Off the Menu Special: Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival Schedule

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wine food 12By Christopher Trela & Catherine Del Casale

It’s back, and we couldn’t be happier!

The Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival returns to town this weekend for three days of superb wine tasting, creative cuisine from some of Orange County’s best restaurants (including Golden Foodie award sinners), wine and food seminars, celebrity chefs, live music, and much more.

The weekend kicks off on Oct. 2 with an evening launch party at Island Hotel’s Oak Grill, and continues Oct. 3 and 4 at the Civic Center Green with afternoon wine and food tastings plus a variety of related events.

We attended the Festival last year and had a terrific time sampling some truly great wines and noshing on memorable cuisine. Based on this year’s Festival lineup, the experience should be even better.

Here’s the final schedule, courtesy of the Festival:

Friday, Oct. 2: Launch Party at Oak Grill, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

The weekend kicks off with the Launch Party benefitting Festival charity partner Project Hope Alliance on Friday,food wine 7 October 2, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Island Hotel’s Oak Grill & Aqua Lounge. Celebrity chefs, Festival participants, gourmands and VIPs will enjoy fine wines, cocktails and live music. Hand-passed hors d’oeuvres will be prepared by Oak Grill Executive Chef Marc Johnson, who is creating a seasonal menu unique to this event. The event will offer food, wine and travel experiences to bid on during the evening’s silent auction. Net proceeds from the auction items and donations will benefit Project Hope Alliance.

Tickets to the Launch Party are priced at $125 and sold separately from Daytime Festival tickets.

Saturday, Oct. 3 and Sunday, Oct. 4: Daytime Festival, 1 to 5 p.m.

Each day, the Festival will be held on the outdoor grounds of the Newport Beach Civic Center. One ticket to the Daytime Festival grants guests unlimited access to all event programming and tastings including live cooking demos with Bravo TV “Top Chef Masters” and “Top Chef” stars, tastings from 32 Orange County restaurants, wineries pouring over 200 fine wines, wine tasting panels led by master sommeliers, mixology courses, handcrafted cocktails, imported beers and live jazz.

Saturday events include a wine tasting panel led by some of the country’s most notable master sommeliers including Fred Dame and Michael Jordan (as seen in the hit movie Somm), as well as California Masters Steven Poe, Thomas Price and Sur Lucero. Bravo TV’s “Top Chef Masters” Rick Bayless (Red O Restaurant) and Hubert Keller will showcase their culinary mastery on the Sub-Zero Wolf outdoor kitchen stage. Keller will be preparing French cuisine live with local chef Pascal Olhats, and Bayless will show guests how to create upscale Mexican cuisine.

Saturday’s restaurants include Red O, Twenty Eight, The Winery, The Loft, Oak Grill, Pelican Grill, Mastro’s Steakhouse, Mastro’s Ocean Club, Canaletto Ristorante Veneto, Driftwood Kitchen, Tamarind of London, Tommy Bahama Island Grille, True Food Kitchen, Filomena’s Italian Kitchen, Honda Center, Waterline and B Candy.

Also on tap for Saturday: mixology courses led by Southern California Southern Wine & Spirits Director of Mixology, Tricia Carr; handcrafted cocktails from Absolut Elyx, Cruzan Rum, Duke Spirits, Laphroaig and Roca Patrón; Stella Artois tastings of a variety of their most popular imported brews; Lauren & The Mike Frost Band playing at the jazz lounge.

Sunday features another tasting panel called Pinot Noir 101, led by Master Sommeliers Michael Jordan, Steven Poe, Thomas Price and Sur Lucero. Sunday’s cooking demos feature “Top Chef Masters” Season 1 Alum Chef Rick Moonen and local OC chef, Chef Alan Greeley of The Golden Truffle. “Top Chef” Season 11 Finalist Shirley Chung will lead the Festival’s first Top Chef Home Cook Challenge with “Top Chef” star coaches and judges, Brian Huskey, Brooke Williamson and Louis Maldonado.

The Grand Tasting Pavilions will present an entirely new lineup of 16 restaurants including Selanne Steak Tavern, Studio, Fig & Olive, Montage Laguna Beach, Oak Grill, Aqua Lounge, Slapfish, Boathouse Collective, Del Frisco’s Grille, AnQi, Andrea Pelican Hill, Roy’s, Stonehill Tavern, Honda Center, A&O Kitchen + Bar, and B Candy.

Mixologist Tricia Carr returns to showcase her cocktail skills with new mixology courses. Cooper Phillip will take the jazz lounge stage to delight guests with her smooth, sensual vocals.

There will also be a Riedel wine glass tasting event, which includes a set of Riedel glasses (a separate fee of $75).

Proceeds from the weekend of events benefit charity partner, Project Hope Alliance.

General Admission Daytime Festival Tickets are $150 per day; Weekend Passes for Saturday and Sunday are $250; VIP Daytime Tickets are $225 per day; All-Inclusive VIP Weekend Pass includes Launch Party and are priced at $425.

More information on the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival is at or call (888) 511-FEST.


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