The Saratoga Wine and Food Festival kicked off Friday evening with a brand new event featuring Brews, Blues and BBQ. Craft beer was the perfect answer for the sticky weather and the well attended event set just the right tone for a weekend full of fine wine, spectacular food and fast cars.
A large crowd had already assembled outside the gates at SPAC before the party began and quickly filled the tents eager to start sampling food from several different restaurants. As the music began and attendees filled their plates, we spotted Ashley Dingeman and Tim Schmidt who were raving about the Brook Tavern’s tuna tacos.
Andi and Chris Dolinsky, Jenn Smith and Rebecca Lawrence were in line for the very popualr Tito’s vodka cocktail, a “Texas Mule” made with mint, jalapeno and lime juice, a fitting cocktail for the summer night. Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur Marc Murphy was the headliner for this year’s Festival and was the host for Friday’s party. It was his first time in Saratoga and he chatted and took pictures with enthusiastic guests throughout the evening, while the main event of the night got underway, a downstate versus upstate BBQ Challenge.
Four Capital Region Chefs faced off with four chefs from New York City in a competition style grill off with a winner picked based on a people’s choice and a judge’s choice awards. Our local talent was fierce with Sean Comiskey of Druthers Brewing, Kyle Lewis of The Brook Tavern and Maria Mendez of Henry Street Taproom and Jamie Ortiz from 677 Prime in Albany, comprising the Upstate team. The downstate chef’s hailed from Duke's Original Roadhouse, Marseille, Tessa and Tolani Restaurant. All of Friday’s guests were given a ballot to vote for the people’s choice and the Judge’s Choice award was determined by Jason Resner of Price Chopper, Steve Barnes and Tom Thibeault of Adirondack Appliance. The upstate team swept the competition earning more points than their downstate competitors with Jamie Ortiz taking home the judge’s award and Sean Comiskey winning the people’s choice. Spotted watching all the action were Linda Toohey, SPAC President and Executive Director Marcia White, Leigh and Chuck Greiner, Jacob Hopper and Terry Leahy. As the competition concluded guests dance the night away to the live blues music.
Saturday marked the hugely popular Grand Tasting and Master Wine Concourse D’Elegance, and hundreds of people arrived at SPAC for the world class food and wine offerings. Enjoying the day were Scott and Julie Johnson, Heather and Brian Straughter, Kir and Mike Gibson as well as Barb Ferraro, Jeff and Patty Novo and Melissa and Chris Zieker.
The proceeds of the Festival, now in its 14th year, will go to benefit SPAC’s children’s education program.