May is in full bloom, which means even more foodie festivals to celebrate the summer season. After a successful first year, the Raleigh Food & Wine Festival is back this year with even more in store for both attendees and vendors. The festival takes place Thursday, May 19, 2016 through Sunday, May 22, 2016. The Grand Tasting Event takes place on Sunday in Downtown Raleigh, but dinners, tastings and classes take place Thursday through Saturday at various locations around Raleigh.
Lisa Jeffries and Samad Hachby launched the inaugural festival in June 2015. Samad serves as Creative Director and Executive Chef from Babylon Restaurant & Melrose Knitting Mill special events venue. Lisa is the Founder and Principal of Raleighwood Media Group + Raleighwood Event Group. Raleigh Food & Wine Festival offer attendees a way to experience a multitude of Raleigh-based restaurants, food, and beverage, in a condensed format. With over 30 years in combined hospitality industry experience, Samad and Lisa knew Raleigh was ready for a food and wine festival of its own.
Similar events are popular in larger cities and typically on a larger scale, but Lisa notes plans to keep the Southern charm element strong with Raleigh Food & Wine Festival. For 2016, the RFWF plans to welcome up to 70 vendors, but still maintain incredible focus on the attendee experience. “So often with larger festivals, you spend so much time waiting in line for samples, you don’t get to actually talk with the restauranteur or vendor. We emphasize quality, not quantity when it comes to vendors and attendee numbers. We want to give everyone an enjoyable experience where they can experience and taste the foods and products that are current and available in the Triangle market now as well as get to know the passionate people behind them,” Lisa says.
This event is truly one-of-a-kind and unique to the Triangle because it offers attendees a “choose your own adventure” vibe. The Grand Tasting Event is Sunday, but there are so many other events leading up to the big day. From casual wine tastings to elegant dinners, it’s up to you to choose how foodie you want to feel. Lisa also continues on to explain, “We want to keep our numbers relatively small in order to maintain a sense of ‘controlled chaos’ for attendees. Of course Sunday is going to be lively and animated, but we want our participants to be able to connect with other attendees and the professionals in attendance, too. Last year, we had many vendors who are able to chat and develop relationships with other vendors because they’re all in an environment where they can connect outside of their hectic everyday lives in the kitchen.
Check out their website for more information including specific dates and times of events. Keep in mind you must be at least 21 to attend the Sunday tasting event. They have also been kind enough to offer a special giveaway for Tri Foodies readers. Click here or on the banner below to win two VIP tickets to the Raleigh Food & Wine Festival Sunday Tasting event. Contest ends on Sunday, May 8th, 2016 at 11:59pm so make sure to get your entry in now!
Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @