Thursday, August 4, 2011

Food Network Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival 2011: Part 1 of 3

Pin It Thursday, July 28, 2011

The mighty Caesar with his pan and spatula!

The Food Network Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival Thursday, July 28 – Sunday, July 31 consisted of four days of cooking demonstrations, celebrity chefs, food and wine tasting, and a multitude of events to satisfy foodies. The event was sponsored by Caesars Entertainment and their properties Caesars, Harrah's Resort, Bally's and Showboat held events. This year marked the official second year of the festival under the Food Network umbrella. We attended last year and in 2009, but there were less Food Network celebrity chefs this year but it was still a great time and mini-vacation for us.

Guy Fieri
Pat and Gina Neely

The festival featured Food Network celebrity chefs Guy Fieri (Guy's Big Bite, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives), Pat and Gina Neely (Down Home with the Neely's), Sunny Anderson (Cooking for Real) and Robert Irvine (Dinner Impossible, Restaurant Impossible, Worst Cooks in America). We saw all chefs except for Robert Irvine since we attended a VIP dinner with Sunny Anderson at the same time his event was scheduled - Restaurant Invasion at Casa Di Napoli, Showboat. I am very sorry we missed him and we did not see him at any other events we attended. We stayed at Caesars and got an ocean front room on the 35th floor of the Centurion Towers with a great view.

Sunny Anderson

Robert Irvine

We arrived to Atlantic City on Thursday, July 28, 2011 and had no events scheduled though two kick off parties were going on at the Chelsea, Bikinis & Martinis with Iron Chef Jose Garces and Food Network Festival Kick-Off Party at Harrah's Resort. We attended events we were most interested in and will highlight and share some of our photographs with you.

We went to Virginia City in Bally's Wild Wild West and had a nice meal. Here is a picture of the coconut cake I had, which rivals the Ina Garten recipe I make. It is so delicious and moist. I also like that Virginia City sell their cakes and pies, so if you are in Atlantic City on a birthday or have a special occasion to celebrate you can order to go.

Coconut Cake - Virginia City, Bally's Wild Wild West

In the Caesars lobby, cooking demonstrations took place throughout the festival. I took this photograph of the Viking cooking range as it was being set up. I did not make it back there during the festival to catch a cooking demonstration, but I did see a few minutes here and there throughout Caesars via large screens in the casino floor. 

Viking cooking demonstration being set up in Caesars lobby
Posters such as this one were at the various casinos involved in the festival.

Event poster all over the place!

Friday, July 29, 2011
Allen received "Your EXCLUSIVE Invitation" for Celebrity Chef Dinner & Demonstration in the mail with two options either Friday or Saturday at Harrah's Resort. The invite read, "Don’t miss this chance to sit down to an invitation only dinner with your fellow VIPs and all your favorite TV chefs. Each amazing dinner will be followed by a 20 minute live cooking demonstrations by Food Network stars Robert Irvine, Guy Fieri, Pat and Gina Neely or Sunny Anderson." We picked up our assigned table, seat numbers (table 56, seats 7 and 8) and bracelet an hour ahead of time. The assigned seating was great on Harrah's part because last year you just sat wherever you could find a seat so it was better organized. This ballroom seated hundreds of people, with 12 people to a table. We chose the Friday event at 6pm and got the lovely Sunny Anderson like last year.

Sign of festival taken in the ballroom

Our table


The ballroom and tables had a vivid red theme including the flowers, and there was music playing in the background. Our table was just a few tables away from the cooking demonstration stage area so that was great. As we got to our table, I took a picture of it before everyone sat down. The select breads included delicious banana nut bread that Allen and I enjoyed. A heaping serving of salad was the first course.


Sophia and Allen Fry/Two Fry's

We had two very nice servers Jerry and Michael. They were very nice and attentive. Our fellow VIPs were cool and fun to talk to during the event.

One of our servers :)

Me up by the stage before Sunny Anderson's demo

Sunny Anderson with a whole lot of butter.

Sunny Anderson - cool knife

Sunny Anderson did a twenty-minute cooking demonstration and was very entertaining and fun to watch. Sunny's recipe was Apple and Sweet Potato Soup but a cold summer version of this recipe was served. You could taste the sweet potato, granny smith apples and spices cinnamon, all spice, and cumin. The soup was refreshing and rich. I would like to make the hot version of this soup in the fall since the ingredients remind me of this season. Allen thought Sunny was very personable and approachable and took a picture with her after the cooking demonstration.

Sunny Anderson's Apple and Sweet Potato Soup

Allen about to try Sunny Anderson's Apple and Sweet Potato Soup

Sunny Anderson

Sunny Anderson adding some pepper to the soup ingredients

Sunny Anderson
Sunny Anderson

Sunny Anderson with Allen/Two Fry's

After Sunny left the stage, the main course of Surf and Turf were next. The dish consisted of filet mignon with mushroom sauce, fish, asparagus wrapped in carrot, and a rice dish. I liked the filet mignon best. For dessert, we got a blueberry tart with rosemary herbs, and lemon syrup that was tasty but I wish it had a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This event lasted two hours.

Surf and Turf

Blueberry Tart

Afterwards, we headed outside to overlook the marina and took some pictures for awhile. We saw a really nice cruise boat go by and sitting by the water was soothing. We planned to take the Rewards Shuttle for no cost back to Caesars, but there were so many people on the line and we didn't feel like waiting an hour for another one. We opted to pay for the Jitney which is only $2.25 per person, and we got a fun and bumpy ride back to Caesars. Wee!

Part 2 to be posted tomorrow…

-Sophia and Allen/Two Frys

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