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Philadelphia Food and Wine Festival is a feast for the senses


This past weekend the Valley Forge Convention Center was home to the Local Philly personality Janet Zappala.2010 Philadelphia Food & Wine Festival, where people from all over the Delaware Valley came to sample, taste, drink and check out the latest in cookware, recipes and food trends.

In the Grand Market, each booth had items available for sale, including my favorite, fresh cold-pressed olive oil. In addition there were booths with fresh and frozen seafood, meats such as chicken, beef, pork and jerky, desserts such as cakes, pies, and cookies, chocolate covered-everything, salsa, barbeque sauce, salad dressing, marina and pasta sauces, cheeses, savory snacks such as chips, pretzels, popcorn and all kinds of hors d'oeuvres.

In the kitchen-house sector, attendees could see a knife and cutlery demo, try out specific cookware such as pizza stones, woks and casserole dishes, see the latest kitchen updates- counters, new refrigerators, appliances, etc- even window and door installers.

I saw even more ‘green’ vendors than I did last year. May vendors were showcasing vegan and natural food, vitamins and energy supplements, natural nut butters, local fish and meats, local produce and earth-friendly cleaning supplies.

New this year was a VIP Cocktail Party at the Bahama Breeze Island Grille in King of Prussia on Saturday, where people could meet and mingle with the chefs and enjoy beer, wines, and hors d'oeuvres.

There was a great amount of local culinary talent at the show, including Bravo’s Top Chef Season 6 winner, Michael Voltaggio, Aaron McCargo, Jr., host of the Food Network's Big Daddy’s House  and Fabio Viviani, Bravo’s Top Chef Season 5  Fan Favorite and Executive Chef of Café Firenze.

Also local and awesome was Janet Zappala, certified nutritional coach, author, and award-winning journalist, showcasing her new book, "My Italian Kitchen.” Janet’s main goal is to get healthy recipes in front of people and to remind them that healthy eating can still be tasty- which is true! I sampled her presto cheese spread on a whole-grain cracker and it was divine! “You don’t have to compromise taste to eat right,’ she told me! Janet studied at the Cookery School at Casa Ombuto/Tuscany and is also the proud owner of six Emmy Awards and 13 Emmy nominations including Best Anchor, Philadelphia 2003.

Former model turned Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati is the author of Penns Woods Winerythe bestselling book series The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, and she was discussing her new book. Especially amazing is her easy way she describes creating fabulous Italian food. Her book also describes and explains the Christmas feats of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Maria is Director of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati™ Cooking School in Umbria/Tuscany, Italy and soon to be in Sicily.

The Chefs on Stage series featured McCargo, Jr., Voltaggio, and Viviani with amazing recipes, ad there were culinary demonstrations throughout the expo from national and local culinary talent, including chefs from local restaurants, celebrity chefs, White House chefs, and many others hosted by guest emcee Chef Guy Mitchell.

One of the highlights of my day was meeting and chatting with legendary Alaskan Crabber Russell Newberry of “Dangerous Deckhands.”  He was posing for pictures and telling people about his life at sea and the toughest catch he’s had to make.

To round off my day at the expo was a visit to the Taste of Italy Pavilion, featuring an amazing variety of fine wines; savory cheeses, fresh olive oils and breads; and Philadelphia-area restaurants cooking and offering their best Italian fare (Yeah, this part was good!)

Last but not least were beer seminars by award winning author and host of Still Crazy after All These Beers, Gary Monterosso and wine seminars by Wine School of Philadelphia founder and wine guru Keith Wallace.

The 2010 Philadelphia Food & Wine Festival was sponsored by Mitsubishi Motors, Black Box Wines, Pure Via all natural sweetener, and Travelocity.

Christine Tarlecki can be reached online at engchik@gmail.com, and on Twitter under engchik.