What if you could meet chefs and winemakers from around the world, enjoy their creations and not have to get on a plane to do it?
That’s the mission of the MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival, now in its 3rd year and hosted this year by Peddler’s Village in Lahaska. The festival encompasses three states – Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware – with 35 dinners, brunches and tastings occurring in 7 counties in the Mid-Atlantic region from Wednesday, May 13 through Sunday, May 17.
So how did Peddler’s Village get to be the epicenter of this wonderful event? Richard Slutter, Director of Hospitality Operations, is responsible. Slutter, who oversees all the restaurants at Peddler’s Village, spent five years at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington as Director of Restaurants, and was part of the birth of this special festival. He’s also a certified sommelier and experienced, five-star hospitality professional who arrived at Peddler’s Village last June. We spoke earlier this week about the festival and the latest culinary news from the Village.
BCT: How and where did this festival come from? I’ve never heard of it!
RS: When I was at the Hotel DuPont, we realized that there were lots of good restaurants in Delaware – in Wilmington and Rehoboth, for instance – but people didn’t know about them. So we decided to come together and build a food festival that would include places outside of Delaware too, hence “Mid-Atlantic.”
BCT: What makes this festival different?
RS: We wanted to do it very personal and intimate, not a big, crowded festival. So, for instance, the chef will come out and meet guests or the winemaker will be there to speak about the wine.
The other goal was to bring chefs from each continent. We find outstanding chefs – some have big names, some don’t, but are just very good. We also look for emerging chefs and great women chefs.
What’s really exciting for the people who attend is that you are getting food you couldn’t normally access here. So unless you were going down to Australia, for instance, you wouldn’t get the opportunity to experience this cuisine. We really encourage the chefs to stick to their own food and ingredients so that the meal is unique.
It’s also a great opportunity to taste wines that are not commercially available here. There are so many underserved wineries around the globe that have difficulty distributing their wines beyond their borders. The winemakers are coming here with their wines, to share and to work with great chefs.
BCT: What do you think are the most exciting events, especially for locals here in Bucks County?
RS: First would be the Scrapple and Sparkling Breakfast at the Cock ‘n Bull on Saturday, May 16. This has been really successful in the past at other properties (there is also a “Scrapplegasm” breakfast at the Hotel DuPont on the same morning). We really challenge the chefs to think outside of the box about scrapple. They keep it true to the texture and design of it but may use atypical meats (buffalo, duck, game) and create interesting sauces and compotes to accompany the scrapple. At this event we’ll also have a great new sparkling wine from the Austrian winery, Reichsrat von Buhl, with winemaker Richard Grosche.
Grosche’s story is interesting and typical of the kind of winemakers we are bringing here. He started out as a journalist, then became a pre-eminent wine writer, then started making his own wine. This will be the only time this wine will be poured in Pennsylvania.
BCT: What I’m hearing is that if you are really into wine, you’re going to be excited about this festival.
RS: Absolutely. Saturday night we’re presenting a family-style affair, eating outside on the Village Green at one long table – a first for Peddler’s Village. It’s a winemakers’ dinner featuring ten different wineries and five courses. People will get to meet both the winemakers and the three chefs working with the Cock ‘n Bull’s executive chef Bill Murphy. (see Table on the Green: A Family-Style Winemakers Dinner).
On Thursday the Foxbriar Barn in the Village will be the space for a pop-up dinner with 7 courses – each chef is responsible for one course – and two wines paired with each course. Both the winemakers and the chefs will be there to introduce each dish and wine (see Pop-Up in Bucks County).
The other event happening locally is the Bacon, Bourbon, Bubbles & Biscuits dinner. On Friday night at the Buttonwood Grill, executive chef Sean Browne is going to work with Spanish chef Juan Nales and American chef Darryl Harmon on four courses all involving bacon with a bourbon tasting and Grosche’s sparkling wine.
BCT: I know that Earl’s Bucks County is still closed from the fire, and that executive chef Bill Murphy has moved over to the Cock ‘n Bull. What else is happening at Peddler’s Village restaurants?
RS: Yes, Earl’s is still closed – and will be for a while until we settle things with the insurance companies – but the important thing is that no one was hurt in the fire…and we got the wine out! We’ll be doing the garden again this year, and using the fresh produce in all our restaurants.
Part of what I want to do is showcase our culinary operations. We have some really talented chefs who have come to us from great places, like Nordstrom’s, and the Starr restaurants.
At the Cock ‘n Bull there is lot of change occurring. There is a new menu, which is substantially different. It’s still American heritage food but upgraded and updated, with new flavors and utilizing local purveyors and farms. But just because something – like Beef Burgundy – is a classic, doesn’t mean it has to be old. For instance, in making the Chicken Pot Pye, we make the chicken stock ourselves, roasting all the ingredients before they go into the broth. The carrots and potatoes (fingerling) that go in are simply prepared and instead of baking a pastry on top, we’ve topped it with our house-made buttery, seasoned puff pastry top which is literally 3 inches high. It looks phenomenal.
For the Beef Burgundy, we are baking our own brioche, making our own veal stock and serving it with pearl onions and button mushrooms. It is really staggeringly good food.
For more information about the MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival and to purchase tickets, click here.
For more information about Peddler’s Village’s restaurants, click here.