Here’s what’s new at the 2022 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Aerial view of the tasting tents in 2021

Courtesy of Rafterman Photography

The 11th Annual Atlanta Food and Wine Festival will be held September 15-18 at the Old Fourth Ward, Westside and restaurants across the city. It may seem like an eternity from now, but from today, discounted tickets are available—for one week only. This year’s theme is “A love letter to the South”. Chefs, pitmasters, sommeliers, brewers and mixologists from the 13 southern states will converge in our city to hold demonstrations and share samples of their crafts.

Chef/restaurateur Pat Pascarella of Grana, the White Bull and Bastone will attend the festival for the first time, joining returning chefs Josue Pena (the Iberian Pig) and Ron Hsu and Aarons Phillips (Lazy Betty). Expect food from Aziza, Pie Bar and Hattie B’s, among many local restaurants.

New this year, an indoor/outdoor festival launch party called Sliced: the AF&WF party by the slice. Held September 15 from 7-10 p.m. at Guardian Works on the Westside, this will be an exclusive tasting event with unlimited bites of pizza, chicken pot pie, quiche, brisket and bread (between other foods), plus beer, wine and cocktails. Early-bird tickets are $95, with prices hitting $125 on July 1.

Pasta from an Atlanta Food and Wine Festival dinner at Lazy Betty’s in 2021

Photo by Chris Aluka Berry/Raftermen Photography

The likes of Hattie B

Courtesy of Rafterman Photography

Similarly unique is Cluck’d: a chicken and cocktail party, September 16 from 7-10 p.m., also at Guardian Works. Fifteen top chefs will bread, roast, fry, broil, bake and broil their way through the famous bird and pair them with signature cocktails. Early-bird tickets are $95, with prices hitting $125 on July 1.

“We’re trying not to go back and do everything we’ve always done, we’re trying to be more innovative,” says Brett Friedman, co-founder and managing partner of Agency21, producer of the festival.

In this vein, the AF&WF has discontinued the intimate seminars it previously hosted at Loews
Atlanta hotel. Although the Loews will return as the base camp for the festival, no events will take place there.

“We would be doing a disservice if we didn’t evolve,” Friedman said. “[The festival] started 12 years ago. Now people are more comfortable outside, and we want people to be comfortable.

Drinks at the 2021 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Brunch at Woodall

Courtesy of Rafterman Photography

Instead, Agency21 decided to incorporate additional cooking and mixology demonstrations into the Great Tasting events Sept. 17 and 18 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the historic Fourth Ward Park. (Doors open at 1 p.m. for VIP ticket holders.) Once again, the tasting tents will focus on the barbecue and tailgate, but Friedman points out that with more than 100 vendors, plenty of vegan, vegetarian options and gluten-free will be available. One-day tickets for early birds are $75 ($110 for VIPs). Prices will increase to $99 for general admission and $150 for VIP on July 1.

Although the name of the festival includes the word “wine”, the tasting tents offer an almost equal amount of beer and spirits. “Mixology has exploded over the past few years, so it would be a disservice not to include Southern mixologists,” Friedman says. “The reality is that every person has a certain flavor profile that speaks to them. Variety is not to encourage overconsumption. It’s having everything so that everyone can have an incredible experience”

Games at the Grand Tasting in 2021

Courtesy of Rafterman Photography

In addition to food, drink and demonstrations, the Grand Tasting offers games and lounges. Last year, there were even ax throws.

“The problem is sensory overload,” says Friedman.

Do you prefer a more intimate setting? Chef-led brunches and dinners will be announced next month.

Visit atlfoodandwinefestival.com for tickets and more information. All events are restricted to ages 21 and older. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Children of Conservation’s school meals program, which provides nutrient-dense meals to children in Africa.

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