A Tasty Adventure – The 5th Annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival

Hungry? It’s the 5th Annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival!

Is the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival on your entertainment radar? Why did it take us five years to put this event on our travel schedule? It was a dreamy experience where we could celebrate our passion for upscale dining and supporting local restaurants and wineries. What better way to investigate the best of what Orange County has to offer than by nibbling and sipping in the same place? Under vast white tents and flanked by cars from Range Rover and Jaguar, this event was over-the-top fantastic.

annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival
Honey Lavender Roasted Pear & Gorgonzola Bruschetta by Maggiano’s

Paradise in Newport Beach

Craig and I finally attended this foodie paradise on Saturday in sunny Newport Beach, California and it was certainly worth the wait. Blue skies, beautiful people, a light sea breeze, mixed with savory aromas and the clinking of glasses made this an event to remember. Over forty four different restaurants offered incredible bites to dazzle every visitor. Each chef designs the perfect small plate or bite and it is created with eye-catching colors and a presentation like an artist’s palette. So yummy. It is frankly impossible to decide which one was our favorite!

annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival
Colorful and delicious Blackberry Mint Margaritas by Red O, Newport Beach

In addition to taste after taste, we had the opportunity to try some innovative hand crafted cocktails, buttery Chardonnays, and bold Cabs. Pacing yourself is a necessity!

annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival
Selfie fun with Top Chef Katsuji Tanabe

annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival


Many culinary chef “stars” were there to demonstrate techniques and clever cooking tips. Each one offered something unique and they all could not have been more friendly and outgoing. I am a huge fan of all things culinary, the vibrant restaurant scene as well at Bravo TV Top Chef.

annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival
Chef Hubert Keller is one of my very favorite chefs. Talking with him and his lovely wife was a highlight!

Bravo’s Top Chef

Craig and I have enjoyed nearly every season of Bravo’s Top Chef. The intense competition, decisive culinary skills and creative recipes keep us entertained week after week. We actually get rather emotionally attached to these “cheftestants” because they are all so sincere and share their innermost feelings as well as their personal lives.

This season’s Top Chef was located in a red-hot culinary city Denver, Colorado. These incredibly talented chefs performed these challenges within the city limits as well as in evergreen forests in the mountains. The competition is always fierce, but there is only one winner and this year’s Top Chef winner was Joe Flamm.

annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival
With Top Chef winner Joe Flamm and cheftestant Tyler Anderson – They were awesome.

My interview with Top Chef Winner Joe Flamm

Chefs and best pals, Joe Flamm and Tyler Anderson, were at the event to say hi to their fans and demonstrate their culinary chops. Because the Top Chef winner was so busy with many media obligations, an in person interview wasn’t possible, but he was able to answer my questions via email and takes a great photo! Thank you!

Here is what he had to say:

  1. I have watched almost every single season of Top Chef and your season was one of my very favorites. In addition to the creative dishes, what I liked most was watching the camaraderie between all of the chefs and the sincere willingness to help each other. Why do you think this group was so congenial?
    I think it was a level of respect. This season was a very talented crew of chefs and I think we were all humbled by the opportunity to be there. I personally felt really lucky to have such a great crew. It’s a very stressful experience, so having a crew like we did makes it a lot easier.
  2. You’re getting to participate in Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival alongside many of your fellow Top Chef contestants. What are you most excited for? Getting the band back together!! Can’t wait to see and cook with my friends again, especially in an unreal setting like Newport Beach, and without all the Top Chef stress.
  3. When did you first realize that you really could have a great career as a chef?
    I’m still trying to realize that every day! It’s a grind – a balance and a struggle – but its been the only thing I have wanted to do with myself since I walked into a kitchen 12 years ago.
  4. I read a lovely article about you in the July 2018 issue of Food and Wine. You mentioned how your love of brown sugar led to your winning dish of Brown Sugar Cake with Ricotta and Blueberries. What other winning dishes do you make with brown sugar? I love brown sugar and use it for everything, from sauce work, bbq rubs, mostardas – you name it!


Special unexpected adventures!

annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival
The always engaging Top Chef Richard Blais

As VIP Members of the media, we were allowed into the event thirty minutes prior to the opening start time. The area under the tents was still fairly quiet and finishing touches were still happening in the booths. This advantage offered an opportunity to actually speak with some of the chefs one on one. Did I hit the chef lottery! I am so in awe of these talented individuals, but I did not allow myself to be intimidated and I was rewarded by meeting the most genuine, kind, friendly and engaging famous chefs. Pinch me please.

annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival
Chef Michael Mina’s famous Tuna Tartare from Bourbon Steak Restaurant at the Monarch Beach Resort – Fresh, buttery tuna with pear, pine nuts, garlic, sesame oil, peppers and tiny quail egg. Divine!
annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival
Chef Bryan Brown & Chef Michael Mina make Michael’s famous (and my personal favorite) Tuna Tartare

And a little more from the 5th Annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival

All of the fun-loving chefs in one photo! They were having a blast.
annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival
Benny from WhistlePig Rye Whiskey
annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival
Chef Linda Johnsen from Filomena

Chefs, food, wine and spirits have been elevated to such heights, I don’t know how it can get any better, but it always does! What I do know is that attending an event like the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival is the perfect way to explore all of the tasty possibilities of a local food scene all in one spot. It is a unique chance to talk one on one with local chefs, celebrity chefs, winemakers and other culinary professionals.

annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival
These vivacious empty nesters shared their vast knowledge of wines by Juggernaut Winery


Make sure you mark your calendar for next year at this time, so you don’t miss it! These events sell out quickly and you don’t want to wait five years to attend like we did!


Have you attended a food and wine event recently?


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1 thought on “A Tasty Adventure – The 5th Annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival”

  1. Suzanne,
    It was so much fun to share this experience with you through this blog post! I feel like I was right there with you two. (IF only!!!) I loved the gorgeous photos and hearing all of your thoughts throughout the post. Thank you so much for sharing! xoxo Suzy


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