The fifth-annual Greenwich Food + Wine Festival, an extravaganza that celebrates Connecticut’s culinary scene sponsored by Serendipity magazine, drew thousands of wine and food lovers to Roger Sherman Baldwin Park over the weekend.
The four-day festival, which kicked off with a series of dinners on Wednesday and culminated with the main Culinary Village event on Saturday, was bigger and better than years past. More than 150 vendors offered guests samples of mouthwatering dishes, savory snacks, sweet desserts and wine and spirit tastings on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Among the tasty treats in the main tent were steak strips from Benjamin Steakhouse, tuna tacos from Little Pub, samples from Fleishers Craft Butchery and cupcakes courtesy of Sweet Lisa’s Exquisite Cakes. Pours from Quintessential Wines, 90+ Cellars and Shaw Vineyards, among others, were flowing.
Guests paced themselves by sampling the finalists in the “Do Us a Flavor: Tastes of America” contest sponsored by Lay’s that included potato chips flavors like Southern Biscuits & Gravy, West Coast Truffle Fries and New York Reuben. People cleansed their palates with endless Pepsi-owned soda, juice and water bottles.
Throughout the afternoon, attendees also packed into demonstration tents where celebrity chefs showed how to make specialty dishes at home. Adam Richman, of the Travel Channel and Man vs. Food fame, teamed with Connecticut meteorologist Matt Scott to get the crowd going with their Malbec burger. Alex Guarnaschelli, an Iron Chef and a regular judge on the Food Network’s Chopped, also revealed cooking tricks for crowds.
Other popular tents were the Empire City Casino, where guests tried their luck, and The Budweiser + Burgers tent, where local restaurants served up custom-crafted burgers to be judged by a panel of celebrity chefs, including Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian, Rocco DiSpirito, Terry French and Harold Dieterle. Plan B won the Judges’ Choice for Best Burger, while Westchester Burger won the People’s Choice.
Moderated by Gary Dell’Abate, the executive producer of The Howard Stern Show and better known as “Baba Booey,” the Top Bartender Showdown featured local mixologists serving custom cocktails created with KEEL Vodka. Experts and guests alike voted on their favorite. Sasha Jarufe, of Harvest Wine Bar in Greenwich, won the Judges’ Choice Top Bartender award, while Dimitrios Zahariadis, of Highland Brass Co. in Waterbury, Connecticut, won the People’s Choice award.
Other special appearances included Today hosts Kathie Lee Gifford (who offered tastings of her wine, Gifft) and Hoda Kotb. On the main festival stage, Country Music Award winners Little Big Town performed, presented by Pepsi.
The event benefited Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, founded in 1988 by late actor Paul Newman with the premise that every ill child could experience the transformational spirit and friendships that go hand-in-hand with camp.