Noshing, Sipping & Giving

The Memphis Food & Wine Festival
By Sandi Butler Hughes | Photography by Justin Fox Burks

What began as a “what if”
conversation among friends, over a glass of wine naturally, has grown into a major fundraising event…a must-have ticket, and in the inaugural year was listed as one of the top 10 best parties of 2016. And now, on October 14, the Memphis Food & Wine Festival is back for year two!

The Memphis Food & Wine Festival (MFWF) showcases exquisite foods from renowned chefs from around the world, plus vintners pouring over 150 wines from 40 wineries elected
especially for the evening. Festival-goers not only get to enjoy the fabulous cuisine
and fine wines, but they also get to tantalize their taste buds for a good cause — they are
supporting FedExFamilyHouse, the beneficiary of the event. FedExFamilyHouse is a
home-away-from-home for out-of-town families of children being treated at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. In 2016, $100,000 was donated, a phenomenal sum for the first year of a totally new event for Memphis.

“The inaugural Memphis Food & Wine Festival was the greatest single culinary event in the history of the city,” said Kevin Kane, President and CEO of the Memphis Convention & Visitors
Bureau. And 2017 is on-track to be even bigger and better!

This year’s event, with over 34 chefs, offers an expanded lineup that is a who’s-who of culinary excellence, both locally and worldwide. Top local chefs participating include José Gutierrez of
River Oaks, Wally Joe and Andrew Adams of Acre, Erling Jensen of Erling Jensen, Andreas Kisler and Konrad Spitzbart of The Peabody, Russell Casey of Bounty on Broad, along with Ryan Trimm of Sweet Grass.

Ryan explained that his involvement in the MFWF is about sharing the culinary arts as well as giving back. “FedExFamilyHouse is such an important part of Le Bonheur and the patients they treat. It’s easy to think about the costs that the medical treatment puts on a family, but often times it’s the hotel stays, the food, and definitely the emotional taxes that can cause more stress on a family,” he said. “FedExFamilyHouse helps to alleviate some of these issues, and although I can’t support to the amount I would like, Memphis Food & Wine Festival helps me to give back in the best way I know how.”

Memphis is emerging as a “foodie city,” and the MFWF is further promoting the Bluff City as a culinary hot spot, as evidenced by the list of out- of-town-chefs participating. The impressive list includes Ken Frank of the Michelin-starred La Toque in Napa; Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans; and a festival favorite, Deb Paquette from Etch and Etc. in Nashville. Other notable guest chefs are Thierry Rautureau of Loulay Kitchen & Bar and Luc in Seattle and Hugh Balthrop with delectable Sweet Magnolia Gelato from Clarksdale, MS.

The MFWF also welcomes acclaimed French chef Guy Savoy. He has five well-respected
Paris restaurants, including his flagship entity Restaurant Guy Savoy. This crown jewel holds
three Michelin Stars and is consistently chosen by top international restaurant critics as one of the world’s greatest fine-dining establishments. If Paris is too far for dinner, he also has a must- try, North American flagship Restaurant Guy Savoy located in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Chef Savoy not only wanted to be a part of this incredible new food festival, but he was
intrigued by Memphis. He committed to participate in the MFWF on the conditions that he could eat some of our famous barbeque and visit Beale Street for our world-renowned blues. Our city has a mystique, even for the most continental and seasoned world travelers.

Fine cuisine is complemented by fine wines, and so the MFWF sommeliers and winemakers will be offering expert guidance for attendees. Approximately 40 vintners and wineries including Frank Family Vineyards, Silver Oak,
Twomey, and Gerard Bertrand will be pouring chardonnays and brut roses to cabernets and pinot noirs. Guests will be sipping these fine wines from beautiful Riedel crystal stems that are also a collectible “party favor.”

A festival that is spotlighting the best of Memphis would not be complete without homegrown
Memphis music. This year’s music lineup features the Ghost Town Blues Band and the Jack Rowell Royal Blues Band – two phenomenal local bands with a reputation for playing great Memphis music.

The MFWF is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to showcase Memphis’ culinary talent while raising funds and awareness for a selected non-profit. The festival is held on the grounds of The Live Garden at Memphis Botanic Garden, so the setting, scenery, and sound is pure perfection. With high-top bistro tables scattered throughout the space and reserved table seating, guests have a chance to mix and mingle – sip and sample their way around the entire festival area.

So, what began as a “what if” conversation among friends – Al LaRocca, Sherry & Bob Chimenti, José Gutierrez, Colleen DePete and Nancy Kistler – has become a reality and a tasteful treat to embrace.
“We all have a true appreciation of great food and great wine,” claims Sherry Chimenti, “and we all believe in promoting and giving back to our city. FedEx was on board as a strong supporter of this event as it was being launched, and quickly joined by many sponsors in the Memphis community.”

Through the power of friendship and vision, The Memphis Food & Wine Festival is an evening of
culinary excellence making a difference in our city, for our city!

For more information and to purchase tickets,