Eats Beat: Four days of food and wine, and more than just one festival

03/25/2014 12:00 AM

03/24/2014 2:14 PM

Turns out festivalgoers aren’t having all the fun this weekend.

The eight Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival events are only part of what must be the city’s busiest culinary weekend ever.

Besides the festival, which kicks off Thursday night with a dozen chefs serving at Billy Bob’s, this is also the week for Empty Bowls and the Big Taste of Fort Worth social event.

• The annual Empty Bowls soups-and-stews charity festival is Thursday at lunch, a benefit for the Fort Worth-based Tarrant Area Food Bank.

Newcomers this year include Max’s Wine Dive (mac-and-cheese), Waters Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine (gumbo), Clay Pigeon Food and Drink (goat cheese panna cotta) and Grace teamed with Little Red Wasp (cauliflower soup with chorizo).

Ten other restaurants will serve stews or soups, including popular Riscky’s Barbeque chili.

Empty Bowls is at the Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall, 3400 Burnett-Tandy Drive; $50, tickets at tafb.org.

• If you can only handle a few nights of the food and wine fest, make Thursday one of the nights.

The opening event includes dishes from 12 chefs, led by regional celebrities Jon Bonnell ( Bonnell’s, Waters), Lanny Lancarte II ( Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana), Tim Love ( Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Love Shack, Queenie’s Steakhouse, Woodshed Smokehouse) and Molly McCook ( Ellerbe).

The rest of the starting lineup is just as impressive: Terry Chandler, Keith Hicks, Mark Hitri, Dena Peterson, Juan Rodriguez, Blaine Staniford, Michael Thomson and Donatella Trotti.

It’s a $65 ticket that includes music from Stoney LaRue.

The Friday-night event is the Grand Tasting ($125) for 40 North and West Texas restaurants, including superstar DFW chefs Matt McCallister ( FT33) and John Tesar ( Spoon) and celebrity cowboy Tom Perini of Perini Ranch Steakhouse near Abilene.

There are free events all day Saturday in Sundance Square Plaza, and six other ticketed festival events including lunch tastings Saturday and Sunday at the Worthington.

The information is sketchy at fortworthfoodandwinefestival.com, but try our wrap-up at DFW.com, the Facebook page ( facebook.com/FortWorthFoodandWineFestival) or Twitter (@FortWorthFWF).

When the festival is wrapping up with a Meals on Wheels food truck party Sunday night, restaurants, wineries and more will switch to the Omni Hotel ballroom for the Big Taste of Fort Worth charity benefit.

Once an inexpensive festival, the Big Taste is now a $125 charity tasting for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Top participants include Staniford’s Grace and Little Red Wasp, Jeff HarrisAF+B Fort Worth, and Jerrett Joslin’s Wild Mushroom Steak House plus prime steakhouses Bob’s, Del Frisco’s and Ruth’s Chris.

For tickets, see www.bbbstx.org.

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