Annual food events in their fifth year seldom look like their first. Tweaks are made. Kinks are ironed out. When these happen, the true spirit of the event emerges. This certainly happened with the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival. Since it launched in 2014, it’s evolved from a nondescript culinary fete to a fun festival where serious food and drink fans like myself can gather and nerd out. Their most recent festival was no exception. Going to the second half of their two-day Grand Tasting event afforded me the chance to hobnob with Hubert Keller, sample a couple versions of cult whiskey Whistle Pig, indulge in lumpia crafted by Terrace by Mix Mix‘s brilliant chef Ross Pangilinan, and talk viticultural history with seminal California winery Chateau Montelena. Even though I was at the event on assignment, rest assured these cool encounters weren’t influenced by credentials. Anyone in attendance could have taken the exact same path. It’s why the event is worth attending every year.
Now, about that assignment. I put together a recap of the event for the good folks at Sauté Magazine, which can be read here. As you read it, and if you’re the kind of person that geeks out over eating and drinking, don’t view it as an opportunity missed. Rather, take it as a call to attend the event in 2019.