BAM - he's back! Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse will headline the 8th annual Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival, June 2-4, organizers announced at a press conference on April 19 at Emeril's Fish House at The Outlets at Sands Bethlehem. The event is anticipated to be the largest in the franchise's eight-year history.
Hosted by Sands Bethlehem in partnership with Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits, the festival features multiple restaurants, vineyards and distilleries that offer up tasty and generous samples of their wares throughout the Sands Event Center. Sponsorship proceeds from the event go to a good cause - they benefit the Northampton Community College Foundation which provides scholarships to students throughout the region.
Lagasse will bring his passion for food to Bethlehem on Friday, June 2, to kick off the event with his culinary expertise and New Orleans flair during a cooking demonstration. Chef Emeril will also use the occasion to announce the Northampton Community College students who have won highly-competitive externships to work in his New Orleans restaurants. Each year, six students from the College's acclaimed Culinary and Hospitality Management program receive all-expenses-paid externships to gain invaluable experience honing their skills in the acclaimed chef's New Orleans kitchens. Culinary students Samantha Lee and Logan Fulse were in attendance at the press conference. They are finalists in the Emeril competition and will compete in the kitchen for a chance at one of the externship spots.
Chef Emeril has been a part of the festival since the beginning. "I look forward to participating in the Lehigh Valley Food and Wine Festival every year and this year is no exception. Besides the great wine and delicious food, the best part about the festival is that it benefits college students, many of whom will be the next generation of chefs in our country. And that, as you know, is something that will always be near and dear to my heart," he said.
"The partnership between NCC and the Sands has continued through this food and wine festival to be extremely beneficial," Sands Bethlehem CEO Mark Juliano said at the press conference. "I can't tell you how many wonderful candidates we have met from the culinary program from NCC that have become part of our own family here at the Sands. The real magic of it is that it gives us exposure to some terrific talent that the school has developed."
The festival annually raises about $250,000 a year for the Northampton Community College Foundation, which goes towards student scholarships, NCC President Dr. Mark Erickson said at the event. "Scholarships that quite honestly change lives," Erickson said. "We have great food, great wine, and a lot of fun that goes on at the festival. But there is more to it than that. It's also about our students. We love to get our students involved."
One of the students involved is Brittany Magaro, an office administrative assistance student, who won the Food and Wine poster design competition held in communication design classes. Magaro and her instructor, Sarah Sterner-Hausknecht, unveiled the poster at the press conference.
Mike Molewski, chair of the Food and Wine Committee, marveled at the growth of the festival from a small, one-day tented event to the full-weekend experience it has become.
The event's Grand Tasting will run Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4, from noon to 4 p.m. Guests will enjoy plates from Chef Emeril's most popular eateries as well as the region's most prestigious restaurants along with an impressive array of fine wines from around the world. A special tasting room will offer a wide variety of champagnes and spirits to sample while a cigar bar will feature premium cigars available for purchase.
Each day of the festival will also feature the area's top chefs leading cooking demonstrations and wine seminars highlighting notable experts. Popular blues/rock touring artist Craig Thatcher Band will perform June 3-4 during festival hours.
Foodies and wine connoisseurs alike have been flocking to the event since 2010. "Visitors from near and far come to the Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival for a taste of all the Valley has to offer," added Molewski. "This is the fastest growing festival in the region and brings together some of the best chefs in the area with food enthusiasts for two delicious days of wining and dining."
Participating restaurants to date include: 187 Rue Principal, 904 West Restaurant & Lounge, Aunt Wendy's Kiffles, Bayou, Bravo! Cucina Italiano, Bell Hall, Blue, Broadway Social, Buddy V's Ristorante, Carnegie Deli, Centro, Chocolate Works, The Dime, Fiesta Ole, Grain, Hampton Winds, Hellertown Bakery, Kingfish, Komé, The Melting Pot, Melt, Mitzi's Table, Momento Pizzeria and Restaurant, Queen City BBQ, Sodexo, Spinnerstown Hotel, Steelworks Buffet & Grill, Topcut, Torre, The Twisted Olive, The Vineyard, and Yianni's Taverna.
Tickets for each day of the Grand Tasting are $85, and advance purchase is recommended at lehighvalleyfoodandwine.com or at the Sands Event Center box office. Each attendee will receive a souvenir wine glass. Attendees must be 21 years of age or older. Tickets for Friday's Chef Emeril Lagasse cooking demonstration are $75. Sponsorship proceeds benefit scholarships for Northampton Community College students. Sponsorship opportunities are still available and can be found at lehighvalleyfoodandwine.com.
Buy tickets and stay up-to-date on new restaurant and wine list additions at http://lehighvalleyfoodandwine.com.
Enter the "Food and Wine Getaway Contest" for a chance to win an overnight stay at the beautiful Sands hotel, two grand tasting tickets to the Food and Wine Festival, and a gift certificate for one of the Sands restaurants. Go to http://lehighvalleyfoodandwine.com for contest details and to enter.
View more images from the press conference in this photo gallery.
About the Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival
The Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival has grown from its humble beginnings as a one-day tented event to a full-weekend experience. The largest event of its kind in the region, the festival showcases cuisine from the area's top restaurants and wine from around the world to approximately 5,000 guests over two days. Hosted by Northampton Community College and the Sands Bethlehem, the Festival began in 2010 to provide hands-on experience to Northampton's Culinary and Hospitality Management students, raise money for the NCC Foundation, and celebrate the tantalizing dining experiences available in the Lehigh Valley.
About Northampton Community College
With an enduring commitment to the regional community it serves and a focus on student success, Northampton Community College has developed a reputation as an institution of extraordinary distinction, earning accolades at the state and national levels for innovative programs, outstanding faculty and impressive student achievements. It counts among its successful alumni a 4-time Pulitzer Prize winner and an Academy Award winning director as well as a host of CEOs, presidents, and leaders of business and industry. Today, Northampton Community College has locations in Bethlehem, Southside Bethlehem, and Monroe County, serving more than 30,000 students each year from 53 counties, 48 countries and 25 states.
About Sands Bethlehem
Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem opened May of 2009 in Eastern Pennsylvania. It is situated on the site of the historic Bethlehem Steel plant and located approximately 60 minutes from Philadelphia and the northern New Jersey suburbs and 90 minutes from New York City. Sands Bethlehem offers over 3,000 state-of the-art slot machines and over 200 table games including a 30 table poker room, as well as a 282-room hotel and over 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Culinary offerings include Buddy V's Ristorante, of TLC's Cake Boss, and three signature restaurants from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse - Emeril's Chop House, Burgers And More by Emeril and Emeril's Fish House. The casino also features the Carnegie Deli, Chopstick Asian Cuisine, Steelworks Buffet & Grill, Croissanterie and the varied offerings and cuisines of The Market Gourmet Express. It is also home to the Coil Bar and Molten Lounge, which features live entertainment 7 nights a week. The Outlets at Sands Bethlehem launched at the property in November 2011. The Sands Bethlehem Event Center, which opened at the property in May 2012 and includes over 14,000 sq. ft. of flexible multipurpose space, accommodates meetings, conventions and a variety of entertainment events.