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Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2024: The Best Food Festival Trips

Forbes May 2, 2024


Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2024: The Best Food Festival Trips

Why experience the creations of one chef when you can experience a range of local and noted guest chefs plus wine tastings, seminars and other gastronomic treats? That’s the ethos of an enticing food festival and it’s even better when it’s located in a destination that is desirable anyway as a holiday spot. Here are some of the best festivals in, and just outside of, the U.S.

Tents serving wine on the beach

Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival, October 18-November 10. Hawai‘i is such a good idea for this that there are several contenders both across the islands and situated on one at different times of the year. This one co-founded by star Hawai’i chefs Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi brings over 150 master chefs, wine and spirit producers, sommeliers and mixologists to three different islands Maui, Oahu and the Big Island on three different weekends for 20 events. The one stipulation each must satisfy: to use an ingredient grown, farmed or fished in Hawai’i in their dishes. The event lineup and ticket sales go live on May 7.

plates of a small cake ready to be served

Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, June 6-9. Located in the resort area on the coast in West Maui, this weekend festival will feature events such as an exclusive Petrossian caviar tasting, chef Charlie Palmer’s trademark “Pigs and Pinot,” the pork and wine pairing held annually in Healdsburg and here given local slant; a wine tasting seminar featuring the best of Paso Robles and a Grand Tasting Gala spotlighting the chefs of Lahaina, all of whom suffered devastating losses in the August fire. In addition, grassroots organizations to aid this community such as Chef Hui and the Hawai’i Restaurant Association Educational Foundation will be among the beneficiaries of festival proceeds.

A large seated dinner waterfront with strings of lights overhead.

The Mauna Lani Culinary Classic, August 29-September 2. The four-day event at this Auberge Resorts Collection resort on the Big Island was such a hit in its debut last year that it’s coming back in even more expanded form for its sophomore year. Among the featured activities: repeats of the 17 course Omakase prepared by the Blue Ribbon Sushi master chefs and Chefs On the Beach featuring chef stations spread out on the Great Lawn bordering the sand. Among the new ones this year: a female slanted luncheon prepared by local star Lee Anne Wong, chef/partner of Honolulu’s Koko Head Café and, before the Maui fire, Papa’aina in Lahaina and Stephanie Izard chef/owner of Girl & The Goat in Chicago and Los Angeles; an authentic lū'au and a discussion with Lee Anne Wong and Blue Ribbon’s Bruce Bromberg about the realities of being a chef today.

Tents with food displayed and green hillls in the background

FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 14-16. The mountain scenery would be enough on its own but this three day event features marquee name chefs such as David Chang, Marcus Samuelsson and Nancy Silverton in a selection of cooking demonstrations, seminars and special dinners plus a Grand Tasting Pavilion with over 150 food, wine and spirits stations available five times over the weekend for passholders. Two of the special dinners, including one celebrating the 30th anniversary of New York’s Gramercy Tavern, are sold out but there are a number of other events around town presented by hotels such as Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection which is offering special dinners highlighting Latin American and African American chefs for guests along with a dinner by several California chefs celebrating the life of the late Napa Valley chef Michael Chiarello. Other events in town include an American Express sponsored dinner for Marriott Bonvoy cardmembers atop Aspen Mountain with COTE Korean Steakhouse and a daytime party celebrating Juneteenth at Aspen Meadows Resort.

Ribs cooking on a large outdoor grill

Food & Wine Classic in Charleston, September 27-29. The Holy City’s signature food festival, Charleston Wine + Food celebrates its 20th anniversary, holding the 2025 festival on March 5-9; if the schedule aligns with past festivals, it’s a sprawling five day affair that careens around town for special dinners, lunches and brunches spotlighting local food and beyond plus wine, beer and spirits explorations. Before that, though, a Food & Wine Classic is landing in Charleston this fall as an extension of its Aspen festival. More details are forthcoming but it’s expected to feature local and international chefs in a variety of tastings, demonstrations and seminars plus the Grand Tasting Pavilion showcasing a wide array of wine tasting and culinary offerings.

Grilling oysters outdoors

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, June 5-9. The Big Easy is a food, wine and spirits experience on a daily basis but during these five days, the interaction goes up a notch. Among the events this year: Vinola and the Grand Tasting, elite wine tastings paired with special offerings by local chefs; wine dinners at local restaurants; an essential New Orleans culinary tasting paired with wines at one of the most famous restaurants, Galatoire’s, and tasting labs with the wines of different Italian regions. Special rates are also available at local hotels including The Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans and Virgin Hotel New Orleans.

Several tables set for dinner with the ocean behind.

Anguilla Culinary Experience, May 23-26. This Caribbean island has always had a reputation for superior culinary experiences and that gastronomic flair is on view in this four day event which features local and international guest chefs as well as the island’s elite hotels. The events range from a Rum Punch Mixology Class, Rum and Chocolate Pairing and Barefoot Beach Dinner with chef stations on the sand at Cap Juluca, A Belmond Hotel, Anguilla to a panorama of Caribbean cuisine at the Altamer Luxury Villas prepared by brothers Xavier Rochat, a local private chef, and his brother Yannick Rochat, Sous Chef at Saison by Mauro Colagreco at Raffles London at The OWO.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson giving a culinary demonstration.

The Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, October 17-20. Anything other festivals can do, New York can do bigger. For this year’s event, the 17th, the festival moves to a new 450,000 square foot campus at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park for the Grand Tasting featuring hundreds of winemakers, distillers, chefs from New York’s best restaurants and national chefs and Walk Around Pier Parties including Rachael Ray’s popular Blue Moon Burger Bash. There will also be 75 events in Manhattan including intimate dinners with some of the world’s most renowned chefs, walk around tastings and master classes. Lineup and tickets available in June.

A blue lit swimming pool flanked by participants in a food festival.

Plan ahead for next year: The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, February 20-23, 2025. The specific details for this four-day extravaganza involving stars from television and music as well as gastronomic celebrities haven’t been rolled out yet but judging from past festivals, a wide array will be in evidence. Among the 500 chefs and wine and spirit producers in attendance last year: international stars Massimo Bottura of Modena’s Osteria Francescana and Argentine chef Francis Mallmann who has a restaurant Los Fuegos at the Faena Hotel Miami Beach; local favorites such as Michelle Bernstein whose latest restaurant is Michy’s Chicken Shack and national star chefs such as Mario Carbone, chef/co-owner of Carbone and Alon Shaya whose restaurants include Miss River in New Orleans and Safta in Denver. The events ranged from the formal Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best at the Fontainebleau to a BBQ Master Class and everything in between.

A platter of charcuterie on a terrace in front of the Pebble Beach golf course

Pebble Beach Food & Wine, April 10-13, 2025. This four-day festival located on the grounds of the Pebble Beach Resorts on California’s Monterey Peninsula is a draw both for its wine and culinary offerings and the famous golf courses bordering craggy cliffs overlooking the Pacific. This year’s event brought together over 150 wine and spirit producers and over 125 acclaimed chefs from around the country including New York’s Jonathan Waxman, chef/owner of Barbuto, Hawaiian chef Roy Yamaguchi and Nancy Silverton, chef and co-owner of Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles. The events ranged from haute to casual in a variety of showcase dinners, a Tasting Pavilion, Italian Feast, pan-Asian lunch and simpler tastings such as one pairing Burgers, Bourbon and Bordeaux. But on day one, there was a golf tournament with food stations along the fairway. And lodgings were the pair of notable resorts: The Lodge at Pebble Beach and The Inn at Spanish Bay.

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