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North Delta Food and Wine Festival

By Katie Sloan
In Center Block
Aug 28th, 2017
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Third Annual North Delta Food and Wine Festival

Food and beverage enthusiasts will gather in the Twin Cities the weekend of October 13th through 15th to celebrate the third annual North Delta Food and Wine Festival.  Each year, the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council showcases the talents of local chefs, as well as visiting culinary artists.  Proceeds from the event benefit the Arts Council and its efforts to support and promote the arts in Louisiana Cultural Region 8.

The festival kicks off Friday night with the “Rare Culinary Collaboration,” a three-hour tasting extravaganza that features foods created by more than 25 southern chefs. King of Louisiana Seafood 2016, Chef Blake Phillips will serve as emcee for the evening.

Throughout the event, guests will have the chance to sample each chef’s offerings at booths and displays set up throughout the West Monroe Convention Center.  A variety of fine wines and craft beers will also be available for sampling.  Festival sponsors will be afforded reserved parking and early admittance to the event before the doors officially open at 6 p.m.

Later that evening, ticketholders will have an opportunity to mingle with their favorite chefs as the party moves to SQ’s on the River in downtown Monroe.  Admission to the “Chef’s Party” is included in the $50 ticket price.

Our first two years have been a tremendous success and garnered lots of enthusiasm among participating chefs and festival goers.  This year should be even better.  With the first year a sellout, the Arts Council expanded in year two and moved to a larger venue for Friday night in 2016.

“The larger venue coupled with an expanded list of participating chefs provided a great evening,” recalled Barry Stevens, President of the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council.

While the list of participants is not finalized, a number of local chefs have committed to the event, including Thurman Dickey of Thurman’s Food Factory, Rachel Genusa-Dickey of Genusa’s Restaurant, Chris McKnight of The Fat Pelican, Durwin Francescon of Restaurant Sage, Leah Parker from Iron Cactus, Angie O’Pry-Blades with The Good Earth Juice and Salad Bar, Joel Myers of Castor and Chickory, Cody Wallace,  Chef Pat Nolan of Pat Nolan Catering, Dana Milford with For His Temple Family Foods, Clélie Stone of Stone House Eats in Rayville and Mitch Bratton with Willie’s Truck Yard in Monroe and Lake Charles.

Traveling from beyond the Twin Cities are notable chefs Ryan André of City Port Brasserie in Baton Rouge, Simon Brown of Seafood R’evolution in Ridgeland, Mississippi, Blake Jackson of Drake Catering in Shreveport, Mark Quitney and Deanna Hoffman of Roux Bistro-Sheraton New Orleans, Tom Ramsey from stäge in Jackson, Mississippi and Jeremy Enfinger of County Seat restaurant in Livingston, Mississippi.  These chefs will participate at the Friday evening tasting and stay to contribute their talents throughout the weekend.

Chef Tom Ramsey of Jackson, Mississippi will co-host a wine and food pairing event at Restaurant Sage with Chef Durwin Francescon. Tom loves to share his expertise as a sommelier and Durwin has partnered with him to bring back this popular event.

Area restaurants will also host seated, multi-course dinners Saturday night. They will be offering elaborately planned meals prepared by celebrated chefs.  Working with Chef Chris McKnight at The Fat Pelican will be a group of chefs he has assembled.  A lover of pairing food, wine and beer, he will present a meal designed to celebrate all three.

Gluten free is the focus of the evening at For His Temple in West Monroe.  Dana Milford has put together a five-course meal sourced locally and all gluten free.  For those diners requiring a dairy free option, she will be able to accommodate that requirement also.

Not one to be out done, Chef Pat Nolan is set to host an evening of fine food and wines at her location on Louisville Avenue. All Saturday night events will be giving back to the arts by donating a portion of their proceeds to a designated arts organization.

If these activities aren’t enough for you, you’ll have the chance Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to sample craft beers and partake of lighter fare on the first ever Brew on the Bridge, which will be held on the Endom Bridge spanning the Ouachita River. The bridge will closed for three hours, allowing patrons plenty of time to enjoy food, beer, and fun.  Area musicians will provide a live music backdrop while you stroll the Endom Bridge and enjoy the one-of-a-kind view.

Sunday, October 15th, the festival concludes with a Southern Fried Chicken and Champagne Bruch at Casio’s Chateau in Monroe.

Festival posters are back this year.  Artist Molly Engen has designed this year’s poster which will be available at the Friday night event.  There will be a limited run so you’ll want to get yours early.

Stevens notes that this fun-filled weekend is made possible through the generosity and support of the festival’s sponsors, restaurants, beverage distributors, chefs, volunteers and art enthusiasts.  Stevens credits the event to the “tireless efforts and remarkable generosity” of a community that supports the arts. That fits well with the foodie community, too, Chef Blake points out.

“Our goal is two-fold, first to showcase the rich food culture in our part of Louisiana and second to support the Arts Council,” Blake says.

Phillips adds, “The Arts Council recognizes that food and cooking is an art form, particularly in Louisiana. It’s important to celebrate this form of art and support the good work the Arts Council is doing to promote the overall art culture of our region.”

Tickets are limited and must be purchased at www.northdeltafoodandwinefestival.com.  The website also provides links and information about the seated dinners along with phone numbers to make reservations.  Follow North Delta Food and Wine Festival on Facebook for updates and information.