By Sydia Bell

Celebrating its third season, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival returns to Midtown from May 30 to June 2. Co-founder Elizabeth Feicter said food enthusiasts will be led on a culinary journey throughout the region.

“The festival shows the evolution of Southern cooking,” Feichter said, noting that the four-day event offers carefully crafted programs and demonstrations to entertain and educate consumers about the rich food and beverages of the South.

Composed of three distinct activities – learning experiences, tasting experiences and special dinners – the culinary exploration encompasses everything from Latin influences and the rise of farm-to-table dining. Feichter said letting the chefs and restaurants drive the festival is part of what makes the event so distinctive each year.

For 2013, organizers prioritized creating immersive food experiences. Instead of the chefs demonstrating on stage, the norm at most food festivals, this year chefs and sous chefs will have the opportunity to prepare the food while mingling and interacting with the audience.

Although the festival is known for highlighting the best and the brightest chefs in the industry, there will be spotlight on the next wave of chefs. In programming called The Next Wave of Talent, Chef John Besh asks emerging chefs to create dishes that touch upon what inspires them about the South and cooking with Southern ingredients.

Led by industry experts, the learning experiences include smart and entertaining cooking and cocktail demonstrations running an hour in length. For example, guests can take a journey through the culinary traditions of Southern India with Chef Asha Gomez from Cardamom Hill, learn about the charms of bourbon or explore the intersection of Southern food and music – gospel to zydeco and bluegrass to blues – with Chef Sean Brock from Husk restaurant in Nashville.

Participants can than enjoy tasting seminars and panel discussions as they peruse the culinary delights in the Tasting Tents. Curated by the chefs, foodies will pick a “trail” to follow and sample chicken, pig, lamb, seafood, farm fresh, Southern snacks, sweets, sandwiches, wines and spirits. Each day is followed with a selection of special events that extend the festival’s learning and tasting programs with special dinners and parties with out-of-town chefs, mixologists and sommeliers. Chef Linton Hopkins and mixologist Greg Best will also be reporting live on AM 1690 during their Feed Radio program.

For information about the festival, a full list of classes, or tickets prices visit

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.