STATELINE, Nev. - Epicurian enthusiasts are invited to please their palates during this weekend's South Lake Tahoe Food and Wine Festival.
For the third year in a row, Harrah's Lake Tahoe will host a series of events that includes wine tasting, food, desserts and dinners prepared by chefs from the company as well as guest chefs.
Harrah's banquet chef Rick Maricle and cooks Jon Vasquez and Nancy Leon began to peel 160 pounds of crayfish from Tahoe Lobster Co. on Monday afternoon in the kitchen at Harveys. The crayfish will be used in a salad with fried green tomatoes and creole mustard.
"The festival is a tremendous amount of work, and preparation," he said. "But by the time we get to Saturday, everybody is having a good time."
In addition to preparing food for the event, Maricle also serves as a host for all the chefs traveling to the area for the festival, which includes making sure they have all the ingredients they need to make their dishes.
"He's the driving force to make it a success," Lauren Evison, Director of Food Operations, said of Maricle. "For all the work he has to do, he's very calm."
This year's epicurean expo will feature 14 food stations, 12 liquor stations and 12 wine stations, Evison said. In addition to the food and drinks, entertainment and prizes will be available for guests who want to take a break between bites. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Carson Valley Community Food Closet.
During the expo, Tahoe-Douglas firefighters will compete against South Lake Tahoe firefighters in an eating contest. Firemen will attempt to devour a 5-pound sandwich and the winner will receive $500 toward a charity of his or her choice.
With two years under its belt, Evison said she hopes to see the festival develop into a locals' event.
"We want a lot more local interest instead of people considering it to be a Harrah's and Harveys VIP event," Evison said. "We want more participation, but a lot of people are finding out about it two weeks before the event."
Evison's ideas for the future include bringing in food trucks, adding entertainment and children's activities and inviting local fine-dining establishments to participate. It will take a lot more planning to incoporate those ideas, so Evison said she plans to gauge local response before moving forward. She also hopes to see the revenue grow so they can bring in more big names in the food industry.
"So far we've taken little, small steps," she said. "We want to take a big one next year."
"I'm excited about this year," she said. "I have hopes for the new year to get more locals involved and plan right out of the gate and give more back to the community."
For information or to purchase tickets, visit www.ltfoodandwine.com.
Friday, Oct. 5
Around the World with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
Hosted by master sommelier Jay James, vice president of Fine Wine, Southern Wine and Spirits, Nevada
5:30-6:30 p.m., $75
Harvey's Lake View Lounge, 12th Floor Tallac Room
Features Chuck Wagner, founder of Caymus Vineyards and Wagner Family of Wine and Chef Mark Estee
7-9 p.m., $300
19 Kitchen • Bar
Down on the Bayou Dinner
Hosted by Harrah's New Orleans Executive Chef Jared Tees, also the Food Network's newest "Chopped" champion
7:30-9 p.m., $75
Harveys Convention Center
Light Night at Vex
Features Skinny Girl and Voli Light Vodkas
10 p.m. to 2 a.m., $5 for women, $10 for men. Call 775-586-6705 for booth and bottle service reservations
Vex Night Club
Saturday, Oct. 6
Beyond the Fork "An Affair of the Senses" Epicurean Expo
Cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, 14 food stations, 12 wine stations and 10 liquor stations will be featured.
2-5 p.m., $60 in advance, $70 at the door
Harrah's Special Events Center
Sushi, Sashimi and Sake Tasting
Hosted by Luis de Santos, master sommelier at Southern Wine and Spirits, Nevada and Harrah's Asian Speciality Chef Naquilo Williams.
6-7:30 p.m., $45
Gi Fu Loh
Whiskies of the World Tasting
Hosted by Dr. Tom Turner, master of whisky
8:30-9:30 p.m., $30
The Icing on the cake
Cupcake wine and vodka will be featured
10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., $10 for women, $20 for men. Call 775-586-6705 for booth and bottle service reservations.
Vex Night Club
Decadent Desserts and Drinks
Desserts prepared by Harrah's Executive Pastry Chef Cathy Haynes will be paired with libations matched by master sommelier Jay James.
10:30-11:30 p.m., $45
Sunday, Oct. 7
Harveys Champagne Brunch
Hosted by Chef Nathan Lyon, an American chef known for using fresh, seasonal ingredients who has appeared on a variety of television shows, including "The Next Food Network Star" and "A Lyon in the Kitchen."
10 a.m. to 1 p.m., $50. Call 775-586-6777 for reservations.
19 Kitchen • Bar