Fort Lauderdale Food & Wine Festival Returns With Socially Distanced Format

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After being entirely shut out by the pandemic last year, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Food & Wine Festival is back for its second edition, which takes place from Monday, March 15 through Sunday, March 21.

Even with a reduced calendar and socially distanced audiences, the festival will offer six experiences, including a new curated dinner series.

“Our initial plan was an educational component to the festival, but we had to look at what we could do to be safe and be socially acceptable,” cofounder Phil Marro tells New Times. “Going out to dinner is acceptable now and we looked into partnering with restaurants that are practicing CDC guidelines. The dinner series this year is a kind of an appetizer for what we are planning for 2022.”

For its inaugural festivities in 2019, GFLFW shone a spotlight on more than 100 of Broward’s local restaurants, craft spirit brands, wineries, and breweries with four major events. This year, the festival’s largest events — the grand tasting, “GFL on the Rise”, and a kid-friendly family day — have been removed from programming in an effort to ensure the safety of participants and guests. Those who purchased tickets to one of those three experiences in 2020 can roll over their tickets to next year’s festival or apply the ticket values to one of this year’s events.

“We had to cancel the festival last year about ten days before it was supposed to start,” explains Kate Reed, who, like Marro, is one of the event’s cofounders. “We tried to reschedule in August but it wasn’t doable. As it grew closer to the 2021 date, we realized that we couldn’t plan a large-scale event, so we tried to come up with something that could still highlight what makes Broward special.”

The first two socially distanced experiences — a five-course dinner by chef Rino Carbone of Heritage restaurant on March 15, and the “Hip Hop Beats and Wagyu Beef Experience” at Sardelli Italian Steakhouse the following day — are sold out. But tickets remain available for Shady Distillery’s four-course meal paired with cocktails on March 18 ($125) and for Chef Josie’s “Veg Out” intimate dinner at the Atlantic Hotel & Spa’s fifth-floor pool deck on March 19 ($125).

Sistrunk Marketplace will host GFLFW’s signature “Cocktail Confidential” on March 17. The spirited event will introduce original cocktails inspired by the surrounding FAT Village Arts District.

Rounding out the festival’s programming is a “Catch the Love” toy drive, which will take place on Sunday, March 21, at Cali Coffee in Hollywood. The free event will benefit Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

The festival’s founders say they’re optimistic about its future.

“Our plan is to expand into doing creative monthly events throughout the county and keep including more restaurants and bars,” says Reed. “We have had a huge number of people reach out to us and we want help out the industry as much as we can by reminding people that Broward restaurants are still here.”

Greater Fort Lauderdale Food and Wine Festival. Monday, March 15 through Sunday, March 21 at various locations. For further information and tickets, visit gflfoodwine.com.

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