More than 75 local restaurants took part in the grand tasting events at the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (www.nowfe.com) over Memorial Day weekend and a few took home awards for the creations they served to guests. Palace CafÕs (605 Canal St., 523-1661; www.palacecafe.com) Darin Nesbit won best of show at the May 25 tasting for citrus-marinated tuna with wasabi tobiko, and Glen Hogh of Vega Tapas Caf (2051 Metairie Rd., 836-2007; www.vegatapas.com) won top honors at the May 26 tasting for his Creole tomato gazpacho with crabmeat and cucumber sorbet. Best of show dessert awards went to Tenney Flynn of GW Fins (808 Bienville St., 581-3467; www.gwfins.com) for mini apple pies with caramel and bleu cheese and Lazone Randolph of BrennanÕs Restaurant (417 Royal St., 525-9711; www.brennansneworleans.com) for his rendition of the classic bananas Foster. Other awards went to Roberto Bustillo of Zoe Restaurant at the W Hotel, Nick Gile of the Bombay Club, Scott Boswell of Stella!, Greg Reggio of Zea Rotisserie and Grill, David Brockstruck of Martin Wine Celler and Guy Sockrider of MurielÕs Jackson Square. NOWFE uses proceeds from its annual festival to support local culinary education programs.
Seafood and Creole Tomato Festivals
A pair of food-focused festivals are scheduled for the French Quarter this weekend. The French Market (www.frenchmarket.org) hosts the 21st annual Creole Tomato Festival on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The free event includes cooking demonstrations, tasting sessions, a mini farmers market and talks on different recipes while live bands perform outdoors. New this year is a section of the festival dedicated to Latin food and performing arts. Also, visitors who spend at least $25 at French Market businesses or vendors during the festival can redeem receipts for a free, five-pound box of Creole tomatoes. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Seafood Festival makes its debut this weekend, beginning Thursday with a patron party fund-raiser and continuing through Sunday with events the Old U.S. Mint and in restaurants. The new festival was conceived this year to help celebrate and support the local restaurant scene. Daytime activities include cooking demonstrations, cookbook signings, food booths and live music while restaurants will host behind-the-scenes tours. Saturday afternoon will feature a collection of local chefs preparing what festivals organizers dub Òthe worldÕs largest seafood dish,Ó while later that night there will be a chef-led second line parade in the French Quarter. The festival is produced by New Orleans Cultural Festivals, which plans to host other festivals throughout the year to support local businesses. For schedules and more information, go to www.neworleansculturalfestivals.com. ÑÊMcNulty