2014 Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival

Fort Worth is a city rich with talent in the culinary arts. It’s time for the world to get a taste! The four-day festival honors the distinctive and diverse nature of Fort Worth’s culinary and beverage scene.

Set for March 27-30, 2014, the first annual Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival will infuse historic venues and homegrown flavor with celebrated local chefs, culinary professionals and winemakers into one taste-filled weekend.
    The Festival focuses on three core factors: to promote—to bring national and regional attention to the Fort Worth food scene, as well as to assist in sustaining chefs, restaurants and the local ranching & farming community; to give back—to raise funds for local grant programs and culinary scholarships; to educate—to elevate the skills and culinary knowledge of the general consumer, and to provide internship experiences for those interested in pursuing a career in the culinary industry.
| by Alison Rich and Jennifer Casseday-Blair |




Dawning of a Festival
A few words from the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival’s cofounder, Russell Kirkpatrick, about how it all came to be.
My first thoughts about a possible food and wine festival occurred several years ago in a field in Buffalo Gap, Texas. As I surveyed the scene for the annual Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit, there was a recurring theme. I was there with our Reata team as was Jon Bonnell, Tim Love, Michael Thomson and Grady Spears. Our fine city was represented well in that red dirt 2 1/2 hours west of home. If people flocked to see these chefs here, why shouldn’t we highlight these talented individuals in Fort Worth? And that’s where it started. 
    Fast forward to March 2014. Plans have been made, committees have been formed, and events have been scheduled. The one thing that stays the same as it was a few years ago is the food. The participating chefs are the individuals that spend hours over hot stoves, weekends away from their family and friends, late nights and early mornings planning, preparing and prepping our next great meal. Each and every one of them has given tirelessly to make Fort Worth a better place to live. They make it a better place for others to visit. They make it my home. They have made a dream that started in Tom Perini’s field come true and for that, I will be forever grateful. 
    I’d also like to thank my beautiful wife, Jennifer. Without her, this festival may still very well be a bunch of crazy ideas that she has to listen to me babble about. —Russell Kirkpatrick



Twenty at the Tower,
June 2 – July 29, 2013

Pop-up Restaurant on Throckmorton
For 20 amazing nights last summer, the Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation hosted visiting chefs to cook intimate dinners for 50 diners each night at the pop-up restaurant event, Twenty at the Tower. Iconic Fort Worth chefs such as Tim Love, Jon Bonnell and Blaine Staniford dazzled diners, and visiting chefs such as Matt McCallister, John Tesar and Jason Dady amazed us with fantastic flavors. The communal dining experience allowed diners to meet fellow food lovers and leave as friends.

Perfect Pairings,
Oct. 15, 2013

City Club of Fort Worth
Last fall marked the first ever collaboration between two of Fort Worth’s favorite festivals in a one-of-a-kind evening of perfect culinary and musical pairings. Fort Worth Opera and Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival joined forces to present “Perfect Pairings,” an event designed to treat both aficionados of the culinary arts and entertainment lovers alike, to an evening proving great classical music, just like a fine wine, is the perfect complement to a delicious meal. FWOpera General Director Darren K. Woods, Fort Worth culinary favorite Chef Gilbert Rivera, and a guest sommelier designed a four-course tasting menu inspired by the decadence and romance of Italy, featuring a perfectly paired trio of food, wine and song. From ravioli to Rossini and prosecco to Puccini, the evening’s experts detailed the connections between the cuisine and music while talented artists from the Fort Worth Opera Studio performed classic Italian arias.

Kickoff Party

Attendees will whet their appetites for foodie festing at the inaugural Kickoff Party, where a dozen of Fort Worth’s most impressive chefs will prep tastings teamed with Texas-made craft beers, wines and spirits. Contributing chefs include Jon Bonnell (Bonnell’s and Waters), Terry Chandler (Fred’s Texas Cafe), Keith Hicks (Buttons), Mark Hitri (Billy Bob’s Texas), Lanny Lancarte (Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana), Tim Love (Lonesome Dove), Molly McCook (Ellerbe Fine Foods), Dena Peterson (Café Modern), Juan Rodriguez (Reata), Blaine Staniford (Grace), Michael Thomson (Michaels) and Donatella Trotti (Nonna Tata). Texas country artist Stoney LaRue will serve up the live tunes.
Thursday, March 27
Billy Bob’s Texas at 250 Rodeo Plaza
7–9 p.m. / $65

Grand Tasting
A spirited affair of epic proportions, this one boasts upwards of 100 wineries, craft breweries and distilleries — including local darlings Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. and Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co., which will both host a lounge. Many of the area’s most famous chefs (John Tesar of Spoon, Tom Perini of Perini Ranch Steakhouse and Matt McCallister of FT33, to mention just a sprinkling), restaurateurs and food artisans will round out this event’s exceptionally grand crew.
Friday, March 28
Renaissance Worthington Hotel at 200 Main St.
7–11 p.m. / $125

Tastes of the World: An Epicurean Stroll Through the Arts
Trot the gourmand globe — Fort Worth-style — at Tastes of the World, a progressive lunch designed with fine-art buffs in mind. Guests will sip on rare vinos and indulge in exquisite cuisine while viewing exclusive performances by the city’s foremost talent troupes. And with just 150 seats to be had, this gastronomic tour de force is an especially rare treat.
Saturday, March 29
Bass Performance Hall at 555 Commerce St.
11 a.m.–1 p.m. / $500

Burgers, Brews and Blues
Ticket holders will boogie the evening away at one of the most “Fort Worthy” outdoor venues in town: the historic Edwards Ranch. Twenty-six craft breweries (including locally born and bred Rahr & Sons and Martin House) will tap a wellspring of thirst-busting suds, while 13 big-name burger joints like Fred’s, Tommy’s and Dutch’s will chef up their signature sliders. (Carnivores — and napkins — definitely required!) A bevy of live blues bands add a third layer of irresistible flavor. The VIP admission gains attendants reserved seating and early entreé.
Saturday, March 29
Edwards Ranch/Heart of the Ranch at 500 Clearfork Main St.
5–9 p.m. / $60 or $75 (VIP)

Sip + Savor
Drinks meet eats at this taste-trying utopia, where wines, craft beers and other exotic elixirs pair with petite bites from Fort Worth’s most raved-about new eateries like Velvet Taco and Little Lilly Sushi. This is the perfect chance to rub elbows with Cowtown’s most notable culinary pros — and score some takeaway tips for your own kitchen adventures in the process.
Saturday, March 29, and Sunday, March 30
Renaissance Worthington Hotel at 200 Main St.
11 a.m.–2 p.m. / $75 per day

Meals On Wheels for Meals On Wheels
The final credits for this year’s Food + Wine Fest will roll at Meals on Wheels for Meals on Wheels, starring 12 of North Texas’ tasty, famed food trucks — including Taco Heads, Daddy Bob’s Smokewagon and Salsa Limon. Also headlining this drive-in dining experience: live musical acts and old-fashioned chuck wagons — aka, the original rolling restaurants. A “movable feast” with a philanthropic mission, it benefits Meals On Wheels Inc. of Greater Tarrant County.
Sunday, March 30
Coyote Drive-In at 223 N.E. 4th St.
3–5 p.m. / $50


Graham Dodds | Hibiscus
John Tesar | Spoon
Jeff Harris | AF+B
Marcus Paslay | Clay Pigeon
Mark Hitri | Billy Bob’s
Jason Dady | Multiple San Antonio Restaurants
Jerrett Joslin | The Wild Mushroom
Kevin Martinez | Tokyo Café
Scott Gottlich | Bijoux
Andre Natera | Pyramid Restaurant & Bar
Matt McCallister | FT33
Gwin Grimes | Artisan Baking Co.
Tim Love | Lonesome Dove/The Woodshed/Love Shack
Michael Thompson | Michaels
Juan Rodriguez | Reata
Gerard Thompson | Rough Creek Lodge
Tom Perini | Perini Ranch
Molly McCook | Ellerbe
Eric Hunter | Fire Oak Grill
Terry Chandler | Fred’s Texas Café
Blaine Staniford | Grace
Lanny Lancarte | Lanny’s Alta Cocina
Jon Bonnell | Bonnell’s/Waters
Dena Petersen | The Modern
Keith Hicks | Buttons
David McMillan | Bird Café

Like the leavening in a perfectly baked loaf of bread, the 501(c)(3) is helping ensure its debut entrée — the 2014 Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival — will rise to the top.

When it comes to finely wrought cuisine, any chef worth his or her salt will tell you: It’s great base ingredients that separate the culinary wheat from the chaff. As it happens, that same line of thinking also applies to this year’s food fest. The nonprofit fortifying the festival — and the sole benefactor of the four-day event — the Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation was formed to support gastronomic endeavors by creating grants and scholarships for local farmers, students and entrepreneurs. Its long-term goal, says festival executive director and co-founder Russell Kirkpatrick, is to host three or four events annually, the festival being one of them.
     “Our thought was to highlight Fort Worth, highlight the talent that’s in Fort Worth and in North Texas and create a culinary bastion right here. We really want to keep the money here and make an impact,” said Kirkpatrick, assistant general manager at Reata and the brainchild behind the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival. (And just in case you’re wondering, the first-ever event is anything but half-baked: It’s been in the making for the past 2 ½ years, with things really stirring up over the past 18 months.)
     The foundation’s primary goal, Kirkpatrick explains, is three-fold — the first of which is instituting a series of culinary scholarships for local high school students to attend culinary school or to earn a restaurant management degree, with the stipulation that they return to a Fort Worth hotel, restaurant or kitchen when they graduate and work locally for at least a couple of years. The second component is to set up a series of grants for “really anything that can enhance the culinary industry in Fort Worth,” Kirkpatrick said. “It could be a farmer who needs that last piece of equipment or a craft brewer who needs that last piece of startup capital.” The third element is yet to be determined, he says. “There are some really cool long-term goals that I would love to see the foundation contribute to,” he said, like beefing up the infrastructure of the local farmers market. A brick-and-mortar structure that’s open seven days a week and that would supply fresh, locally sourced produce and other ingredients — for both kitchen pros and regular Joes alike — “would be incredible,” Kirkpatrick said.
     Kirkpatrick and his fellow foodie fans have high hopes that this year’s feast fest will raise enough dough to do just that. In fact, ever since he added the foundational responsibilities to his (already full) plate, Kirkpatrick has been hankering for more. It’s his appetite for helping others — for giving back to the city that’s pointed so many opportunities his way — that prompted Kirkpatrick to add yet another culinary toque to his repertoire.
     “I’ve always seen the second part of my career as some way to give back. I was looking at my retirement years as a way of finding a niche where I could work in a nonprofit realm,” he said. “As the festival started taking shape in my head, I thought, ‘I know food, I know wine.’ What if I could find a way to give back through food and wine? That’s really how the foundation was born.”

Festival’s Executive Committee
Russell Kirkpatrick – Reata Restaurant
*Amber and BJ Caldwell – Anchor Marketing and Design
Deborah Ferguson – NBC 5
Jeremy Byrd – Bass Performance Hall
*Leonard Firestone – Firestone & Robertson Distillery
Merianne Roth – Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau
Steve McWilliams – Ben E. Keith Foods
Mike Micallef – Reata Restaurant
Adam Jones – Grace
*Fritz and Erin Rahr – Rahr and Sons Brewing Company
Jordan Arnt – Fort Worth Wine Examiner
Lou Lambert – Lambert’s Downtown BBQ
Michael Newquist – Fort Worth Weekly
Tracy Gilmour – Sundance Square
*J.R. Clark – Central Market
Camilo Chavez – Mondavi Wines
*Troy Robertson – Firestone & Robertson Distillery
*Julie Eastman – Extraordinary Events and Design
Mark Felbinger – Worthington Renaissance Hotel
Richard King – Ellerbe
*Teresa Salazar – Republic National Distributing
Jon Bonnell – Bonnell’s and Waters
*Crystal Vastine – Fort Worth Foodie
Jay Downie – Downtown Fort Worth Inc.
June Naylor – Texas Toast Culinary Tours
Robert Skufka – Republic National Distributing
Gwin Grimes – Artisan Baking Company
Meda Kessler – 360 West

*Signifies Executive Chairpersons

To learn more about the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival Commemorative Cookbook click here.