Wine me, dine me: Off court at the Western & Southern Open, celebrity chefs are the draw for foodies

MASON, Ohio - Julie Niesen Gosdin, the voice behind the food blog wine me, dine me, regularly visits a local eatery and writes about one of its signature menu items, but this week Julie has some suggestions on what to try during the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament. 

Long before the first world class player blasted a serve over the net on the tennis court, the tournament planners were thinking about what to serve the hungry hordes in the food court.

Event: Western & Southern Open tennis tournament
Location: Lindner Family Tennis Center, Mason
Dates: Saturday, Aug. 9-Sunday, Aug. 17

The first time I went to the Western & Southern Open (then called the Thriftway ATP), I was a teenager. I was with my boyfriend at the time--an avid tennis player.

I stood about five feet from Pete Sampras, who smiled at me, which pretty much made 16-year-old Julie's life.

A few years later, while working in Mason, my co-workers and I would share stories of seeing the tennis players at random places, like Rafael Nadal at the Shell Station on Mason-Montgomery Road, or several players at the Marriott across the street from the office. 

The tournament at the Lindner Family Tennis Center is a fun event where you can see everyone from up-and-coming players to stars from both the men's and women's tours.

MORE: Get our free Insiders Guide to the Western & Southern Open

But most notable? This is one of the most chef and local-driven sports events I know. So in between sets, find some dishes you might just love (no pun intended).

What to eat

Lots of local food is featured at the tournament. I'm particularly excited about Daveed's NEXT Pear Salad and Chilled Red Tomato Gazpacho (both gluten free and vegetarian), Fish Tacos from Tony's, or maybe a Santa Fe Chicken Salad Sandwich from The 'Wich on Sycamore. 

Looking for other local favorites? Graeter's, La Rosa's, Skyline, and Montgomery Inn will all be there, along with Taste of Belgium, which is quickly becoming a classic right up there with other Cincinnati favorites. So, go get your cheese coney and finish it off with a waffle.

Daily tastings from celebrity chefs

Each evening at 5:30 p.m., the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Wine Garden features a local celebrity chef preparing dishes paired with Mondavi wines. The schedule is tremendous, and includes some of my favorites:

Monday: Anne Kearney, of Rue Dumaine, the James Beard Foundation 1999 - 2002 "Southeast Regional Best Chef" nominee and 2002 "Best Chef Southeast"
Tuesday: David Cook, owner of Daveed’s NEXT and a nationally renowned chef. 
Wednesday: Todd Kelly, executive chef of Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza’s restaurants, including Orchids at Palm Court, and American Culinary Federation's 2011-12 USA Chef of the Year 
Thursday: Amy Tobin, New RIFF, food writer and critic
Friday: Chef Danny Combs, Sotto, Boca Group
Saturday: Jean-Robert de Cavel, Jean-Robert’s Table

What to drink

The Western & Southern Open has some fantastic libations as well. If you're into spirits, el Arco Tequila is new to the tourney.

Svedka is back with specialty drinks like the Svedka Smash. If you're more into wine, Robert Mondavi Private Selection will be there, serving some of their best selections of wine. Don't worry, there's beer, too.

And really, you're at a premier tennis tournament, so Indulge in a glass of Moet bubbly. It's really the best way to celebrate the best week of sports in Mason.


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