The 5th Annual Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival is no more, but what a festival it was! To say it cooked is a little bit of an understatement; it really sizzled! There were celebrity chefs, cooking demos, parties and vendors galore. It was a fine time for anyone even remotely interested in cooking. . . or eating.
Here are just some of the events, the ones I was privileged to attend. There were many more.
The party started on Thursday night with a wild kickoff at The Pool After Dark at Harrah’s Resort. The Pool After Dark, Atlantic City’s hottest night club, was ready for us, but then they’re always ready for a party. Still, the club was hopping with low lights and loud music. Vendors were cooking up a storm on the sidelines, giving everyone a preview of what was to come throughout the weekend.
Friday was a real treat. Our press crew was treated to a trip to a local farm where produce is grown the old-fashioned way. Masters Organic Farms is certified organic and totally GMO-free. This farm provides produce to Caesars Entertainment chefs. As an extra treat, we were served some delightful dishes concocted from the produce by a team of Caesars Entertainment Chefs led by Executive Chef Keith Mitchell.
Friday night brought an even bigger treat, dinner prepared by the one and only Chef Robert Irvine. The cuisine was superb and Chef Robert brought the fun that never stopped. This guy is a born entertainer! He told stories, sang to folks who had birthdays and kept us going from beginning to end.
Saturday brought even more wonderful sights to see, like Blues, Brews & BBQs at Showboat with celebrity chefs Gina and Pat Neely. The House of Blues at Showboat opened its doors to a blues band, a Dixieland band and lots of great food and beer. There was every kind of barbecue imaginable to sample while you enjoyed the music and the ambiance. For the beer aficionados, there was a separate tasting room where you could sample craft beers from all over.
The Neelys turned up again that afternoon, this time at Harrah’s Resort for their “On Stage” appearance. This was a cooking demonstration, along with a question and answer session with the audience. Gina and Pat prepared spiced grilled shrimp skewers with a mango salsa, while cutting up with each other and answering questions.
The newest event at the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival was a beach soiree at Michigan Avenue. This was a late night affair from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and it was a huge hit. Chefs Robert Irvine and Rocco DiSpirito made appearances, along with the Neelys. There was lots of good food and great music on the beautiful Caesars beach.
Sunday brought a wonderful brunch at Nero’s Tuscan Grill. I’ve been there before and this visit didn’t disappoint. Brunch at Nero’s is somewhat hard to describe because there’s so much. You have to really experience it for yourself.
Read a review of a Nero’s brunch here
Sunday afternoon brought a visit to the Grand Market. Grand doesn’t even begin to describe the vendors, the sights, the sounds and the wide array of products available to Food and Wine Festival guests. You could purchase food, cookware, quality wines and other liquors, household products and just about anything you could use in your kitchen and home. It was a mob scene, but, oh, so much fun, especially if you could push your way to the food tables.
It was sad to see it all end, but the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival definitely went out with a bang! The Neelys hosted a luau at Harrah’s Resort. The food was spectacular and the entertainment even more so with the dancers of Hawaiian Luau Entertainment accompanied by the Polynesian Express band. They performed dances from many islands in the south Pacific and taught members of the audience how to do the Hukilau, including Gina and Pat. There was a lot of booty shakin’ going on!
It was an exciting and wonderful four days. The only thing I can tell you is if you missed the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival this year, make sure you don’t miss it next year. Ticket sales usually begin in March. Subscribe to this column to make sure you are there for all the fun in 2014!