Villalobos), cheese (La Panzanella Artisanal Foods Co.) and pretzels sticks(and even pretzel-shaped donuts, courtesy of Montclair Bread Company) and many others. Sweet cravings were satisfied by The Pie Store, Gelotti, Jaret's Stuffed Cupcakes and more. New Orleans-inspired live music was provided by the Street Beat Brass Band and added a jaunty note to the balmy night. Here are some highlights:
The Saturday night “Grand Tasting” bash rounded out the week with even more chef tastings both savory & sweet, wines & cocktails curated by Amanti Vino and live jazz performed by The Jack Ferguson Trio. Leir Hall at the Montclair Art Museum set the stage for this sophisticated event.
The Grand Tasting event is so popular that some folks come every year. “I like the people that come and you get to try different things from different restaurants,” said attendee Regina Schenker. “It’s an easy way to try a restaurant. I like that”.
I can’t wait for next year to see what organizer Melody Kettle and her team come up with. Until then, visions of curry chicken sliders and elderflower rum punch will be dancing in my head.
*Portions of the proceeds from the Montclair Food & Wine Festival events went to support the following organizations:
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