[Courtesy of Gustavo Escanelle]

Celebrating 32 Years at the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience

07:00 May 30, 2024
By: Joey Cirilo

There's No Where Like NOWFE

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience | June 5-9

Food and drink: These two pleasures are intrinsically woven into the cultural fabric of the Crescent City.

One could proudly and accurately proclaim that while, yes, as frustratingly beautiful as this city may be, she sure as hell does not skimp out on any opportunity to demonstrate her overarching excellence and proclivity for one-of-a-kind victuals. As the late Anthony Bourdain once stated, "There might be better gastronomic destinations than New Orleans, but there is no place more uniquely wonderful." And while there are few things in life that provide such unbridled joy to those who zealously partake, the only thing better than caving into these primal indulgences is caving into these primal indulgences for a good cause.

Here enters the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (or NOWFE), which is running from June 5 to 9 this year.

[Courtesy of Gustavo Escanelle]

For 32 years, the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience has transformed the city of New Orleans into the ultimate wine and food destination. Oenophiles and cuisine connoisseurs both near and far flock to the city for their annual pilgrimage. The soon-to-be attendees remain perpetually slack-jawed, subconsciously rubbing their stomachs in eager anticipation for the week's festivities, which are centered around an abundance of food and drink. Industry leaders in the hospitality scene, renowned chefs, and worldly winemakers congregate in a unified effort to, yes, display their unmistakable talents but also further educate participants, compete in culinary competitions, and raise funds for local nonprofit organizations that offer food-centric programming.

NOWFE 2024 Events

The kickoff celebration begins with Brennan's and Folio Fine Wines, where guests are greeted with a glass of Brennan's Private Label Piper-Heidsieck Essential and a champagne sabering, followed by a meticulously curated champagne-inspired menu by none other than Executive Chef Ryan Hacker. From there, an assortment of experiences, labs, dinners, and main stage events strategically occupy the five days between June 5 through 9.

[Courtesy of Gustavo Escanelle]

Have you ever dreamed of embarking on a wine tasting tour through the Bordeaux region of France but life and its constraints have prevented you from doing so? Drink French Fluently on June 8 allows one to do just that. Swirl, sniff, and sip your way through France with veteran Sommelier Marika Vida at the New Orleans Marriott in the Warehouse District. Craving a bit more of a party atmosphere with a New Orleans twist? Burlesque, Bubbly, & Brunch at the Omni Royal Hotel on June 9 features a plated brunch, compliments of the chefs at the famous French Quarter hotel. It is partnered with bottomless sparkling wine provided by Luc Belaire, burlesque performances, and a glitter bar.

Interested in coffee cupping (tasting)? Make your way over to 3931 Magazine St. on June 8 to properly assess the aroma and flavor profiles with Current Crop Roasting Shop. Beginners and season veterans alike are welcome, complete with a pastry pairing. Love an old fashioned? June 7 has Picnic, Provisions, & Whiskey offering attendees a hands-on demonstration on how to make the perfect Old Fashioned and will end with a family-style picnic featuring their crawfish boil fried chicken and campfire s'mores.

[Courtesy of Gustavo Escanelle]

The coup de grâce is the appropriately titled Grand Tasting, making its return to the New Orleans Convention Center. Held on Saturday June 8, the Grand Tasting will highlight 1,000 wines from 175 vineyards located throughout the world, as well as 75 local and regional chefs, ranging from novice to established, dishing out plate clearing, finger licking eats to those in attendance.

From introductory cupping and roasting coffee classes, pizza making accompanied with wine pairings, limited production tempranillo and tapas, and more, there truly is something for everyone at New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. Additionally, a variety of ticketing packages provides tiered options, allowing purchasers to comfortably and safely navigate the event whether it's your first year or you are a seasoned professional.

[Courtesy of Gustavo Escanelle]

"We have worked exceptionally hard to bring innovative and remarkable programming to NOWFE, and we're excited to share an eclectic variety of labs and experiences with our attendees," Aimee Brown, NOWFE's executive director, said. "In our 32nd year, we are proud to say this world-class event has raised over $1.5 million for local charities."

For a Good Cause

Since its inception, NOWFE has raised over $1.5 million dollars in funding for local nonprofits. This year's recipients include the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF), Delgado Community College's Culinary Arts Program, and FirstLine School's Edible Schoolyard Program.

[Courtesy of Gustavo Escanelle]

The LRAEF's core purpose is to amplify the hospitality industry's service to the public via community engagement, education, and career opportunities. Delgado's Culinary Arts Program, at 103 years old and running, is the one of the college's longest-tenured and premiere programs, providing students the opportunity to earn a Culinary Arts Association Degree as a Professional Culinarian or with a concentrated focus in the Baking and Pastry Arts. FirstLine's Edible Schoolyard Program brings hands-on garden and kitchen experiences into the classroom. The objective of this signature program is to provide core academic learning, coupled with social and emotional developmental skills, to children who might otherwise never have the opportunity. By doing so, FirstLine curates the long-term well being and success of its students, families, and school communities with positive food-related curricula in the classroom and beyond. All three of this year's beneficiaries perfectly align with NOWFE's mission.

What NOWFE has done is signified that they understand the significance behind the reality that if you love New Orleans, she will in fact love you right back. The festival is about many different things. An eating and drinking extravaganza all culminating around repaying the very community in which a large majority of the chefs participating in it hail from. A group of hard-working, dedicated professionals that represent the backbone of New Orleans. An industry that is the lifeblood to the very city in which it operates. A talent showcase with entertainment and inspiration at its forefront, with a myriad of events available that are capable of satisfying just about anyone's palette. Cheers to 32 years and many more.

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