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Food Network Alantic City Food & Wine Fest

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Joined: 19 Oct 2007
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Location: central PA

PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 4:28 pm    Post subject: Food Network Alantic City Food & Wine Fest Reply with quote

We attended the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival this year (07/29 - 08/01, 2010.)
This is the second year for the event - it is still not free of growing pains - and has now been "branded" by the Food Network this year (
The branding 'features' celebrity chefs - regrets as the Food Network is inventing celebrity chefs at a high rate of speed, you might not be all too familiar with them.

A non-obvious partner in the deal is Harrahs - the events were staged at Harrahs Resort, Ballys, Caesars, Showboat, etc - all Harrahs properties. We had made reservations by web; two days before kick-off we got an email: our reserved 'packaged deal' were "sold out" - which put us 'on your own' to find a room and get tickets to the gatherings of interest. I suspect they wait to see how well the event is selling, and if it's going well the package reservations are cancelled in favor of the "ala carte" higher price schemes. Individual events were not "sold out" - one could simply walk up, pay the admission, get a ticket - right past the 'opening time' of the event. After being told our package was "sold out" we were able to buy any and all the tickets individually.

Part of the growing pain is indeed that (most) events are "unlimited admission." The numbers admitted may be unlimited, but the space is not unlimited - making for 'crowded' conditions to simply 'forget it, let's get out of here' events.

If you opt to go, be warned, the Atlantic City hotels aim at making their entire annual budget off a single weekend. A double room - with taxes and all the extra "we're broke, pony up" fees imposed by the city and state - runs $500+ a night - and for that price you do not get internet access ($10.95+taxes) or parking - extra costs there.

Event info/impressions:

Wine Down 101
One hour seminar with Michael Green. Excellent for the wine newbie to intermediate - many of the myths and truths surrounding tasting and buying wines are exposed and explained. Michael Green is exceptionally knowledgeable in his field and has the knack of conveying knowledge in simple terms without the wine snob mumbo jumbo. Eight different wines were presented for tasting / discussion and comparison.

Grapes & Global Tapas
Major disappointment; the scope and quality of this event did not remotely justify the cost ($125 per person.) Listed were thirteen stations - bite size samplers. Organizational failure, for example the Italian station offered ravioli something (pan sauted, 2-3 at a time, one burner, small pan) - the line still stretched 50-60 couples long after two hours, so were unable to sample that station.

The Grand Market
Billed as:
"The Signature Event of the Food Network Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, The Grand Market will truly be the dining highlight of your year!"

While waiting for the doors to open event staffers cautioned us not to over do it with the alcohol tasting as quite a few inebriated patrons resulted from the previous sessions.
Reason: about 50% of the stations are alcohol product related.
A number of stations did not offer a sample - you had to purchase a sample.
There were six celebrity location food sampling stations - with a line that stretched across the room. after the stations the line terminated in a corner - they need a traffic engineer.
Frankly, Burger King makes for a better dining highlight.

"Culinary demonstrations by celebrity chefs will provide you with myriad ways to enhance your own dining experiences."
In our session the demonstrations turned out to be live infomercials for sponsors products; we departed.

And why was the vinyl replacement window company exhibiting?

Given the unlimited admission and over crowding - coupled with the lack of organization and failure to approach the billing, not an especially worthwhile couple of hours.

Interesting - but extraordinarily expensive in relation to perceived value.
Buy your tickets on-line, don't stay at an AC hotel; use an 'inland' hotel and drive to the events.
Be very careful in selecting events of interest and be prepared for the "subject to change without notice" routine.
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