By: Shilo Urban
By: Jenny B. Davis
It’s hard to imagine that exactly one year from today may be one of the most exciting days of my life. As executive director and co-founder of the inaugural Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival, I can’t tell you how excited I am for March 27, 2014, to get here.
Throughout the next year, I hope you will join me on the incredible journey of making the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival a reality. On this blog, I will discuss experiences I’ve had at some of the best culinary festivals in the nation, like the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and the Charleston Wine & Food Festival. I’ll also give you insight on some of the Fort Worth Festival’s executive committee, comprised of local culinary greats including Mike Micallef, Jon Bonnell, Adam Jones and Fritz Rahr.
I’m not developing this festival for myself. It’s for you. It’s for everyone who calls the great city of Fort Worth home. I want to hear from you. Your feedback is essential in planning festival events that truly represent the rich history and exciting future of Cowtown.
My passion for food and wine started in college when I got my first job waiting tables. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the Reata Restaurant management team for the past eight years and I also serve as president of the Tarrant County Restaurant Association. For several years, Reata has been invited to participate in the annual Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit where half of the participating chefs hail from Fort Worth. If there is a demand for Fort Worth chefs in Buffalo Gap, then surely there is a demand for Fort Worth chefs in Fort Worth, right?
I had been kicking around the idea of a festival in my head and most likely bothering my wife about it with non-stop chatter before I started actually making progress. I understood that if this was truly going to happen, I was going to need to time and resources from my employer to help. Luckily, he was all in from the beginning. The next week, I spent quite a bit of time talking my in-laws ears off while on vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
After the third evening of sitting on our balcony and listening to me rattle on about this possible seminar and that possible chef demo, they may have been ready to jump. But between cheese boards and wine bottles, the festival began to take shape.
Then there’s my wife.
I have this odd ritual of getting up at 5 a.m. and heading into the home office to work. It’s a quiet time that I don’t often have in the rest of my day and I cherish it. One evening I asked Jen to come into the office to take a look at what I had been working on. Her jaw hit the floor. I’m not too sure what she had thought that I had been doing at the crack of dawn each morning, but the feeling of pride that she had when seeing my vision for the first time was something I’ll never forget. If it weren’t for her telling me to either “do it or quit talking about it,” this thing would have never gotten off the ground.
Fast forward a couple of months and after a few phone calls, I was prepared to have our first executive committee meeting. No big deal, right? I was simply hosting some of the very best chefs, restaurateurs, business owners and media personnel in town. All I had to do was get in front of them for an hour with my PowerPoint presentation and share my idea. Holy Crap! This is happening! Luckily, I was able to convince them that this thing is long overdue and we can pull it off.
The roller coaster ride has begun. There’s no getting off until we bring together the finest food, wine, chefs, mixologists and more in what I believe is the greatest city on Earth.
Hold on tight.
By: Shilo Urban
By: Jenny B. Davis