One of the first Fort Worth events to fall prey to the pandemic’s mass cancellations in 2020 will remain altered this year. The Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival (FWFWF) typically hosts an all-out feeding frenzy at multiple venues, spanning a full weekend of festivities. But with continued uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 and the state of the restaurant industry, the FWFWF Board of Directors made the decision to not host a 2021 Festival, previously considered for April 8 to 11.
Instead, the organization will focus its efforts on presenting what they are calling Forty at the ’Fork, a collaborative dinner series featuring 40 local chefs who will be pairing up to present 20 special pop-up dinners.
This interim format will be a series of small-scale, specialty dinner events that spotlight local culinary talent while raising funds to support the Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation’s ongoing mission of educating and training the next generation by providing scholarships and grants. In 2020 and 2021, that mission expanded to include the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, which has provided more than $110,000 to struggling local service staff, to date.
Each Forty at the ’Fork dinner will be held on a Sunday, Monday or Tuesday evening, between Feb. 28 and April 13. These will be held in the former Twigs American Bistro space at The Shops at Clearfork, and each event will be limited to 50 guests. Utilizing the vast 8,896-square foot location will allow for plenty of social distancing. Each event will stay under 20-percent seating capacity.
Tickets for all 20 Forty at the ’Fork dinners are on sale now at FWFWF.com for $70 per person, and they come with a novel surprise.
While tickets may be purchased for a specific date, the identities of the evening’s featured chefs will not be revealed until on-site at that dinner. The multi-course menu, however, will be announced the week leading up to the event to allow attendees time to purchase their own wine selections. Wine pairing suggestions will be provided by Chris Keel, owner of Put A Cork In It, and Richard King, co-owner of Ellerbe Fine Foods.
The list of chefs participating in Forty at the ’Fork is growing each day, with nearly two
dozen confirmed so far, including:
• Jon Bonnell, Bonnell’s Restaurant Group
• Cindy Crowder, Tributary Café
• Graham Dodd, Elm & Good
• Steve Estes, Brewed
• Rena Frost, Mac’s on Main
• James Gaines, Reata Restaurant
• Paco Islas, Paco’s Mexican Cuisine
• Christian Lehrmann, Tinie’s Mexican Cuisine
• Tim Love, Lonesome Dove Western Bistro
• Chris Magallanes, Panther City BBQ
• Kevin Martinez, Tokyo Café
• Molly McCook, Ellerbe Fine Foods
• Ben Merritt, Fixture – Kitchen and Social Lounge and Ben’s Triple B
• Marcus Paslay, Scratch Hospitality
• Tuan Pham, Four Sisters – A Taste of Vietnam
• Stefon Rishel, Wishbone & Flynt
• Juan Rodriguez, Magdelena’s
• Trevor Sales, Brix Barbecue
• Blaine Staniford, Grace
• Michael Thomson, Michaels Cuisine
• Donatella Trotti, Nonna Tata
• Laurie Williamson, Black Cur Steak
Forty at the ’Fork will host some interesting culinary collaborations as well. Local brands being incorporated into the events include: FunkyTown Donuts, Grounds & Gold Coffee, Hao & Dixya, Icon Bread, JOY Macarons, MELT Ice Creams, Rahr Brewing, Martin House Brewing Company, Pearl Snap Kolaches, The Table, Sweet Lucy’s Pies, Gold Ribbon Confections, TX Whiskey, and Stir Crazy Baked Goods.
“The purpose of the Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation is to celebrate local culinary talent today while also helping protect it for tomorrow,” said Julie Eastman, executive director of the Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation. “Forty at the ’Fork is an opportunity for FWFWF to showcase 40 amazingly talented chefs, plus many local business owners who’ve been working tirelessly despite current industry challenges, while also continuing to grow our culinary scholarship and classroom grant offerings.”
The Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation plans to host another small-scale activation next fall, in October of 2021 and then return to its weekend-long food and wine festival format in April of 2022.