Dominique Love and Elizabeth Feichter have ventured far and wide to pursue their passion for food.
It wasn’t until recent years that they joined forces to stage what’s become a high-profile event showcasing the cuisine of their native South.
The founders of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival are marking the fifth year since the event began, and it returns May 28-31 at the Loews Atlanta Hotel and other Midtown locales.
On “City Lights,” they explained to host Lois Reitzes that friends in the Atlanta culinary world — most notably Bantam + Biddy restaurateur Shaun Doty — urged them to extend those passions about food to include the part of the world they love the most.
“We have a belief that our Southern culture really drives who we are as Southerners and women,” Feichter said.
She and Love, who did consulting work for Food & Wine magazine, got the festival idea from their experiences at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo.
Their collaboration also grew out of Corporate Community Outsourcing, an Atlanta philanthropic consultancy they co-founded a decade ago.
The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival has evolved into a four-day event, with more than 90 classes, 120 tasting event exhibitors and a good number of sit-down connoisseur dinners.
Love and Feichter said planning for each festival begins in August, and they work directly with restaurateurs — and not intermediaries — to develop food offerings.
Among the Georgia “presenters” at next weekend’s festival will be Todd Ginsberg of the General Muir and Yalla, food columnist Christiane Lauterbach and Geoff Melkonian of the soon-to-open Farm to Table.
As the definition of what it means to be Southern continues to expand, so does the notion of what authentic Southern food and drink is all about.
Guests might be surprised to find samplings of Texas wine on the tastings menu, but the Lone Star State boasts the oldest viticulture in America – dating back to monk-planted vines dating from the late 1600s.
“There’s a sense of ‘Who Knew?’” that the festival is aiming to get across, Love said.
“Who knew there’s more than fried chicken and barbecue? Who knew there are award-winning wines?” from Texas to Virginia and even North Carolina.
For ticket and other information about the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, visit Atlanta PlanIt.com.