Eat, drink, repeat: What to expect at this year’s Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival
By Meda Kessler
Last year’s Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival was a celebration of sorts as it marked the event’s return after the pandemic.
Everyone was happy to be there. But festival organizers are always tinkering and tweaking to improve the experience. This year, with food costs on the rise, sponsors have stepped up to provide a bigger stipend to participants.
Tickets have sold well, with Weekender passes snapped up early. Two special seated events will bring noted chefs to Fort Worth to cook with local talent. (The Hunt & Gather brunch is sold out and the Noche del Soul dinner with Tiffany Derry and Juan Rodriguez should be.)
Since most of you know the drill by now, here is what’s new and what we’re excited about this year.
Sponsor Rosewood Ranches, located near Ennis, Texas, brings the beef to every festival, and the friendly crew is generous with their samples. They’ll have an even stronger presence this year, so make a pit stop and thank them for their support.
Fort Worth-based TX Whiskey aims to make good use of its homefield advantage this year. Look for them to partner with Tom Perini of Perini Ranch Steakhouse at The Main Event. Tom is celebrating a couple of milestones this year, too. He began catering ranch events in Texas in 1973. And in 1983, the steakhouse in Buffalo Gap opened to the public. Wish him a happy anniversary when you get a nice slice of filet at the festival.
TACOS + TEQUILA: Name-dropping
It’s a pretty strong lineup this year, with Del Norte Tacos, Guapo Taco, Magdalena’s, Taco Heads, Paco’s Mexican Cuisine and Los Vaqueros Stockyards participating. Add Mesero, Toro Toro Pan-Latin Restaurant and Mi Dia From Scratch out of Grapevine and you have the makings of a very big evening. Plus, it will be nice to see veteran Lanny Lancarte back at the festival and repping Fantasma Kitchens.
THE MAIN EVENT: Say bye to the big tent
While we appreciate the effort to keep us dry, the big tent crammed with vendors and guests was dark, stuffy and definitely a damper on the vibe of the Friday-night festivities. That changes this year as there will be a different setup to encourage guests to walk around and mingle. The lineup of chefs includes veteran Mark Hitri, the new co-owner of Paris 7th, and Lindsey Lawing, who just opened her first brick-and-mortar. Be sure to say hello to Katrina Carpenter of Carpenter’s Cafe & Catering, as she is getting ready to reopen her Fort Worth store this year.
NIGHT MARKET NEW EVENT, NEW FACES
Desserts After Dark evolved into Nite Bites, which this year is Night Market, a “global street market” experience. Hosted by TX Whiskey at its gorgeous distillery, some of the top mixologists in Fort Worth will be shaking things up as you sample your way through the evening. Eat all the noodles and dumplings, but save room for Mama Lama Sweets.
RISE + DINE
Brunch is back Gone is last year’s Culinary Corral, as this early Saturday event brings back the easy, breezy feel of a long brunch. Expect the unexpected with experiential pop-ups or just find a shady spot to hang out and people-watch. Our tip: Find the coffee vendor first.
BURGERS, BREWS + BLUES
The meat marathon Last year’s fan favorite, JD’s Hamburgers, made its debut at the festival, and it will be back. Newcomers include food truck Big Kat Burgers and The Meat Board, the popular Fort Worth butcher shop. And while wine is not part of the event’s name, it will be poured.
RING OF FIRE: A NEXT-LEVEL COOKOUT
The meat marathon, part 2, plus the Babes of Que Check out some top-notch pitmasters, and don’t miss the Babes of Que. Betina Miller owns M&M BBQ Company with her husband, Mike. They fabricate cookers for commercial use and backyard chefs. Betina, who formerly worked in finance, started a podcast after listening to so many while helping her husband at food festivals. “It’s a good way to keep up with the barbecue industry,” says Betina. She realized that women were underrepresented, especially those who take care of everything behind the scenes. So she started her own podcast called Babes of Que in 2022 to celebrate these ladies. Betina is bringing a couple of M&M cookers and will throw down with some special guests, including the ladies of Goldee’s Barbecue, Cecilia Guerrero and Kimberly Ovalle, and pastry chef Grecia Ramos from 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio. Betina wouldn’t reveal what they’re cooking, but we can’t wait.