South Jersey's culinary event of the year - the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival - will once again impress foodies everywhere with its roster of celebrity chefs, which is incredibly impressive this year thanks to big names such as Tom Colicchio and Robert Irvine and its most recent signings, Tyler Florence and up-and-comer Nadia G.
The event, which will run July 26 to July 29, may be the festival's most diverse lineup yet, partially because Caesars Entertainment is not working exclusively with the Food Network, enabling the festival to book culinary celebrities from wherever it pleases.
Aside from Colicchio, an awesome chef, author and restaurateur best known as a judge on Bravo's "Top Chef" reality series, the Food & Wine Festival will also feature: Andrew Zimmern, the chef and personality known for basically eating anything on the planet on the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods"; and Buddy Valastro, the star of TLC's "The Cake Boss."
That doesn't mean the Food Network won't be represented. Irvine, a former executive chef at multiple Atlantic City casinos and star of the network's highly rated "Restaurant: Impossible," will return for the second straight year; Anne Burrell, co-host of "Worst Cooks in America," returns after a year hiatus from the fest; Aaron Sanchez, a judge on "Chopped" and host of his own show, "Heat Seekers," will make his festival debut; Florence, current host of the network's "Tyler's Ultimate"; and Nadia G, a sexy, young talent on The Cooking Channel - a sister company of the Food Network - will make her debut after she has turned some heads on "Nadia G's Bitchin' Kitchen."
The Food & Wine festival will once again feature the popular Grand Market, featuring more than 100 stations of food, wine, spirits, beer and more; wine-tasting seminars at Mia at Caesars Atlantic City; and various events.
Standouts include "Define Cheese-Steak," a spin-off of Guy Fieri's cheesesteak challenge, this year year hosted by Colicchio, who will walk through a who's-who of cheesesteaks while local sub shops fight for the "Best Of" title; Sunset Sliders, Sushi & Sake on Caesars' rooftop; and Sweet & Stylish, a melding of desserts and fashion with the Cake Boss.
The Community Food Bank of New Jersey is the official charity sponsor this year. Tickets for the festival are now on sale at www.acfoodandwine.com.
If you haven't been to Revel because you're concerned the soft opening means there aren't enough restaurants open, that's just not true anymore.
During the first week, Robert Wiedmaier opened his ultracool Mussel Bar, which has great food and an even more impressive beer list as well as live music at night. It is really doing well, and it should be. Across the hall, Iron Chef Jose Garces also opened Distrito Cantina and the Guapos Tacos truck, offering reasonably priced Mexican food. And nearby, Lugo Caffe is impressing its diners with great Italian cuisine.
Last week, two more restaurants opened: Garces' flagship restaurant Amada, offering Spanish tapas in a beautiful dining room overlooking the ocean that also features a stage for flamenco dancing; and One, a trendy steakhouse that caters to the woman carnivore.
This week, five more restaurants open: Michel Richard's O Bistro & Wine Bar and the adjacent O Bistro Dining Room, the latter was formerly named the Breakfast Room. The Wine Bar is an awesome, open space right near the In/Out Pool that makes you feel like you are dining in an open cafe. Garces' Village Whiskey is now serving its scrumptious burgers, chicken and waffles and duck fat french fries with cheese sauce and short ribs, as well as great beer and whiskey.
This weekend, Iron Chef Marc Forgione's American Cut steakhouse, which may be the nicest restaurant at Revel, and Alain Allegretti's Azure, a Mediterranean concept overlooking the ocean, are also expected to debut in soft openings.
That means Revel is close to having all of its restaurants open. Expect Richard's Central, a European take on American comfort food, to open soon. And Revel has still not announced when Luke Palladino's casual Italian concept will debut.
Bally's Atlantic City is doing more than just renaming its theater Legends Theater in honor of the popular tribute show that is offered there. There will also be a Legends Party Pit, and Bally's is looking for dealertainers at an open audition 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at Legends Theater inside the Claridge tower.
Those interested are encouraged to dress up like their favorite musical or comedy legend and be prepared to sing and dance. The party pit is expected to open in mid-May.
Wine event at Borgata
Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, who oversees all food and beverage for The Water Club at Borgata Hotel casino & Spa, is teaming with Chef Stephen Kalt of Fornelletto for a wine dinner 7 p.m. Friday, April 27, that sounds awesome.
The dinner, which will be hosted at Fornelletto, will feature hors d'oeuvres and cocktails by Zakarian followed by a four-course dinner prepared by Kalt, and wine will be paired with each course.
Courses for the $149 dinner include: Sicilian salad with endive, blackberries, blood orange, avocado and mint; gnocchi with Black Mission figs, brown butter, parmesan cream and sage; lamb chops with roasted artichokes, sunchokes, sheep's milk ricotta agnelotti and fava bean pesto; and lemon panna cotta with marinated strawberries and passion fruit foam. For tickets, go to www.theborgata.com.
The entire "Jerseylicious" cast recently filmed the season finale at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. The cast and crew of the Style Network reality series also partied at Ego after shooting wrapped.
Actress, singer and former Cheetah Girl Adrienne Bailon stopped by The Pool After Dark at Harrah's Resort last weekend. The night before, the DJ duo Hardnox rocked the house.
Beer dinner at Palm
Head to the Palm 6 p.m. Friday, April 20, for another great beer dinner, this time featuring the brews of Flying Fish, New Jersey's largest craft brewery. Tickets for the multi-course meal paired with beer are $75 each. Call 609-344-0483.
Tapas dinner at ACCC
Atlantic City Country Club, owned by Caesars Entertainment, is offering a Spanish tapas wine dinner Friday, April 20. The Northfield-based country club will offer five courses set up at multiple stations that will feature professionally paired Spanish wine and Chef Ed Dagger's great food, including salmon ala Navarra, mojo-glazed pork loin, a dessert selection and more. Call 609-236-4465.
Last week, the Chelsea hosted its annual Wedding Social event, where brides-to-be did everything from separate M&Ms by color to diving into a 5-foot wedding cake made by Bake Works in Northfield as they competed for a free wedding.
Jennifer Holly from Barnegat was the lucky woman who found the engagement ring inside the cake, winning the wedding, which is valued at $15,000.
This week, the Chelsea will host the first of two scheduled job fairs 1 to 5 p.m. Monday, April 23, expected to fill 175 seasonal positions. This job fair, as well as another from 2 to 6 p.m. May 2, will offer positions ranging from servers and bartenders to pool and beach attendants to front desk agents and kitchen personnel.