Off the Menu OC

Covering the dining scene in and around the OC

Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival Comes to Town Sept. 20 & 21

chef jamie gwen

Celebrity Chef Jamie Gwen, shown here with Lana Sills, executive producer of the “Food & Wine with Chef Jamie Gwen” radio show.

In September of 2012, the annual Taste of Newport ended its 24 year run in Fashion Island.

Now, another food and wine festival aims to take its place.

The inaugural Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival will be held Sept. 20 and 21 at the Newport Beach Civic Center, and it’s shaping up to be an impressive event.

According to the press material we’ve received, foodies and wine aficionados can indulge in two days of tasting, sipping, learning and enjoying the finer things the culinary world has to offer.

Event ticketing includes daytime tickets, and tickets for exclusive evening events including a VIP launch party, pop-up event, and grand finale.

Pre-sale daytime tickets went on sale this week. For $160 per day or $300 for both days, guests have unlimited access to live cooking demos, food tastings from local restaurants, exceptional wine tastings, sommelier panels, mixology courses, live jazz, and more.

Among the cooking demos we’re looking forward to: Pascal Olhats of Café Jardin, 24 Carrots and “Top Chef” Alumni Chef Ashley

Chef Pascal Olhats, doing a cooking demo at the 2012 Taste of Newport.

Chef Pascal Olhats, doing a cooking demo at the 2012 Taste of Newport.

Santo Domingo, Montage Chefs Lee Smith and Casey Overton, Studio Chef Craig Strong, Golden Truffle Chef Alan Greeley, Mozza Chef Emily Corliss, and Tamarind of London Chef Imran Ali.

Celebrity chefs scheduled to show off their talents include “Top Chef All-Stars” winner Chef Richard Blais, “Chopped” winner Chef Joe Youkhan, “Top Chef Masters” Alumni Chef Sue Zemanick with Chef John Ledbetter, and “Cutthroat Kitchen” winner (and Newport Beach resident) Chef Jamie Gwen with Fleming’s Newport Beach Executive Chef Mark Ogren.

The Grand Tasting Pavilion will feature chefs from local restaurants serving their signature dishes. Restaurants currently lined up include Tamarind of London, PIZZERIA MOZZA, Side Door, Five Crowns, The Crow Bar, Café Jardin, The Golden Truffle, Blue C Sushi, True Food Kitchen, Driftwood Kitchen, Fireside Tavern, Tommy Bahama, 24 Carrots, Montage Laguna Beach, The Loft, Studio, Selanne Steak Tavern, Wildfish Seafood Grille, Back Bay Bistro and The Quiet Woman.

A variety of noted wineries will be offering tastings. Our friend Jörn Kleinhans of The Wine Elite is moderating a series of sommelier panels, while master mixologists Francesco Lafranconi and Tricia Carr of Southern Wine and Spirits will offer cocktail seminars.

Craig Strong of Studio at Montage

Craig Strong of Studio at Montage

Festival sponsor DUKE Spirits, inspired by Newport Beach’s favorite actor, John Wayne, will be offering tastings at the DUKE Bourbon Bar. DUKE Bourbon will also be sharing memorabilia from the family’s private John Wayne collection.

Among the live jazz musicians to perform: James Tormé, internationally acclaimed vocalist and son of three-time Grammy Award Winning jazz legend Mel Tormé.

Daytime tickets for the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival are available at

And in case you’re wondering, the Food and Wine Festival is being produced by NewBe Productions LLC, a new entity formed to produce this event.

Profits from the Festival will benefit Project Hope Alliance and HOAG Hospital Foundation’s Circle 1000.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call (888) 511-FEST.

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