Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic is back in Yeatman's Cove for two days of food and drink

Foodies, culinary stars mingle on the river
Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic is back in Yeatman's Cove for two days of food and drink
Posted at 8:00 AM, Sep 18, 2017

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic returns to Yeatman's Cove on Sept. 22 for a celebration of food and drink showcasing local, regional and national culinary stars.

Now in its fourth year, CFWC will feature leading sommeliers, mixologists and nationally acclaimed food writers, along with top culinary talent from Cincinnati and other cities such as Pittsburgh; Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky; New York and San Francisco. This year's CFWC will span two days, one less than last year.

"We began as a two-day event and thought we'd give three days a try," said CFWC co-founder Donna Covrett. (Courtney Tsitouris, who co-founded CFWC in 2014 with Covrett to showcase Cincinnati's burgeoning food scene, resigned in January.) "But we have so many moving parts -- so many events within the event -- plus over 150 participating talent, we think it simply works better to distill the energy."

Based on last year's takeaways, Covrett said they are improving on the synergy between food and beverage, along with "creating more intimacy in the large footprint of Yeatman's Cove."

She is expecting a crowd of 3,500 to 4,000 this year and, as before, a portion of the proceeds will go toward the Corporation for Findlay Market and the Freestore Foodbank.


CFWC will offer multiple programming tracks, but these experiences will be ongoing.

Live Fire Grill Pavilion: The Live Fire Grill Pavilion will allow guests to interact with and get tips from notable chefs and pit-masters. Some of the featured chefs include Dan Wright (Senate), Marc Pauvert (master butcher, Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore) and Chad Rosenthal (The Lucky Well and Banh Street, Philadelphia; Food Network).

Artisan Marketplace: Local artisans and craftsmen will showcase and sell culinary-related wares including honey, teas, chocolates, cutting boards and ceramics.

The program

There are essentially three parts to the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic:

6:30-9:30 p.m. Friday

($95 online, $110 the weekend of / at the door)

More than two dozen chefs will put their best grilled food forward in the Grill Invitational Competition. They will vie for the best dish award in two different categories: Judge's Choice and People's Choice. Last year's winner, Paul Barraco of 20 Brix, will return to defend his title. There will be plenty of wine, beer, desserts and live music to go with the grilled bites.

The Friday Night Ticket includes The Grill Invitational Competition and Grand Tasting, Beverage Grand Tasting, Live Fire Grill Pavilion and Dessert Pavilion.

Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday

($95 online, $110 the weekend of / at the door)

This daytime event emphasizes educational programming, with plenty of culinary demonstrations, conversations and even a sommelier competition. For the first time, three Procter & Gamble executives will go head to head in a cooking competition for the title of best chef.

The Rising Stars Lunch and Saturday Savor grand tastings will run parallel to the educational programming, with roughly 24 participating restaurants. However, the grand tastings will end at 3 p.m. while the educational programming will continue until 5 p.m. The Dessert Pavilion won't be available during the day, but there will be a few sweet dishes in the grand tastings.

The Saturday Day Ticket includes Rising Stars Lunch Grand Tasting (12-3 p.m.), Saturday Savor Grand Tasting (12-3 p.m.), Live Fire Grill Pavilion, Beverage Grand Tasting.

6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday

($95 online, $110 the weekend of / at the door)

This year's CFWC concludes with Saturday's Feast in the Park Grand Tasting. The grand finale will feature food from approximately 27 restaurants along with plenty of wine, beer, desserts and live music.

The Saturday Night Ticket includes Feast in the Park Grand Tasting, Beverage Grand Tasting, Live Fire Grill Pavilion and Dessert Pavilion.

Want to be a VIP?

The all-inclusive VIP pass ($330) opens up additional exclusive experiences. Guests will have access to the VIP Lounge, where they can enjoy an open bar, wine tastings and cocktail demonstrations led by mixology stars such as Molly Wellmann.

A sneak peek

Barraco of 20 Brix will defend his Grill Invitational championship with a vegetarian dish. He will prepare chilled tomato soup flavored with yuzu kosho and fresh herbs. Grilled-cheese custard, made in-house, will accompany the soup.

"It's a play on grilled cheese and tomato soup but with Asian flavors," he said.

The other competing chefs are bringing their comestible arsenals as well. Dana Scott Adkins, executive chef at Revolution Rotisserie, will prepare corn and charred jalapeno bisque with chicken and black bean ravioli, tomato chipotle jam and corn cake. Steven Shockley, chef de cuisine at The Anchor, will serve skewers of Spanish octopus, local tomatoes and vadouvan roasted squash. Josh and Nicole House, the husband-and-wife team of Pickles and Bones, hope to win with hoe cakes, brisket and charred vegetables.

For Saturday's daytime grand tasting, Guy Burgess, executive chef at Oriental Wok, will serve Luo Si Fen, a spicy noodle bowl from Liuzhou, China. Hotel Covington executive chef Brendan Haren will prepare crispy Indiana trout with end-of-the-summer ratatouille and yellow tomato vinaigrette for Saturday night's Feast in the Park Grand Tasting.

Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic

Yeatman's Cove, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown
Sept. 22-23
Tickets: $95-$330.

Grace Yek writes about food for WCPO Digital. She is a certified chef-de-cuisine with the American Culinary Federation, and a former chemical engineer. Questions or comments? Connect with her on Twitter: @Grace_Yek.