Foodie Events / Restaurants

Fort Worth’s Four Day Food Holiday — This Food + Wine Festival Puts Local Chefs Centerstage

A Secret Brunch With Three James Beard Honored Chefs Finishes It All

BY // 04.08.23

More than 7,000 North Texas foodies are still wearing their stretchy pants after rubbing shoulders with some of the top chefs, restauranteurs, pitmasters, distillers and vintners in the region ― and the nation — at the 2023 Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival. This four-day feeding frenzy was certainly memorable.

As in past years, the primary venue was the Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork, with a new event called Night Market taking place at TX Whiskey Ranch. It featured a globe-trotting array of street foods, from hand-rolled dolmas by Hedary’s Lebanese to Vietnamese dumplings with beef and potato in mint chili oil from Hao & Dixya, and pecan smoked potato gnocchi from Gnocchi Dokie catering. Thoughtful cocktails were prepared by some of Fort Worth’s top mixologists.

Hao and Dixya's beef and potato samosa dumpling from Night Market. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Hao and Dixya’s beef and potato samosa dumpling from Night Market. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Back at Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork, the 13 acre venue on the grounds of the historic Edwards Ranch got transformed into an outdoor party with pop-up tents and pole-style teepees for foodies to peruse. Along with many acclaimed wineries sampling their best, there were new and notable distilleries and beverages, including Taco Heads and Tinies owner Sarah Castillo’s new tequila brand La Pulga Spirits ― which is a super smooth blanco.

Fort Worth Food + Wine Fest Taco Mania

At Tacos & Tequila, Matt Pittman of Meat Church offered up a brisket taco with pickled onion and the crunch of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Toro Toro owner and chef Richard Sandoval was one of the biggest names on hand, serving one of the most colorful creations of the night draped with red chile sauce. Plus, Funky Town Donuts brought a lime-forward prickly pear margarita donut.

The Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival Main Event saw chef Michael Thompson’s clam chowder with an attitude, including chipotle chiles in the delicious soup. Fitzgerald offered diners a bright ahi tuna ceviche marinated in sweetened coconut, lime, jalapeno and togarashi. Jenny Castor of Luckybee Kitchen wowed fans with another out-of-the-box creation this year (her fried sunflowers drew long lines in 2022). This time, she handed out cotton candy infused with smoked black garlic. Trust me it worked.

Jenny Castor serves up smoked black garlic cotton candy. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Jenny Castor serves up smoked black garlic cotton candy. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Foodies were welcomed to Rise & Dine by Carpenter’s Cafe & Catering’s famous chicken salad and a very dressy avocado toast by Gounds & Gold. Other brunchy delights included Trent Shaskan’s immaculate sourdough loaves, and Stir Crazy Bakery’s savory cheese scones. Many were happily introduced to Yellow Rose Smokehouse, (currently popping up at the Showdown Saloon next door to Kincaid’s) who brought a porkstrami Monte Cristo sandwich with garlic dijonnaise.

Let's Rodeo Houston!

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  • Bering's Gift's Rodeo 2024
  • Bering's Gift's Rodeo 2024
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  • Bering's Gift's Rodeo 2024

Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival’s Burgers, Brews and Blues event celebrated sliders with abandon. Tommy’s took home top honors as judges’ choice for its Thai Tommy topped with a cute umbrella. It featured Thai sauce, kimchi, cheese and purple onion. JD’s Hamburgers won fan favorite for its Pig and Pico burger laden with cream cheese and bacon on a jalapeno cheddar bun. Brews were poured into baby pint glasses by the likes of Fort Brewery, Community Beer, Independence and Shannon Brewing, just to name a few.

2023 – Ardrian Burciaga poses with Don Artemio’s roasting cabrito at Ring of Fire. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Ardrian Burciaga poses with Don Artemio’s roasting cabrito at Ring of Fire. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Finally, Ring of Fire brought out some of North Texas’ most celebrated pitmasters. Panther City BBQ brought a melt-in-your-mouth reverse-seared ribeye strip with chimichurri. James Beard Best New Restaurant finalist Don Artemio roasted a smoked cabrito. Zavala’s Barbecue served up a lavish prime rib with a light horseradish sauce, and Dayne’s Craft went whole hog with its pulled pork and Texas gold sauce.

VIP Experiences

Along with the six ticketed events were two exclusive collaborative dining experiences. Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival (FWFWF) kicked off with Noche del Soul, which was held at The Fort Worth Club. Acclaimed chef Tiffany Derry of Roots Southern Table in Farmers Branch worked alongside Fort Worth chef Juan Rodriguez of Magdelana’s Catering and Events in creating a multi-course menu showcasing their individual styles. It was Southern spice meets Mexican flavor on full display.

2023 – Jon Bonnell’s seared scallops from Water’s Restaurand were a meal in themselves.
Jon Bonnell’s seared scallops from Water’s Restaurant were a meal in themselves. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

To end the festivities, Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival along with Visit Fort Worth joined Garden & Gun magazine for a very special brunch. It was set in a secret location only accessible by private shuttle, the farm-fresh affair brought together three nationally recognized Southern chefs to create one unforgettable menu. James Beard Semifinalist Molly McCook of Ellerbe Fine Foods, Jon Bonnell of Bonnell’s Restaurant Group, joined seven-time James Beard Semifinalist David Bancroft of Auburn Alabama’s Bow & Arrow BBQ presented a menu rooted in the flavors of the American South.

The annual spring celebration, produced by the Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation, isn’t just good fun and fabulous food, it exists with a clear purpose to enhance culinary education in the area. It gives local culinary students the chance to work alongside the best in the industry, awarding scholarships to further their education and launch careers in the restaurant industry.

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