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Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Celebrates Southern Cuisine

Southern food and drink has a rich history, says Dominique Love.

As co-founder of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, Love believes it is necessary to share the abundance of story and history of southern food. And it is this sharing of story and history that is at the center of the festival events.

“Fried chicken is not just fried chicken on a plate. There is a history behind it,” Love told NBCBLK. “Frying foods was a preservation technique. It was about economics and politics and practicality of a specific era.”

Left to Right: Georgia-based chefs Todd Richards and Duane Nutter.

This is particularly true of the African American community, Love suggests.

“If you go deep into the traditions of the south, a good majority of it points to the influence of slavery and the role of domestics as chefs,” she said. “This is a very powerful and important story that should be remembered and celebrated. It is also important to know the European influences and Native American influences on southern cuisine.”

Thursday, June 2, kicks off the four-day weekend of the sixth annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. The festival, which is spread throughout numerous venues in Midtown Atlanta, is separated into learning experiences, tastings and dinners/events.

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“We are constantly trying to remind people that we are not just a festival. We are one part conference, one part tasting, one part party,” Love said. “The weekend is a culmination of a lot of different elements designed to shine an international spotlight on the rich tradition of food from Texas to D.C. Every element of the weekend helps to tell the story of southern food and drink, from technique to history to ingredients.”

There are a total of 85 different sessions over the four days that will run the gambit of master classes, panels on feeding communities, drinking demonstrations and more.

Southern cuisine dish featured at the annual food festival.  / AFWF 2015.

For three days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday – tasting tents will be available for three hours at Piedmont Park. And in the evenings there will be special events and dinners for participants to mingle. There is also a “pop-up” vineyard.

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As the nation’s first-ever culinary event dedicated to southern food, Love also believes there is another reason the festival is so important – the diversity of representation.

“We need more people of color and women entering into culinary careers. There just aren’t enough,” she said. “Ask Todd [Richards] and Duane [Nutter]. It was tough for them to break into the industry because they had no one to look up to – or path to follow.”

She is hopeful, adding that events like the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is a manifestation of the possibilities.

Throughout the weekend, NBCBLK will highlight some of the special events during the festival including featuring some of the black chefs participating. For more information on the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival visit http://atlfoodandwinefestival.com

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