Summer Food Festivals: Where Chefs Go to Eat Up!

Summer means the return of outdoor food festivals. We asked our chef friends from around the country to tell us their must-do’s.
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Food Festival

Get Your Meat On

Heritage Fire Napa in St. Helena, CA
August 27,

The Scene: More than 50 chefs and butchers cook 3,500 pounds of “heritage” meat—meaning the whole pigs, lambs, ducks, rabbits and more are from smaller breeds sustainably raised on family farms—over open flames. The setting in picturesque Napa Valley doesn’t hurt either.

The Chef Rec: “Chefs craft custom-built steel structures for roasting ducks and chickens, or drape whole pigs and lambs over open fires,” says chef Thomas Boemer, co-owner of Corner Table in Minneapolis. “My all-time favorite: Someone slow-roasted a five-foot whole sturgeon vertically, next to a column of fire. A crowd gathered to see the unveiling of the perfectly cooked meat, and then they devoured it.”

Tomato drink

Say Tomato! 

Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival in Atlanta 
July 16,

The Scene: All-you-can-eat peak-season tomatoes are served up every which way by more than 40 chefs, 40 farmers and 15 mixologists.  

The Chef Rec: “Nothing beats a summer tomato,” says festival founder chef Ford Fry, owner of JCT Kitchen & Bar in Atlanta. “Everyone goes all-out showing how creative they can get. One year, there was a tomato jelly doughnut filled with bacon-fat mayo. It was out of this world.”

Ribbon Fries

Eat Like a Cincinnatian Glier’s Goettafest in Newport, KY
August 3 to 6,

The Scene: Sample—or gorge on—Cincinnati and northern Kentucky’s pride: goetta, a scrapple-ish breakfast staple made of beef, pork, oats, onions and spices. Try it worked into a Reuben, loaded “ribbon fries” (above), mac ’n’ cheese and dozens of other dishes.  

The Chef Rec: “This is a celebration of America’s greatest and most underappreciated breakfast meat,” says chef Brendan Haren, of Coppin’s Restaurant & Bar in Covington, KY.