April 17, 2017

The spring is the perfect time to celebrate food, when the fresh ingredients you’ve been missing during the colder months return and you can once again spend the day outside, enjoying great tastes. That’s why cities across the country greet the changing seasons with exciting food festivals. The gatherings are a great opportunity for culinary academy students to check out some of the best food in their area.

Don’t miss out on your chance at a memorable day packed with fantastic dishes and drinks. These are just a few of the  festivals worth exploring this year.

Austin Food and Wine Festival

“Attendees will experience a variety of the area’s best food and drinks.”

Last year, Austin culinary arts fans faced disappointment when this annual event was rained out. Thankfully, the festival is returning for 2017, taking place from April 28 through 30. Attendees will experience a wide variety of the area’s best food and drinks with cooking demonstrations and tastings throughout the weekend.

The guests for the festival include talent like acclaimed chef and restaurateur Hugh Acheson, chef and television personality Graham Elliot, “Chopped” judge and cookbook author Amanda Freitag and many more. Among the special events is the Rock Your Taco Showdown, in which some of the renowned chefs face off to prove who can craft the best and most inventive tortilla-wrapped creation while ticket holders enjoy the results. Singer and Austin native Tameca Jones will perform during the competition.

Harlem Eat Up!

One of New York City’s most culturally rich neighborhoods celebrates its history and traditions at the third edition of this yearly festival. From May 15 through 21, attendees will enjoy delicious food, culinary demonstrations and music. At the Ultimate Grand Tasting on May 20, they’ll dig into all they can eat of some of the finest dishes from area chefs, accompanied by wine, beer and cocktails.

During the festival, chefs will collaborate on special, multi-course meals as part of the Dine in Harlem Dinners. Among the participants are Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster, Lance Knowling of Blujeen and Yvette Leeper-Bueno of Vinateria. Each of these unique meals is paired with wines, courtesy of the Bordeaux Wine Council, and local musicians will provide entertainment.

Colorado Chocolate Festival

Few foods bring people together for a good time quite like chocolate. That makes the Colorado Chocolate Festival, taking place May 12 through 13 at Denver Merchandise Mart, a must for Mother’s Day weekend. Anyone who appreciates chocolate candy, cookies, cakes, truffles, toffees, brownies, fudge or coffee will find plenty to enjoy, spread out over 30,000 square feet.

The event will include tastings of both chocolate and wine, free samples, speakers, live music and cooking demonstrations. Colorado culinary arts professionals can prove their dessert-making skill by entering the Chocolatier Championships for the chance to win cash prizes in categories like Best Fudge, Best Toffee and Best Chocolate Design. For those who prefer a simpler competition, the Chocolate Crown will be awarded to whoever can gobble the most chocolate kisses in a minute.

Find out what local chefs have to offer at a food festival.Find out what local chefs have to offer at a food festival.

Calabasas-Malibu Food & Wine Festival

This event boasts some of the finest cooking on the West Coast, along with wines and beers from around the world. From June 8 through 11, patrons can try items from acclaimed chefs like Andi Van Willigan, who appeared on “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Kitchen Nightmares,” Matt Bata of Alexander’s Steakhouse and Phillip Lee, best known from “Top Chef.” Proceeds from the event will benefit arts and education programs in local schools.

For anyone who appreciates good food, the spring is a fantastic time to try out new dishes. Festivals offer the chance to spend a day basking in beautiful weather and intriguing tastes. Be sure to take advantage of the events coming to your area.

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