MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival grows in Sussex County

The MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival, presented by Bank of America, is returning in 2014, with four days of events in more than 40 venues stretching from the Main Line of Pennsylvania to the Delaware beaches.

The Wine Guild of Sussex County, a group of wine aficionados — collectors, lovers and retailers — who gather monthly to taste interesting wines and share fellowship, support the festival with their. Anyone interested in membership is welcome and can RSVP to lstimson@mawff.org.

The festival’s 46 events feature the cuisine of more than 90 chefs hailing from six continents, and 18 winemakers. The events in Sussex County are:

• Festival Brew Lunch; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton; Thursday, May 15, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

• The Art of Food Winemakers Dinner; at a private home in Lewes, 6:30-10:30 p.m.

• The Farmer Meets the Fisherman: A Pop-Up Dinner; Magee Farms in Lewes; Thursday, May 15, 6:30-10:30 p.m.

• Tapas and Rioja Lunch; Ivy restaurant, Dewey Beach; Friday, May 16, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

• I’ll Have What She’s Having Lunch Adventure; a(MUSE.), Rehoboth Beach; Friday, May 16, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

• Winemakers Dinner: Barefoot Black Tie; at the home of Alex Pires in Dewey Beach; Friday, May 16, 7-11 p.m.

• Winemakers Lunch in Rehoboth; Eden restaurant, Rehoboth Beach; Saturday, May 17, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

• American Express 1,000-Point Wine Tasting: South, Eden restaurant, Rehoboth Beach, Saturday, May 17, 3-5 p.m.

• Winemakers Dinner at the Beach; at a private home in Rehoboth Beach; Saturday, May 17, 6:30-10:30 p.m.

• Sunday Jazz Brunch; Nassau Valley Vineyards, Lewes; Sunday, May 18, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

A designated portion of the net 2014 festival proceeds will benefit five community organizations in Delaware. The beneficiaries in Sussex County are CAMP Rehoboth and the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation.

Restaurateur Matt Haley knows a little something about community-mindedness, having recently learned he’s being honored with the 2014 James Beard Humanitarian of the Year Award. One of the first events that Haley will be hosting after the May awards ceremony is the Farmer Meets the Fisherman: a Pop-Up Dinner.

He said, “We are excited to be a part of the festival. It is such a wonderful community-minded event, and we’re especially thrilled that it is positively impacting our region. It’s always nice to be able to showcase the abundance of talent we have in Southern Delaware with our chefs, farmers and fishermen. We hope to represent our community well.”

In all, 18 Sussex County chefs have signed on to cook alongside at least 72 other international, national and regional chefs: Ronnie Burkle, NorthEast Seafood Kitchen; Hari Cameron, a(MUSE.); Jay Caputo, Jay Caputo Restaurant Group; Ryan Cunningham, Abbott’s Grill on Broad Creek; Ted Deptula, Nage; Andrew Feeley, Eden; Paul Gallo, Abbott’s Grill; Lion Gardner, Blue Moon; Matt Haley, Matt Haley Companies; Shane Kellagher, 14 Global; Peter McMahon, Ivy and Rusty Rudder; Tim McNitt, The Back Porch; Danielle Panarello, Eden; Kevin Reading, Abbott’s Grill; Doug Ruley, SoDel Concepts; Yasuhiro Sano, The Cultured Pearl; Brenton Wallace, Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats; and, Robert Wood, The Cultured Pearl.

Delaware high school and college culinary students will work alongside professional chefs in festival kitchens. Chef Peter McMahon is the executive chef of all 10 events in Sussex County.

Scott Thomas, executive director of Southern Delaware Tourism, said, “An event with such a draw as the MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival, with its expanding series of events taking place in Sussex County, Del., is a great attraction for reinforcing our reputation as the Culinary Coast.”

The former chef of Rehoboth Beach’s Back Porch Café, known locally as Siri McDang, is returning to Delaware from his home country of Thailand to cook for the festival. As a member of the Thai royal family, he is known as M.L. Sirichalerm Svasti. He is also the expert on Thai cooking for Le Cordon Bleu and is an author.

One of the festival’s most popular marquee events — the American Express 1,000-Point Wine Tasting — will take place concurrently in two counties, with Eden restaurant serving as the Sussex County host venue.

The festival established four new lunches and a first-ever Sunday event in Southern Delaware: a jazz brunch at Nassau Valley Vineyards. Several Sussex Countians, including Alex Pires and Magee Farms, have opened their homes and properties for winemakers’ dinners. A sampling of Dogfish Head brews is complemented by a lunch at the brewery.

Tickets for the festival events are available at www.mawff.org, where guests can also purchase gift certificates. For additional information about the festival, call Laura Stimson at (302) 660-2200, ext. 105.

The MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival began as an independent festival in 2013. The festival’s purpose is to be the premier food and wine event of the MidAtlantic, featuring international vintners and chefs in collaboration with our local talent, to bring tourism to Delaware and to increase awareness of local cultural assets.

The festival’s inaugural year included 42 events, chefs and winemakers from five continents, and attracted 4,328 ticketholders from 16 states and nine countries. The festival is the beneficiary of a two -year capacity-building grant from the Longwood Foundation.