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Local food and music help to mark the return of the Memphis Food & Wine Festival

Commercial Appeal Memphis logo Commercial Appeal Memphis 10/17/2021 Gina Butkovich, Memphis Commercial Appeal

Thirty-seven chefs, from the Memphis area as well as from out of town, participated in the Memphis Food & Wine Festival Saturday night. 

Tables holding dishes served by individual chefs and vintners lined the outskirts of the Radians Amphitheater at Memphis Botanic Garden, while individual tables were scattered throughout the grass. Most attendees skipped the tables however, and walked around throughout the evening, trying a little bit of everything and chatting with friends. 

Scenes from the annual Memphis Food & Wine Festival at the Memphis Botanic Garden on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. © Ariel Cobbert/ Commercial Appeal Scenes from the annual Memphis Food & Wine Festival at the Memphis Botanic Garden on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.

"It's a wonderful feeling," Andreas Kisler, from The Peabody, said about being back at the Memphis Food & Wine Festival after it was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19. 

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Kisler was one of 23 local chefs to attend the festival. Like many of the local chefs, he has attended every Memphis Food & Wine Festival since the first year the event was held. 

The Peabody was serving beef brisket with portobello mushrooms, plated on a red and yellow yin and yang symbol made of red and yellow bell peppers sauce. 

The beef brisket portabella mushroom strudel dish is served at the annual Memphis Food & Wine Festival at the Memphis Botanic Garden on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. © Ariel Cobbert/ Commercial Appeal The beef brisket portabella mushroom strudel dish is served at the annual Memphis Food & Wine Festival at the Memphis Botanic Garden on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.

"It has a meaning to it," Kisler said. 

There was music playing throughout the evening, but once the sun fully set and the twinkling lights lining the event turned on, it started in full force on the main stage. Musical acts included Mississippi blues and folk guitarist and vocalist Terry "Big T" Williams, and Memphis locals The Handy Band and Ghost Town Blues Band.

Chef Tony Biggs at the annual Memphis Food & Wine Festival at the Memphis Botanic Garden on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. © Ariel Cobbert/ Commercial Appeal Chef Tony Biggs at the annual Memphis Food & Wine Festival at the Memphis Botanic Garden on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.

Food continued to be served, even as the performers played. The Frost Bake Shop, a local Memphis eatery, was serving gooey pumpkin bars with salt roasted pecans on top. The pumpkin bars were a play on the shop's gooey butter bars, which originated from chef Bill Kloos' family being from St. Louis, where gooey butter cake is a popular dish. 

"I think this is the best event that happens in Memphis," Kloos said. "And we're proud to be supporting Le Bonheur, and it's awesome." 

The Memphis Food & Wine festival benefited the FedExFamilyHouse, an organization that offers housing for out-of-town families with children receiving treatment at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis. 

Out of town chefs included Brad Parkers and Tony Biggs from Certified Angus Beef in Wooster Ohio. They were serving boozy pineapple coated with cinnamon, sugar and Fireball along with beef sirloin flaps marinated in bourbon sriracha. It was Parkers's first time at the Memphis Food & Wine Festival. 

Chef Brad Parkers at the annual Memphis Food & Wine Festival at the Memphis Botanic Garden on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. © Ariel Cobbert/ Commercial Appeal Chef Brad Parkers at the annual Memphis Food & Wine Festival at the Memphis Botanic Garden on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.

"One thing lead to another, and we got invited and here we are," Parkers said. "Had our grills shipped here and here we are, the day of, cooking." 

Hugh Balthrop, from Sweet Magnolias Gelatos in Oxford, Mississippi, was serving gelato at his tent. Gelato flavors being served included banana pudding as well as whiskey and pecan. 

"That's a Southern twist on gelato," Balthrop said. 

Balthrop and the gelato shop have been to every Memphis Food & Wine Festival, and being back after a year off, Balthrop said, is a "blessing." 

"It's great to get some kind of normalcy," he said. "We're in the gelato business, so we're here to make people happy. The energy is great and it's a great cause, so if they'll have us back, we'll be back every time." 

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Local food and music help to mark the return of the Memphis Food & Wine Festival

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