After two hurricane-sized setbacks, the Louisiana Food and Wine Festival’s inaugural event in Lake Charles will celebrate Louisiana’s unique culinary culture from this Thursday, Sept. 14, through Sunday, Sept. 17.
“We started planning this a couple of years ago,” festival director Jan Gourley says. “The hurricanes hit, and it was just a series of things. It was always on the radar, but we finally put it to a real plan about a year and a half ago.”
The ADFISH Group, a public relations firm partly responsible for the event, has executed similar festivals in St. Augustine, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia. Gourley says that Visit Lake Charles reached out to the group to create a southwest Louisiana event that aims to become a culinary destination. “It’s a great location to have a festival with all of the properties they have to host out-of-town guests,” she adds.
The weekend-long event will kick off on Thursday with Louisiana’s Celebrity Chef Wine Dinner, a reception and dinner with notable chefs from around the state. Master classes with celeb chefs will follow on Friday, along with Fire on the Lake, an evening cooking event on the lakefront that will feature a variety of meats, including alligator.
Out of the weekend’s lineup, Gourley says Baton Rouge visitors can’t miss Saturday’s Grand Tasting, which will feature cooking demonstrations, the Best Taste Awards and 300 varieties of wine, beer and spirits. The inaugural event will come to a close on Sunday with a jazz brunch served by almost two dozen food and drink stations, including a raw seafood bar and bottomless bloody marys.
The event lineup boasts acclaimed chefs from Louisiana and beyond, including recent King of Louisiana Seafood winner Owen Hohl and Benchawan Painter, who was named James Beard Best Chef: Texas. Both will host cooking demonstrations on Saturday. Top Chef alumna Tiffany Derry will teach a master class about her famed fried shrimp and grits balls on Friday with wine pairings from Master of Wine Mollie Battenhouse.
“It’s so much fun because you learn so much,” Gourley says, explaining that Battenhouse has unexpected wine suggestions that diners would never think to pair well with Derry’s recipe.
Save the date
Other food and wine festivals around Louisiana
If you can’t make it to Lake Charles this weekend, here are a few other food and wine festivals to save to your calendar around South Louisiana:
Oct. 7, 2023
Nov. 10-12, 2023
June 5-9, 2024