The Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival (FWFWF) is pivoting for the second year in a row, this time introducing a divine new format with chef-prepared dinners.
Called Forty at the 'Fork, it'll consist of 20 special pop-up dinners featuring 40 local chefs that will take place weekly between February 28 and April 13, within The Shops at Clearfork.
The 2021 Festival was originally scheduled to take place from April 8-11, and would have marked a return to normalcy, following the cancellation of the 2020 version due to COVID-19.
But according to a release, the Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation, the nonprofit that organizes the event, decided to cancel 2021 as well, due to "continued uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 and the state of the restaurant industry."
The dinner series represents a new focus on small-scale events that spotlight local culinary talent while raising funds to support their ongoing mission, which includes the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, which has provided more than $110,000 to local service staff, to date.
"The purpose of the Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation is to celebrate local culinary talent today while also helping protect it for tomorrow," says Julie Eastman, the group's executive director. "Forty at the ’Fork is an opportunity to showcase 40 amazingly talented chefs, plus many local business owners, who’ve been working tirelessly despite current industry challenges, while also continuing to grow our culinary scholarship and classroom grant offerings."
The dinners will take place in the former Twigs American Bistro space, whose massive 8,896-square-foot space will allow them to meet the requirement to stay under 20 percent seating capacity and support ample social distancing between tables.
Two dozen of some of the best chefs around have already confirmed they'll participate, including:
• Jon Bonnell, Bonnell's Restaurant Group
• Cindy Crowder, Tributary Café
• Graham Dodd, Elm & Good
• Steve Estes, Brewed
• Rena Frost, Mac’s on Main
• James Gaines, Reata Restaurant
• Paco Islas, Paco’s Mexican Cuisine
• Christian Lehrmann, Tinie’s Mexican Cuisine
• Tim Love, Lonesome Dove Western Bistro
• Chris Magallanes, Panther City BBQ
• Kevin Martinez, Tokyo Café
• Molly McCook, Ellerbe Fine Foods
• Ben Merritt, Fixture - Kitchen and Social Lounge and Ben’s Triple B
• Marcus Paslay, Scratch Hospitality
• Tuan Pham, Four Sisters - A Taste of Vietnam
• Stefon Rishel, Wishbone & Flynt
• Juan Rodriguez, Magdelena's
• Trevor Sales, Brix Barbecue
• Blaine Staniford, Grace
• Michael Thomson, Michaels Cuisine
• Donatella Trotti, Nonna Tata
• Laurie Williamson, Black Cur Steak
There will also be collaborations with FunkyTown Donuts, Grounds & Gold Coffee, Hao & Dixya, Icon Bread, JOY Macarons, MELT Ice Creams, Rahr Brewing, Martin House Brewing Company, Pearl Snap Kolaches, The Table, Sweet Lucy’s Pies, Gold Ribbon Confections, TX Whiskey, Stir Crazy Baked Goods, and more.
The Foundation also plans to host a small-scale event in October, as it did in 2020, and fingers crossed that the old weekend-long festival can happen in 2022.
Tickets for all 20 Forty at the ’Fork dinners are on sale at FWFWF.com for $70 per person, with each event limited to 50 guests.
Tickets can be purchased for a specific date, and they'll reveal the menus so that people can buy wine. But the identities of the chef won't be revealed until that night. Mystery!