Car connoisseurs, wine aficionados, and food lovers won't want to miss the annual Saratoga Wine and Food Festival this weekend at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and Saratoga Spa State Park.
Presented annually at the end of its classical season, the Saratoga Wine and Food Festival is an epicurean showcase featuring two days of gourmet events showcasing fine international wines, innovative chef-prepared menus, cooking demonstrations and wine seminars, expansive tastings, upscale auctions and a luxury auto show. Held under elegant tents on SPAC’s lawn, the weekend is anchored by three events: an Adirondack Road Tour and Luncheon; Friday’s Fired Up! Grill Competition and Saturday’s Grand Tasting and Concours D’Elegance, the festival centerpiece. Presented in partnership with the Saratoga Automobile Museum, proceeds from the festival benefit education programming at SPAC and the Museum.
A featured event at Saturday’s Grand Tasting will be the final round of SPAC’s “Home Rangers” Amateur Chef Competition, which includes a cook-off between the competition’s amateur chef finalist and BlueStar celebrity chef Melissa Doney. Chef Doney was a competitor on Season 8 of Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen hosted by Gordon Ramsey. She is the Executive Chef of Brown’s Brewing Company, Adjunct Culinary Arts Professor at Schenectady County Community College, and formerly area chef for ShopRite Supermarkets. The Home Rangers competition is a judged cooking competition for amateur chefs taking place at SPAC over four evenings during the classical season.
Among the judges for the final round will be BlueStar All Star Chef, Jay Hajj. Hajj is the chef and owner of Mike’s City Diner in Boston and his food has been featured numerous times on Food Network programs such as Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Guy’s Big Bite and Guy’s Grocery Games. Joining him at the judging table will be Ariana Philips Editor of Food Network magazine. Chef Suvir Saran, an accomplished chef, cookbook author, educator as well as a farmer who specializes in bringing Indian cooking to the American kitchen will be the final judge. He has appeared frequently on national broadcasts including Bravo’s Top Chef Masters and on the Food Network’s Iron Chef. The competition will be emceed by Steve Barnes, Times Union senior writer and Table Hopping blogger.
Culinary demos will be hosted both before and after the competition from BlueStar All Star Chefs Jay Hajj, Suvir Suran and Michelle Hines Abram Thibeault. Jay Hajj will be available for a book signing following his demo promoting his new cookbook Beirut to Boston: A Cookbook: Comfort Food Inspired by a Rags-to-Restaurants Story.
SPAC has also contracted with bus.com for the festival, providing another convenient transportation option for people in Boston, New York and Montreal. The company organizes charter bus trips for festivals, sporting events and shows by teaming up with bus companies with unused inventory. The company has served more than 150,000 people across 4,000 trips in 37 states and 3 countries, with customers that include Live Nation, AEG, Huka Entertainment, and student organizations from Harvard, Yale, M.I.T., and others. Customers will be offered the option of purchasing bus.com service during the online wine & food festival ticket purchasing process at spac.org.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 8
Adirondack Road Tour & Gourmet Luncheon | 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
This spirited 1 ½ hour, professionally-led road rally for auto collectors winds through beautiful Adirondack roads to finish at the historic Lake George Club, where a delicious cocktail reception and three course wine-paired luncheon will be served. Event price: $100.
Fired Up! Grill Competition featuring Special Guest David Ortiz | 7:00 p.m. -10:00 p.m.
At Fired UP! Presented by Stella Artois and Certified Angus Beef Grill Competition, the kick-off event to the weekend’s events at SPAC, chefs from the Capital Region’s finest restaurants will battle it out for the FIRED UP! title as guests enjoy great music, gourmet food, BBQ, a cold refreshing Stella Artois, wines and spirits.
Ultimately, guests will sample the inventive grill-off creations, helping judges to name the 2017 Saratoga Grill Master. Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz will make a special guest appearance at the event.
The event is held under an oversized tent on SPAC’s lawn.
Event price: $85
Local restaurants featured at Fired UP! will include: 15 Church, Ama Cocina, Angelo’s 677 Prime, Campagna Restaurant, [Forged], Henry Street Taproom, Morrissey, Salt & Char.
David Ortiz Meet and Greet | 7 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
David Ortiz will host a meet and greet for 100 people who will have their pictures taken individually with the baseball hero and receive a signed promotional photograph. This opportunity will be available to the first 100 people who purchase a specially priced Fired Up! ticket of $135, which includes a $50 donation to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund.
Event price: $135
“Big Papi’s Arias Wine & Cigar Bar” | 8:30 p.m. -10 p.m.
David Ortiz will host a VIP experience for 100 people that will take place in the Hall of Springs Jazz Bar from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event will feature an opportunity to mingle with the baseball legend and other guests while enjoying Arias wines, gourmet hors d’oeuvres and cigars. All of the guests will receive an autographed bottle of Arias. A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit the David Ortiz Children’s Fund.
Event price: $175
SATURDAY, SEPT. 9
Grand Tasting and Concours D’Elegance | 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday’s Grand Tasting and Concours D’Elegance event is centered on unparalleled wines, spirits, local foods, and the region’s top restaurants. All guests will have the opportunity to savor exquisite foods created by more than 20 chefs in the Capital Region; a mystery wall, and cocktails, wine and beer. In addition, The Saratoga Automobile Museum will present a show of luxury collector cars including classes of Shelby Cobra, Porsche, Lancia, Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, among others.
Event price: $85.
A VIP Grant Tasting ticket, which allows earlier entry to the Grand Tasting and exclusive access to the VIP area, is available for $175.
Local restaurants featured at the Grand tasting will include: Ama Cocina, Adam Humphrey/ Harvey’s Restaurant, Barcelona, Campagna Restaurant, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Friends Lake Inn, [Forged], Henry Street Taproom, IL Faro Restaurant, Jacob & Anthony’s American Grille, Karavalli Saratoga, Prime at Saratoga National, Simpson’s at the Desmond Hotel, Sperry’s Restaurant, The Brook Tavern, The Hollow Bar + Kitchen, Three Vines Bistro, Wings Over Saratoga.
For more information, go online to www.saratogawineandfood.com.