Three days into 2012 and time to look at some of the key food and drink events going on in the U.S. and around the globe in the first month of the new year — and a bit beyond. The sixteen events listed below represent a diverse bunch: there's Eric Ripert's beachy Grand Cayman Cookout, the first event in Cochon 555's ten-city tour, three festivals from Food & Wine, a truffle-obsessed Napa summit, numerous international goings-on, and much more.
When: January 12-15, 2012
Where: Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
What: Eric Ripert hosts his annual food and wine festival in the Cayman Islands, with chefs and cohorts like Anthony Bourdain, José Andrés, April Bloomfield, Laurent Gras, and Richard Blais; Ferran Adrià was originally on the bill but has since dropped out. No surprise to see that this isn't a cheap party, with individual events hovering around $200 and full packages running as high as $2,300.
International Gourmet Festival
When: January 12 - 22, 2012
Where: Across Portugal, specifically Lisbon, Alentejo, and the Algarve.
What: The International Gourmet Festival shows a clear focus on star chefs from across the globe, presenting an event made up almost exclusively of show-stopping dinners from Michelin-starred cooks. Tickets are still available for Laurent Gras, Joachim Wissler, Alain Passard, and Massimo Bottura, among several others. Depending on how baller you want to do it, tickets for each meal will run you from 350 to 500 Euro.
Napa Truffle Festival
When: January 13 - 16, 2012
Where: Napa, California
What: This is the second installment of the Napa Truffle Festival, an event that bills itself as "North America's premier truffle event... A unique gathering of leading truffle cultivation experts and scientists, special guests from the food and wine world, and internationally-renowned Michelin Star Chefs." There will be a keynote address from Barbara Fairchild and a $350 dinner prepared by chefs like Michael Cimarusti of L.A.'s celebrated Providence (menu here).
San Diego Restaurant Week
When: January 15-20
Where: San Diego
What: Unlike the one that takes place in New York every year (more info on that below), San Diego's Restaurant Week actually only runs one week. This year, over 180 restaurants will offer discounted menus: lunches from $10 to $20, and dinners from $20 - $40.
NYC Restaurant Week
When: January 16 - Feb 10 (Monday through Friday)
Where: New York City
What: The annual citywide promotion, in which a nice number of restaurants offer discounted lunch and/or dinner prix fixes, kicks off its 20th edition in just under two weeks. The list of participating restaurants has yet to be announced, but there's always something good in there.
Minnesota Pork Congress
When: January 18 - 19, 2012
Where: Minneapolis Convention Center
What: Though it is designed exclusively for pork producers and pork industry stakeholders, Minnesota's "ONLY swine specific tradeshow and pork producer educational event" merits inclusion based on how fantastic everything about it sounds. $10 gets you two days that will make you an expert on pork, and probably more than a few like-minded friends.
When: Multiple dates, kicking off on January 22nd in NYC
Where: Multiple cities
What: The porcine competition will have ten events in ten different cities to determine the ten chefs that will square off at the Grand Cochon — the finale — at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado.
Paris des Chefs
When: January 22-24, 2012
Where: Paris, France
What: If you don't know Paris des Chefs, here's the basic idea: throughout the course of three days, duos made up of a chef and a designer will present and publicly exchange ideas. On the food side, there's Daniel Patterson, the guys from Torrisi Italian Specialties, Sat Bains, Mauro Colagreco, Kobe Desramaults, Sven Chartier, and many, many others.
When: January 24 - 26, 2012
Where: Madrid, Spain
What: The avant-garde-obsessed, star-studded Spanish festival enters its 10th year with the likes of Heston Blumenthal, Paul Liebrandt, Nathan Myhrvold, Nuno Mendes, and — pleasant surprise — Momofuku Milk Bar's Christina Tosi. Do expect the Spanish staples to be there, too, save for Ferran.
Beaver Creek Food & Wine Weekend
When: January 26 - 28, 2012
Where: Beaver Creek, Colorado
What: This relatively intimate production from Food & Wine includes chefs Stephanie Izard, Tim Love, Marc Murphy, and John Besh. In addition to offering the obligatory dinners and grand tastings, the festivities will take plenty of cues from the setting. Case in point: a snowshoe tour of the "beautiful and secluded" McCoy Park.
Key West Food & Wine Festival
When: January 26 - 29, 2012
Where: Key West, Florida
What: At the same time Food & Wine will be having its first Beaver Creek festival in Colorado, the magazine will host another installment of its even more low-key Key West event. There will be neighborhood strolls, beach parties, wine tastings, pig roasts, and no celebrity chefs in sight. Just the locals and four killer sunsets.
Grand Chefs Gala / Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence
When: January 27th, 2012
Where: The Fairmont Chicago, Millenium Park
What: The 15th annual awards show that carries the local legend Jean Banchet's name will bestow upon several chefs and mixologists the title of "best in Chicago" (last year Curtis Duffy, Grant Achatz, and Chris Pandel received the highest honors). Once again, proceeds go to fight cystic fibrosis, but for the first time, the organization has allowed the public get involved in the nominating process.
Bocuse d'Or USA Finals
When: January 28-29, 2012
Where: Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York
What: The biennial global cooking competition, often referred to as the culinary Super Bowl, is currently in an off-year. This coming January, however, four American chefs will compete to determine who will captain the U.S. team at the 2013 event in Lyon, France.
San Francisco Beer Week
When: February 10 - 19, 2012
Where: San Francisco, California
What: The San Francisco Brewers Guild has organized a dizzying slate of events — tastings, seminars, pairing dinners, and more — to take place throughout ten days. One focus and one focus only: beer.
South Beach Food & Wine
When: February 23-26, 2012
Where: Miami, Florida
What: Lee Schrager's annual mega festival, with more chefs and food media stars than you can shake a stick at. As usual, get your tickets fast.
Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
When: March 2 - 21
Where: Melbourne, Australia
What: For their 20th anniversary, Melbourne Food & Wine have organized a monster of a festival: 20 days of tastings, master classes, and parties all across Victoria. Draws include the "Theatre of Ideas," a congress of sorts in which René Redzepi, Ben Shewry, David Chang, and Massimo Bottura will make presentations, as well as special dinners from chefs like Redzepi, Chang (who'll be collaborating with the team from New York's Torrisi Italian Specialties), Corey Lee, and even barbecue legend Ed Mitchell.
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